SF unveils new plan to tackle truancy

October 17, 2011 7:28:01 PM PDT
Schools usually describe a habitual truant as a student who has missed more than 10 days of class. While San Francisco says its numbers have gone down, it's still above the state average. So now the school district has another plan to tackle the problem.

San Francisco's Burton Academic High School is focusing on 9th graders like Mainor Carias -- identified as habitually truants.

Here's why: Stanford University analyzed student data in the San Francisco Unified School District and found those with a grade point average of less than 2.0 who showed up for class only 85 percent of the time were very likely to drop out of high school.

"And in fact students with both of these early indicators warnings had only a graduation rate of 15 percent, so it's something that glares out at you and we have to do something about it," San Francisco Unified Superintendent Carlos Garcia said.

So instead of being taken to the Truancy Assessment and Resource Center, counselors from that center come to the school once a week. It's a pilot program being tested only at Burton.

"And that case manager is obligated to work with that young person to get them re-engaged back to school," Truancy Assessment and Resource Center spokesperson Tacing Parker said.

Since the program started in august, those once identified as truants have added nearly 25 percent more school days.

"Graduating from high school means that you can go to college; a college degree will make your life easier," Mainor Carias said.

The $30,000 to fund the pilot program is coming from the district attorney's office. The pilot program will run for at least one year. If the results are good, the district will implement it at other San Francisco high schools.

"The goal here is to create the blueprint that we can take to other schools because that's the only way we are going to be successful," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said.

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