Antioch gets tough on truancy

January 26, 2009 5:34:00 PM PST
The Antioch Unified School District has a new way to fight truancy. Businesses are being asked to stop serving kids during school hours.

The Sizzler restaurant in Antioch will stop serving students during school hours. It's a way to stop them from cutting class.

"We get a few that just come in and order a soda and want a child's salad bar where it's 12 and under and we say no you can't get that, you're an adult and what are you doing here? You have to question them," said Sizzler manager Lesly Jakub.

"And what do they say?"asked ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.

"Oh, no I don't have school today. Oh really?" said Jakub.

The Antioch Unified School District has asked 30 businesses to do the same.

"They will stop serving at about a quarter to nine and they won't serve any more kids and students need to go onto school," said Deer Valley High School Co-Principal Scott Bergerhouse.

The district says the attendance rate at the high school level is 95 percent, with 3,000 students in one high school that could mean 150 students out of class.

Deer Valley and Antioch high schools are closed campuses, even at lunch time. But it wasn't hard to find some students off campus.

The anti-truancy program will also reward students with perfect attendance.

"Kids need some type of educational push just to keep them interested in school," said Deer Valley High School Co-Principal Clarence Isadore.

When students skip school, the district cannot collect average daily attendance dollars from the state, and today that is crucial given the proposed budget cuts coming out of Sacramento.

"The ADA because of the budget and the economy status we are in is a factor, but our main factor is the student achievement. We want to see our students achieve and they can't achieve if they are not in their seats," said Gloria Ervin from Antioch Unified School District.

The graduation rate is 72 percent. The district believes that number will go up if more students stay put.