Chronic truancy and eventual involvement in crime go hand in
hand. Studies show that today’s chronic truant is tomorrow’s
criminal. In 1997, the California Youth Authority conducted an
intake survey which showed that 76% of those committed to the CYA
had missed an average of two years of school, had stopped attending
school regularly in the fifth or sixth grade, and were not attending
school at the time they were arrested. As a result, the District
Attorney’s Office – as the chief law enforcement agency in the
county – has implemented powerful programs to address the truancy
problem and help youth stay in school.
A.C.T., or Abolish Chronic Truancy, places District Attorney's
Office personnel in
elementary schools to work with administrators, teachers, parents
and students to intervene at the very beginning of the truancy
cycle. District Attorney representatives inform parents that it is their legal
responsibility to ensure their children attend school and that
education is as essential as food, clothing, and shelter in a
child’s life. If there are problems interfering with the ability of
the child to go to school, District Attorney personnel attempt to find community
resources to help overcome those problems. If the child continues to
be truant, criminal legal action can be taken against the
student, the parent, or both.
A.C.T. intervenes at the elementary-school age for a number of
- Truant behavior is not as ingrained at this age as it will
- The parent of the elementary school-aged child still has
control over the child and can, therefore, be held accountable.
- If intervention occurs later in the child’s life, he will have
fallen so far behind academically as a result of truancy that
getting the pupil back in school will be a matter of winning the
battle having already lost the war.
While prosecution can result from A.C.T. intervention, the focus of
the program is not to punish parents and students, but to get
truants off the streets and back in the classrooms.
Truancy Mediation Program
The District Attorney’s Hearing
Officer Program works with school districts School Attendance
Review Boards (SARBs) to combat truancy among all age groups between
Kindergarten through 12th grade. When students and/or their parents
violate school attendance laws, the matters are often referred to
the District Attorney’s Office for an office hearing.
The goal of the mediation process is to return each truant to
school while holding them responsible for their actions. In lieu of
immediate referral for prosecution, the student and parents are
given an opportunity to enter into a District Attorney School
Attendance Contract. By entering the contract, students and parents
agree to immediately eliminate unexcused absences and tardies, to
correct behavioral problems, and to adhere to SARB directives and
other hearing officer resolutions. Failure to adhere to the contract
can result in formal prosecution.