Santa Cruz County elementary schools rank 3rd in state for truancy rates

October 1, 2013

Here’s something we definitely shouldn’t be proud to be a leader in – elementary school truancy.

According to a new report by state officials, Santa Cruz County ranks number three in the state in terms of elementary school truancy.

Yes, number three.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office yesterday released a new report titled “In School & On Track 2013”  that looks at truancy issues in elementary schools statewide.

According to the report, the state Department of Education found that  691,470 California elementary school children, or 1 out of every 5 elementary school students, were reported to be truant in the 2011-2012 school year. Statewide, 38% of all truant students are elementary school children; one school reported that more than 92% of students were truant in the 2011-2012 school year. 

In California, a student is considered truant is he or she is absent or tardy by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse on three occasions in a single school year. Habitual truancy refers to five such incidents, and chronic truancy refers to a student who is absent without a valid excuse for 10 percent or more of a school year.

Santa Cruz County registered a 29 percent truancy rate, ranking it just below San Luis Obispo County at 30.2 percent and  Calveras County at 31.3 percent.

Donna Jones of the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:

The more than 5,600 elementary school students reported truant countywide last year cost schools more than $11 million in lost attendance-based funding, the report says.

Districts are not the only ones paying a price. Chronic truants tend to slip further and further behind academically, increasing their chances of leaving school without a high school diploma, the report says. Dropouts put the state on the hook for an estimated $46.3 billion annually in incarceration costs, lost productivity and lost taxes.

County Superintendent Michael Watkins said he knew the county struggled with truancy but didn’t realize how high the rate was before Monday’s report.

“The message to me and other superintendents is that we have to take more proactive measures to really inform all parents not to keep their kids at home whatever the reasons,” Watkins said.


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One Response to Santa Cruz County elementary schools rank 3rd in state for truancy rates

  1. Anonymous
    October 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    This just means we are the 3rd most beautiful county – nobody wants to be inside!

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