College attendance groups, like Alvarado’s, will likely be tasked with monitoring weekly attendance information and pairing college students with wanted interventions and help. One choice, Karigaca mentioned, is to assign mentors.
“Someone who’s going be that further particular liaison, that is going to be a conduit between the college and the household,” he mentioned.
“The excellent news is we do not have to reinvent every part, even in a world pandemic,” mentioned Hedy Chang, government director of Attendance Works, a nonprofit targeted on decreasing persistent absences.
One key factor colleges can do is use previous information on persistent absenteeism proactively.
“The thought is that we ought to be serious about prevention,” Chang mentioned. “We have already got some info from final 12 months about who wants further help and we should always begin the 12 months off with a deeper plan so these college students get further engagement, further help.”
Attendance Works can also be suggesting additional metrics that districts can monitor to assist inform efforts to enhance attendance throughout distance studying, together with web entry.
However what occurs if these efforts to watch and intervene don’t work? What if outreach employees run into the identical points Alvarado confronted within the spring? Below regular circumstances, truancy legal guidelines ultimately kick in, initiating a proper course of meant to carry mother and father accountable. However distance studying has upended that system.
“The legislation does not appear to use in the identical manner as when kids aren’t bodily in a classroom,” mentioned Teresa Drenick, who runs the truancy and attendance program for the Alameda County District Legal professional’s Workplace, noting there are some authorized grey areas she hopes to see clarified within the coming months.
The important thing concern, she mentioned, is that beneath the brand new legislation governing distance studying, there doesn’t look like a solution to differentiate between excused and unexcused absences, and truancy legislation is just triggered by unexcused absences.
Whereas it’s uncommon for households to finish up in her workplace — she works with about 100 annually — different components of the truancy course of contact many extra. One of many earliest steps within the course of is commonly a listening to with a College Attendance Evaluation Crew the place households and directors attempt to work out a plan to deal with root causes of truancy. When that is not sufficient, instances get referred to a district’s School Attendance Review Board for extra intensive intervention. In Oakland, Karigaca mentioned, round 200 instances go to the board annually. Often that’s sufficient to enhance attendance, however not at all times.
“My expertise has been that there are particular households and sure college students that for one motive or one other — and oftentimes it’s resulting from excessive hardships — they are not capable of flip it round,” Drenick mentioned. That is when instances find yourself on her desk.
Although truancy can result in fines, Drenick and specialists like Chang say a punitive method to self-discipline isn’t essentially efficient. What works greatest is addressing the underlying household points that preserve children out of college. That’s what Alameda County’s truancy system is geared towards — providing help with issues like transportation, well being care and counseling.
Drenick mentioned she hopes that with out the court docket’s intervention, college districts can deliver the wanted companies to bear. And he or she hopes to proceed to play a task. “I hope that we, as DAs, can reimagine how we are able to help our native college districts to ensure that children are getting what they want,” she mentioned.
Within the absence of a proper truancy course of throughout distance studying, Karigaca mentioned Oakland Unified will nonetheless attempt to comply with its normal framework, even when it doesn’t have the power of legislation. Whether or not the district can efficiently do this — by convening households, directors and social service suppliers for hearings remotely — stays to be seen.
Chang sees silver linings in all of this. For her, the truth that the brand new legislation requires colleges to intervene when college students are lacking college for any motive, whether or not the absences are excused or unexcused, is sweet information. “That is really an enchancment,” she mentioned. “It’s actually vital.”
A couple of days earlier than college began, Madison Park Academy’s Alvarado was busy making an attempt to put the groundwork to stop absenteeism. He was getting ready to host a Fb Reside to reply mother and father’ questions and making video tutorials to assist college students create examine areas at house.
In the end, he and Villegas mentioned, in the case of attendance, the most important problem of all could also be proving to college students that it’s price displaying up and that academics will likely be delivering a compelling academic expertise on-line.