BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:   April 9, 2014

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                                Joan Buchanan, Chair
                   AB 1643 (Buchanan) - As Amended:  April 2, 2014
           
          SUBJECT  :   Pupil attendance:  school attendance review boards

           SUMMARY  :   Requires the establishment of county school  
          attendance review boards (SARBs); specifies that the primary  
          purpose of county SARBs shall be to develop guidelines, polices,  
          or programs and adopt plans; and adds a representative of the  
          county district attorney's office to county and local SARBs.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Requires, rather than allows, the establishment of county  
            SARBs and specifies that the primary purpose of county SARBs  
            shall be to develop guidelines, policies, or programs to  
            administer the county and local SARBs and adopt plans to  
            promote interagency and community cooperation and to reduce  
            the duplication of services provided to youth in order to  
            address pupil attendance and behavioral problems.  

          2)Specifies that a county SARB may accept referrals or requests  
            for hearing services from one or more school districts within  
            its jurisdiction and that nothing in the bill prohibits any  
            two or more counties from forming a SARB consortium or  
            partnership.

          3)Adds a representative of the county district attorney's office  
            to the county SARBs, or, if more than one county is  
            represented, a representative from each county's district  
            attorney's office may be included.  Specifies that the  
            required composition of the county SARBs shall be for the  
            purpose of developing guidelines and policies.  

          4)Specifies that for the purposes of conducting hearings, the  
            chairperson of the county SARB is authorized to determine the  
            members needed at a hearing, based on the needs of the pupil,  
            in order to address attendance or behavioral problems.

          5)Specifies that the requirement for a county superintendent of  
            schools to convene a meeting of the county SARB at the  
            beginning of each school year is for the purpose of developing  
            guidelines and policies and adopting plans.  








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          6)Requires the county SARB to meet at least three additional  
            times each school year to assess the effectiveness of services  
            and supports that its SARBs provide to youth and their  
            families.

          7)Specifies that for the purposes of conducting hearings, a  
            county SARB shall meet as needed.  

          8)Adds a representative of the county district attorney's office  
            to the local SARBs, or if more than one county is represented,  
            a representative from each county's district attorney's office  
            may be included.  

          9)Strikes the provision specifying that in any county in which  
            there is no county SARB, a school district governing board may  
            elect to establish a local SARB, which shall operate in the  
            same manner and have the same authority as a county SARB.

          10)Specifies that local SARBs shall be bound by the rules and  
            regulations established by county SARBs.  

          11)Requires county SARBs to provide oversight and ensure that  
            local SARBs comply with the policies and procedures  
            established by county SARBs.

           EXISTING LAW  :


          1)Requires that each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years,  
            not otherwise exempted, be subject to compulsory full-time  
            education and attend the public full-time day school or  
            continuation school or classes in which their parent or  
            guardian resides, and that each parent, guardian or other  
            person having control or charge of the pupil ensure that  
            pupil's enrollment and attendance.  (Education Code (EC)  
            Section 48200)

           

          2)Defines a "truant" as any pupil subject to compulsory  
            full-time education or to compulsory continuation education  
            who is absent from school without a valid excuse three full  
            days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than any  
            30-minute period during the schoolday without a valid excuse  








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            on three occasions in one school year, or any combination  
            thereof.  (EC Section 48260)


          3)Requires a school district, upon a pupil's initial  
            classification as a truant, to notify the pupil's parent or  
            guardian and provide them with specified information.  (EC  
            Section 48260.5)

          4)Defines a "habitual truant" as any pupil who has been reported  
            as a truant three or more times per school year, where an  
            appropriate district officer or employee had made a  
            conscientious effort to hold at least one conference with a  
            parent and the pupil, after the filing of either a truancy  
            report to the attendance supervisor or district  
            superintendent.  Specifies that a habitual truant may be  
            referred to a SARB or a truancy mediation program.  (EC  
            Section 48262)

          5)Authorizes a SARB to be established at the local and county  
            level to provide intensive guidance and coordinated community  
            services to meet the needs of pupils with school attendance or  
            school behavior problems.  (EC Section 48320)  

          6)Requires the county SARB and authorizes the local SARB to  
            include, but need not be limited to, specified members  
            representing parents, local educational agencies, law  
            enforcement officials and county and community service  
            providers.  (EC Sections 48321)

          7)Authorizes a SARB to notify the district attorney or probation  
            officer, if it is determined that services cannot solve the  
            problem, or if the pupil and/or parent have failed to respond  
            to directives.  (EC Section 48263.5)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           COMMENTS  :  California's compulsory education law requires all  
          students between the ages of six and 18 to attend school  
          full-time and their parents and legal guardians to be  
          responsible for ensuring that children attend school.  A student  
          who is absent from school without a valid excuse for more than  
          30 minutes on three days in a school year is considered a  
          truant.  Parents or legal guardians are notified when their  
          children has been classified as a truant and are reminded of  








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          their obligation to compel the attendance of pupils at school.   
          Upon a pupil's third truancy in a school year and following a  
          district's conscientious effort to hold a conference with the  
          parent or legal guardian of the pupil and the pupil, a pupil is  
          classified as a habitual truant and may be referred to a SARB or  
          to the local probation officer.  Upon a fourth truancy, students  
          and/or their parents or legal guardians may be fined.  In  
          2011-12, the California Department of Education (CDE) reported a  
          truancy rate of 28.5%, with 1.829 million students out of a  
          total enrollment of 6.2 million considered truants.  

          According to the CDE, students who are chronically absent in  
          lower grades are much less likely to be proficient readers and  
          have higher levels of suspensions.  Chronic absence in the sixth  
          grade is the most predictive indicator that a student will not  
          graduate from high school.  

           SARBs .  California established a SARB process over 30 years ago  
          to provide intensive guidance and coordinated community services  
          to meet the needs of students with school attendance or school  
          behavior problems in an effort to prevent a student from  
          dropping out of school.  A county superintendent of schools may  
          convene a county SARB.  A county SARB or a local school district  
          governing board located in areas where there is not a county  
          SARB may authorize the establishment of one or more local SARBs.  
           Some areas of the state have both county and local SARBs while,  
          in other areas, a county or regional local SARB provides  
          services to multiple school districts.  The Superintendent of  
          Public Instruction is required to coordinate and administer a  
          state SARB to encourage the cooperation, coordination and  
          development of strategies to support county SARBs in carrying  
          out their responsibilities to establish local SARBs, which may  
          include training of SARB personnel.  
          
          SARBs meet with referred pupils and their parents/legal  
          guardians to assess their personal and family situations that  
          may cause pupils to be tardy or absent from school on a regular  
          basis and identify community/public resources that may help  
          pupils improve their attendance in school, or refer pupils to  
          law enforcement agencies, if necessary.  Successful SARBs are  
          those that have a prevention and intervention focus with the  
          goal of getting students back in school.      

          Existing law requires county SARBs and authorizes local SARBs to  
          include, but need not be limited to, specified members from  








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          school, local law enforcement, and community and county service  
          agencies, as follows:   

               1.     A parent
               2.     A representative of school districts
               3.     A representative of county probation department
               4.     A representative of county welfare department
               5.     A representative of county superintendent of schools
               6.     A representative of law enforcement agencies
               7.     A representative of community-based youth service  
                 centers
               8.     A representative of school guidance personnel
               9.     A representative of child welfare and attendance  
                 personnel
               10.    A representative of school or county health care  
                 personnel
               11.    A representative of school, county, or community  
                 mental health personnel

          When SARBs were initially established, county SARBs received  
          funding from the state.  Due to budget constraints, funding was  
          eliminated over 20 years ago.  Some county SARBs have been  
          eliminated as a result of the loss of funding.  There is no  
          statewide data available, but it is estimated that between 30% -  
          50% of the 58 counties do not have SARBs.  It is unclear how  
          many local SARBs are established in counties where there are no  
          county SARBs.    
           
          This bill  requires, rather than allows, the establishment of  
          county SARBs.  The bill also adds a representative from the  
          county district attorney's office to the composition of county  
          and local SARBs.  One of the important aspects of this bill is  
          that it puts an emphasis on the role of county SARBs as the body  
          that establishes guidelines, policies or programs to administer  
          the county and local SARBs and adopt plans to promote  
          interagency and community cooperation, in order to reduce the  
          duplication of services provided to youth in order to address  
          student attendance and behavior problems.  The bill gives county  
          SARBs oversight responsibility to ensure that local SARBs are  
          effective and operating in accordance with the guidelines and  
          policies they established.  

          A county SARB may continue to accept referrals or requests for  
          hearing services from one or more school districts within its  
          jurisdiction if the county SARB determines that it is best to  








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          serve the pupils in that county through a single board.   
          However, according to the author, local SARBs are more familiar  
          with the school community and are the best body to conduct  
          hearings.  The composition of county SARBs is mandatory, to  
          ensure that agencies providing a wide range of services are  
          involved, and processes are established with their input.  The  
          composition of local SARBs remains permissive to give local  
          SARBs the flexibility to determine the type of services that are  
          needed to address a pupil's specific needs. This bill also gives  
          the chairperson of a county SARB the flexibility to determine  
          who is needed at a specific hearing.  The bill maps out the  
          following for the two roles of county SARBs:

           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |                          County SARBs                           |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |--------------------------------+--------------------------------|
          |Developing Guidelines, Policies |      Conducting Hearings       |
          |           and Plans            |                                |
          |       (primary purpose)        |                                |
          |--------------------------------+--------------------------------|
          |       Required composition as |        Composition determined |
          |     specified in law with the  |     by the chairperson based   |
          |     addition of a              |     on needs of pupils to      |
          |     representative from the    |     address attendance and     |
          |     county district attorney's |     behavioral problems.       |
          |     office.                    |                                |
          |--------------------------------+--------------------------------|
          |       Meet four times a year  |        Meet as                |
          |     to develop guidelines and  |needed.                         |
          |     policies and adopt a plan  |                                |
          |     to coordinate county and   |                                |
          |     local SARB processes, and  |                                |
          |     to assess the              |                                |
          |     effectiveness of services  |                                |
          |     and supports provided by   |                                |
          |     local SARBs.               |                                |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 


          The author states, "By requiring every county to establish a  
          SARB, this bill will ensure that a plan is adopted in every  
          county to keep students in school.  Research shows that a focus  
          on the underlying causes of truancy is crucial to eliminating  
          barriers that prevent a child from attending school on a regular  








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          basis.  Early intervention - addressing the problem in  
          elementary school, and before it becomes chronic - will help  
          correct attendance issues and ensure students graduate from high  
          school.  SARBs can help connect students and their families with  
          important community resources to help address challenges they  
          face."  

          This bill is part of a package of truancy-related bills  
          sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris.  Last fall, the  
          AG's office released a report titled "In School and On Track" on  
          truancy of elementary school kids.  Calling it a crisis, the AG  
          argues that truancy at the elementary level has negative impacts  
          on the students, who are more likely to drop out of high school;  
          on public safety, when students become more likely to become  
          involved with gangs, substance abuse, and incarceration; on  
          school districts, who lose attendance dollars; and on the  
          economy, due to lost economic productivity and revenues.  

           Arguments in support  .  Kings County Superintendent of Schools  
          Tim Bowers supports the bill and states, "The Kings County  
          Office of Education has a well-functioning County SARB.  School  
          districts in California would only benefit with the  
          establishment of a County SARB by their County Offices of  
          Education.  A County SARB exists to create procedural and  
          operational uniformity in all aspects of each Local SARB."  

          The California School Boards Association (CSBA) has a support if  
          amended position.  CSBA states that a large majority of counties  
          have SARBs and that in some counties, it may make more senses  
          and be more effective to have local district or regional  
          consortia establish SARBs.  CSBA seeks amendments that focus on  
          ensuring that SARB services are available to serve students as  
          needed instead of requiring every county to have a SARB and  
          encourage SARBs to meet as often as necessary rather than a  
          blanket requirement to meet four times a year.  

           Committee amendments  :

          1)To better express the intent of the purposes of county SARBs,  
            staff recommends adding cross references to the intent  
            provisions in EC Sections 48320 and 48325 and language to  
            clarify that the goal of the policies and plans adopted by  
            county SARBs is to improve the coordination and level of  
            community and school-based programs provided to youth and  
            their families and prevent entry into the juvenile justice  








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            system.

          2)Concerns have been raised about adding a representative of the  
            county district attorney's office without also adding a  
            representative of the public defender's office to the county  
            and local SARBs.  Staff recommends adding a representative of  
            the public defender's office. 

          3)In addition to assessing the effectiveness of the services and  
            supports provided by local SARBs, staff recommends requiring a  
            county SARB to evaluate whether local SARBs are improving  
            pupil attendance and educational outcomes. 

           Related legislation  .  AB 1672 (Holden), pending in the Assembly  
          Appropriations Committee, requires the governing board of each  
          school district to adopt rules and regulations to require the  
          appropriate officers and employees of the school district to  
          gather and transmit specified data to the county superintendent  
          of schools and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

          AB 1866 (Bocanegra), pending in the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, adds truancy-related elements to the pupil attendance  
          data that the CDE is required to collect and report through the  
          CALPADS.   

          AB 2141 (Hall and Bonta), pending in the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, requires state and local authorities conducting  
          truancy-related mediations or prosecuting a pupil or a pupil's  
          parent or legal guardian to provide the outcome of each referral  
          to the agency that made a referral.  

          SB 1107 (Monning), pending in the Senate, requires the AG and  
          the CDE to jointly issue an annual report on elementary school  
          truancy and chronic absenteeism.

           Previous related legislation  .  AB 2616 (Carter), Chapter 432,  
          Statutes of 2012, made several changes to the truancy  
          provisions, including clarifying what constitutes a valid  
          excuse; authorizes, rather than requires, a pupil to be referred  
          to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court upon a fourth truancy;  
          and lowers the fine associated with a fourth truancy from $100  
          to $50.  

          AB 614 (Bonilla), Chapter 71, Statutes of 2011, requires county  
          SARBs, and authorizes local SARBs, to include a representative  








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          of school, county or community mental health.

          AB 980 (Bonilla), held by the author in the Assembly Education  
          Committee in 2011, authorizes members of a SARB to disclose and  
          exchange information or writing to other members of the SARB the  
          member believes is relevant in the prevention, identification or  
          treatment of a pupil's truancy.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Attorney General Kamala D. Harris (sponsor)
          Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley
          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
          Association of Black Correctional Workers
          California Federation of Teachers
          California School Boards Association (if amended)
          Continuing the Dream, California Department of Corrections &  
          Rehabilitation
          District Attorney of Santa Barbara County Joyce E. Dudley
          Kings County Office of Education 
          Kings County Superintendent of Schools Tim Bowers
          Lincoln Child Center
          Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer
          Los Angeles District Attorney's Office
          Los Angeles Unified School District
          San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon
          Service Employees International Union
          SIATech
          Special Needs Network
          Stockton Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Steven  
          Lowder
          Several individuals

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087  













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