BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 1643 (Buchanan)
          As Amended  May 23, 2014
          Majority vote 

           EDUCATION           6-0         APPROPRIATIONS      13-0        
           
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          |Ayes:|Buchanan, Olsen,          |Ayes:|Gatto, Bocanegra,         |
          |     |Gonzalez, Nazarian,       |     |Bradford,                 |
          |     |Weber, Williams           |     |Ian Calderon, Campos,     |
          |     |                          |     |Eggman, Gomez, Holden,    |
          |     |                          |     |Linder, Pan, Quirk,       |
          |     |                          |     |Ridley-Thomas, Weber      |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           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 and a representative of the  
          county public defender'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 in order to  
            address attendance and behavioral problems, improve the  
            coordination and level of community and school-based programs  
            provided to pupils and their families, and prevent entry into  
            the juvenile justice system.    

          2)Specifies that a county SARB may accept referrals or requests  
            for hearing services from one or more school districts within  
            its jurisdiction.  Specifies that a county SARB may be  
            operated through a consortium or partnership of a county with  
            one or more school districts or between two or more counties.

          3)Adds a representative of the county district attorney's office  
            and a representative of the county public defender's office to  
            the county SARBs, or, if more than one county is represented,  








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            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)Requires a county superintendent of schools to convene a  
            meeting of the county SARB at the beginning of each school  
            year for purposes of developing guidelines and policies and  
            adopting plans.  

          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, and to assess whether the local SARBs subject to its  
            oversight are improving the attendance and educational  
            outcomes for pupils.

          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  
            and a representative of the county public defender'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.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations  








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          Committee:

          1)Annual General Fund (GF) and Proposition 98 (1988) state  
            mandated costs in the range of $1 million to $3 million for  
            all 58 county offices of education to establish a SARB and  
            conduct a minimum of four meetings per year. 

          2)Ongoing administrative costs to California Department of  
            Education (CDE) of $76,000 GF to provide technical assistance  
            and training to support counties in establishing county SARBs.  
            This support includes assisting a county with the development  
            of effective bylaws, rules and regulations. 

           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  
          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 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.  

          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  








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          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 or 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 or 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  
          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.








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          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%  
          to 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 and a representative of the  
          county public defender'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.  This 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  
          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 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  








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          on the underlying causes of truancy is crucial to eliminating  
          barriers that prevent a child from attending school on a regular  
          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 (AG) 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.  

           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087  



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