BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Carol Liu, Chair 2013-2014 Regular Session BILL NO: AB 1643 AUTHOR: Buchanan AMENDED: June 12, 2014 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: June 18, 2014 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT: Lynn Lorber SUBJECT : School attendance review boards. SUMMARY This bill requires each county to have a school attendance review board. BACKGROUND Current law: School attendance review boards 1) Authorizes, but does not require, a county and/or local school attendance review board (SARB) to be established. SARB membership must include parents, school districts, county probation, county welfare, county superintendent of schools, law enforcement, community-based youth services, and personnel representing school guidance, child welfare and attendance, school or county health care, and mental health. (EC § 48321) 2) Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to coordinate and administer a state SARB, which is to provide recommendations annually regarding the needs and services provided to high-risk youth. (EC § 48325) Truancy 1) Defines a truant as a student who is absent for three full days, or tardy or absent for more than a 30-minute AB 1643 Page 2 period on three occasions, without a valid excuse in one school year. (EC § 48260) 2) Authorizes a school district in a county that does not have a school attendance review board (SARB) to notify the county district attorney or probation officer, and authorizes those entities to notify the parents of every truant that they may be subject to prosecution for failure to compel the attendance of the student. (EC § 48260.6) Habitual truancy 1) Defines a habitual truant as a student who has been reported as a truant three or more times per school year (absent or tardy without an excuse for at least five days). (EC§48262) 2) Authorizes the school district to refer the student to, and requires the student to attend, a SARB or a truancy mediation program. The student may be within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court if the student does not successfully complete the truancy mediation program. (EC § 48264.5(c)) ANALYSIS This bill requires each county to have a school attendance review board. Specifically, this bill: 1) Requires, rather than authorize, each county to establish a county school attendance review board (SARB). 2) Establishes the primary purpose of county SARBs as follows: a) Develop guidelines, policies, or programs. b) Administer the county SARBs. AB 1643 Page 3 c) Advise the local SARB. d) Adopt plans to: i) Promote interagency and community cooperation in order to address attendance and behavioral problems. ii) Improve the coordination and level of community and school-based programs provided to students and their families. iii)Prevent entry into the juvenile justice system. 3) Authorizes county SARBs to accept referrals or requests for hearing services from school districts within its jurisdiction, and authorizes county SARBs to be operated through a consortium or partnership of a county with one or more school districts or between two or more counties. 4) Deletes the authority the county SARB to provide consultant services to, and coordinate activities of, local SARBs, and instead requires the county SARB to provide guidance to local SARBs. 5) Authorizes the chairperson of the county SARB to determine, for purposes of conducting hearings, which members are needed at a hearing, based on needs of the student. 6) Adds as representatives that must be included on county SARBs and may be included on local (school district) SARBs: a) A representative of the county district attorney's office, and may include a representative of each county district attorney if more than one county is represented in the SARB. b) A representative of the county AB 1643 Page 4 public defender's office, and may include a representative of each county public defender if more than one county is represented in the SARB. 7) Requires county SARBs to meet three times each school year in addition to the meeting described below for the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of services and supports that its SARBs provide to youth and their families, and to assess whether the local SARBs within the county are improving the attendance and educational outcomes for students. 8) Changes the purpose of the county SARB meeting that is required at the beginning of each school year from adopting plans to promote interagency and community cooperation and reduce duplication of services, to developing guidelines and policies and adopting plans as described in #2 above. 9) Requires local SARBs to be bound by the rules and regulations established in current law that are specific to county SARBs. 10) States that county SARBs are to meet as needed. STAFF COMMENTS 1) Recent report on truancy . The California Attorney General issued a report in the Fall of 2013 titled, In School + On Track, which included several recommendations, some of which: a) District attorneys should participate on school attendance review boards (SARBs). b) Require statewide reporting of student attendance records. c) Require more comprehensive reporting of school attendance review board activities. https://oag.ca.gov/truancy AB 1643 Page 5 2) How many counties have a SARB ? The State does not collect data relative to which counties have a SARB or which school districts have a local SARB. The Attorney General's 2013 report indicates that at least 43 of the 58 counties in California have maintained a county or local SARB. It is estimated that approximately one-half of the counties may have a SARB. 3) Other truancy programs . Some truancy programs currently operate that are not an actual SARB. For example, the Monterey County District Attorney's Office conducts a truancy abatement program that works with schools to ensure compliance with compulsory education laws. Monterey County does not have a county SARB; if this bill were to become law, that county would be required to establish a SARB, regardless of the operation or success of the existing truancy program. What changes would be necessary, and how difficult would it be, for Monterey's truancy program to become the county SARB? Should this bill allow other truancy programs to serve as an alternative to a county SARB? 4) Primary purpose . Current law does not specify the primary purpose(s) of a county SARB. This bill would provide that the primary purposes are to, among other things, advise and provide guidance to local SARBs; assess the effectiveness of services and supports; assess whether the local SARBs within the county are improving the attendance and educational outcomes for students. Do county SARBs have this capacity and expertise, particularly in counties that do not currently have a county SARB but do have local SARBs, or another type of truancy program? 5) Members of the SARB . Current law prescribes the representation on SARBs; this bill adds representatives of the county district attorney and the county public defender as members. This bill authorizes the chairperson of the county SARB to determine, for purposes of conducting hearings involving students, which members are needed at a hearing, based on needs of the student. Attendance at meetings to develop policies and adopt plans is not discretionary. AB 1643 Page 6 6) Broader structural issues . This bill does not address other gaps in truancy laws, some of which were highlighted in the Attorney General's 2013 report: a) Upon the initial truancy, school districts are authorized but not required to request the student and parent attend a meeting to discuss the root causes of the attendance issue and develop a joint plan to improve attendance. b) Local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to notify parents upon the first truancy but not upon the second truancy. c) LEAs are authorized but not required to refer a student to a SARB or a truancy mediation program. 7) Fiscal impact . According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, this bill would impose: a) Annual General Fund (GF) and Proposition 98 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. b) 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. 8) Related legislation . AB 1672 (Holden) expands the data that local SARBs are currently required to submit to the county superintendent of schools, to include specific data regarding chronic absenteeism, and referrals to SARBs or other interventions. AB 1672 is scheduled to be heard in this Committee on June 25. AB 1643 Page 7 SB 1107 (Monning) requires the California Department of Education and Attorney General to report annually on specific information regarding truancy and chronic absenteeism in kindergarten through grade five. SB 1107 was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 1866 (Bocanegra) expands data in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System to include chronic absentee numbers (in addition to existing requirement to report rates), and truancy numbers and rates. AB 1866 is scheduled to be heard by this Committee on June 18. AB 2141 (Hall) requires a state or local authority conducting truancy-related mediation or prosecuting a student or parent to provide to school districts, school attendance review boards, the county superintendent of schools and probation department with the outcome of each referral. AB 2141 is scheduled to be heard in this Committee on June 18. SB 1296 (Leno) prohibits a court from imprisoning, holding in physical confinement or placing in custody a minor for contempt if the contempt consists of the minor's failure to comply with a court order regarding truancy. SB 1296 is pending on the Assembly Floor. SUPPORT Los Angeles Unified School District OPPOSITION None on file.