BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                          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  








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               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). (EC48262)

             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.








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               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  








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                    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  










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           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. 








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           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.









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          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.