BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair AB 1643 (Buchanan) - School Attendance Review Boards Amended: June 12, 2014 Policy Vote: Education 7-0 Urgency: No Mandate: Yes Hearing Date: August 4, 2014 Consultant: Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: AB 1643 requires each county to have a school attendance review board (SARB), as specified. Fiscal Impact: Mandate: Substantial reimbursable state mandate, likely $6 - $10 million (General Fund), for the counties' costs to establish, staff, and maintain SARBs that meet all of the requirements of this bill. Ongoing costs would vary by county, but are likely to be in the millions of dollars (General Fund) annually. School district SARBs: Potentially significant local costs to school districts that have SARBs, to the extent that they continue them, to ensure that they meet the new statutory requirements. Technical assistance: Approximately $100,000 (General Fund) annually, for at least two years, for the California Department of Education (CDE) to provide technical assistance and training to counties to create SARBs and/or ensure a county SARB complies with the requirements of this bill. Costs in future years could be reduced, to the extent that county SARBs need less state support. Background: Existing law defines a truant as a student who is absent for 3 full days, or tardy or absent for more than a 30-minute period on 3 occasions, without a valid excuse in one school year. Truants must be reported to the attendance supervisor or superintendent of the school district. School districts are required to notify the student's parent upon the initial classification of truancy. (EC § 48260 et. seq.) Existing law defines a habitual truant as a student who has been reported as a truant 3 or more times per school year (absent or tardy without an excuse for at least 5 days). It also requires AB 1643 (Buchanan) Page 1 school districts to first make a conscientious effort to hold at least one conference with a parent and the student prior to classifying the student as a habitual truant. (EC § 48262) Existing law authorizes, but does not require, a county and/or local SARB to be established. If 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) School districts may refer the student to, and the student is required 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)) Existing law defines a chronic truant as a student who is absent without a valid excuse for 10% or more of the schooldays in the year, provided that the appropriate school district officer or employee has complied with existing reporting and intervention requirements. (EC § 48263.6) Existing law also generally provides for the jurisdiction of the juvenile court over a person under the age of 18 who "persistently or habitually refuses to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian, or who is beyond the control of that person," or who violates curfew offenses, as specified. These types of offenses are known generally as "status" offenses - acts that are illegal only if committed by juveniles. (Welfare and Institutions Code § 601) Proposed Law: AB 1643 requires each county to establish and maintain a county SARB. With regard to these SARBs, this bill: 1) Establishes the primary purpose of required county SARBs as: a) to develop guidelines, policies, or programs; b) to administer the county SARBs; c) to advise the local SARB; and, d) to adopt plans to promote interagency, family, and community cooperation and coordination in order to address attendance and behavioral problems and to prevent entry into the juvenile justice system. AB 1643 (Buchanan) Page 2 2) Authorizes a county SARB to accept referrals or requests for hearing services from school districts within its jurisdiction, and authorizes a county SARB to be operated through a consortium or partnership of a county with one or more school districts or between two or more counties. 3) Deletes the authority of a 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. 4) Authorizes the chairperson of the county SARB to determine, for purposes of conducting hearings, which SARB members are needed at a hearing, based on needs of the student. 5) 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 (DA's) office, and may include a representative of each county DA if more than one county is represented in the SARB; and, b) a representative of the county public defender's (PD's) office, and may include a representative of each county PD if more than one county is represented in the SARB. 6) Changes the purpose of the county SARB meeting that is required at the beginning of each school year, as specified. 7) Requires county SARBs to meet three times each school year in addition to the initial meeting, 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) Requires local SARBs to be bound by the rules and regulations established in current law that are specific to county SARBs. 9) States that county SARBs are to meet as needed. AB 1643 (Buchanan) Page 3 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 will also be heard in this Committee on August 4, 2014. AB 1866 (Bocanegra) expands data in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System to include chronic absentee numbers, and truancy numbers and rates. AB 1866 will also be heard in this Committee on August 4, 2014. AB 2141 (Hall) requires a state or local authority conducting truancy-related mediation or prosecuting a student or parent to provide to school districts, SARBs, the county superintendent of schools and probation department with the outcome of each referral. AB 2141 will also be heard in this Committee on August 4, 2014. AB 2195 (Achadjian) allows truancy cases to be referred to the Informal Juvenile and Traffic Court and be heard by a juvenile hearing officer, as specified. AB 2195 will also be heard in this Committee on August 4, 2014. SB 1107 (Monning) 2014 would have required 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 on the Suspense File in this Committee. Staff Comments: This bill enacts a substantial new mandate on all counties. Currently, counties can elect to operate SARBS, but are not required to do so. Making a currently optional activity mandatory for all counties will be deemed by the Commission on State Mandates to be a new reimbursable mandate. The state will be responsible for reimbursing counties for establishing and operating SARBS; even counties that already have SARBs which they fund from local resources will be eligible to receive state reimbursement for those activities. The state will likely be responsible for personnel, meeting, and coordination costs associated with the SARB. If every county had just one staff person dedicated to administering the SARB, the cost would be nearly $6 million statewide. Large counties are likely to have more than one staff person for administration, as AB 1643 (Buchanan) Page 4 well as additional staff for clerical support. In addition to the general mandate to establish and maintain a SARB, this bill mandates the following specific standards and activities for each SARB which will increase the mandate costs: Oversight : This bill requires the county SARB to provide guidance to local SARBs. Staff time to coordinate with, and train, local SARBs will be reimbursable. This bill also gives the county SARB the authority to "determine" that pupil needs are best met by a single board and make itself that board. Any expanded SARB workload to serve all students in the county would be reimbursable. Membership and Meetings : This bill specifies the required membership of a SARB, but indicates that the SARB need not be limited to those individuals. The SARB must meet three times each school year in addition to an initial annual meeting, 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. This bill further requires that county SARBs meet "as needed" to conduct hearings. Coordinating a body of at least 13 representatives to meet at least four times per year will require significant staff time, which will be reimbursable. Local SARBs : This bill specifies that local SARBs are bound by the rules and regulations of their county SARBs. School districts are not required to have local SARBs, but many do; this would place an existing local SARB under the authority of an entity that may not even exist yet. This requirement will likely create a disincentive for school districts to operate local SARBs that could result in school district savings, at the direct expense of the state.