BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                              Senator Carol Liu, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:              AB 1014           
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          |Author:    |Thurmond                                             |
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          |Version:   |June 1, 2015                                Hearing  |
          |           |Date:     July 8, 2015                               |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:     |Yes             |
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          |Consultant:|Lenin Del Castillo                                   |
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          Subject:  Pupils:  truancy:  Our Children's Success - The Early  
          Intervention Attendance Pilot Grant Program

            SUMMARY
          
          This bill establishes the Our Children's Success - The Early  
          Intervention Attendance Pilot Grant Program for the purpose of  
          helping public schools resolve attendance problems of pupils in  
          kindergarten or grades 1 to 3.  

            BACKGROUND
          
          The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act was approved by voters as  
          Proposition 47 in November 2014 and makes significant changes to  
          the state's criminal justice system.  It reduces the penalties  
          for certain non-violent, non-serious drug and property crimes,  
          and requires that the resulting state savings be spent on 1)  
          mental health and substance use services; 2) truancy and dropout  
          prevention; and 3) victim services.  Further, Proposition 47  
          requires that 25 percent of the Safe Neighborhoods School Fund  
          be allocated to the California Department of Education (CDE) to  
          administer a grant program to reduce truancy, high school  
          dropout, and student victimization rates.  

            ANALYSIS
          
          This bill:

          1)Makes various findings and declarations regarding the truancy  
            of students and its effects.







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          2)Establishes Our Children's Success - The Early Intervention  
            Attendance Pilot Grant Program under the administration of the  
            CDE.


          3)Provides that the program shall be implemented upon the  
            appropriation of sufficient funding.


          4)Provides that a public school, school district or county  
            office of education (COE) maintaining any of grades  
            kindergarten through grade 3 seeking to participate in the  
            grant program may apply to the CDE for a grant.  Requires an  
            application submitted by a public school, school district or  
            COE to reflect a plan that may include, but is not necessarily  
            limited to, all of the following:


             a)   Establishment of a training program for key school  
               officials and attendance staff to identify pupils with  
               chronic attendance problems upon their second occurrence of  
               tardiness or absence in a school year, and the mailing of  
               attendance letters to the pupil's home in a timely manner.


             b)   Establishment of a phone call outreach program,  
               including a minimum of two calls from a school official,  
               not limited to a recording, to follow up on those pupils  
               whose attendance problems continue during that school year  
               after the attendance letters are mailed.


             c)   Establishment of a parent advocate position or  
               positions, designated for ongoing follow-up with the pupil  
               and the parent throughout the school year to ensure the  
               pupil's continued consistent school attendance.  The number  
               of these parent advocate positions may vary according to  
               the applicant's needs, resources, and the parent advocate's  
               ability to manage the workload.


             d)   Establishment of an outreach worker position or  








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               positions whose primary job is assisting families with a  
               child or children who have ongoing chronic attendance  
               problems.  The duties of an outreach worker include sending  
               letters, making phone calls and home visits, and helping to  
               connect the family to the appropriate local, state, or  
               federal programs in order to resolve issues that are  
               creating impediments to the child's consistent attendance  
               in school. The number of these outreach worker positions  
               can vary according to the school's needs, resources, and  
               the outreach worker's ability to manage the workload.


             e)   Determination that the applicant's plan is instituted,  
               to the best of the applicant's ability, before a pupil  
               enters the school attendance review board (SARB) process.


             f)   Establishment of a plan for teacher follow-up with  
               pupils with chronic attendance problems to make up for lost  
               instructional time.


             g)   Establishment of a plan to track both longitudinal,  
               pupil level and pupil attendance and aggregate data on  
               tardiness and attendance throughout the school year to  
               determine whether improvement has been made.


             h)   Establishment of a plan to assess trends in attendance  
               and chronic absence rates among pupils who are English  
               learners, eligible for a free or reduced-price meal, or are  
               foster youth, and target resources towards those groups of  
               pupils who are most at risk for ongoing attendance  
               problems.


             i)   Submission of deidentified, aggregate data on chronic  
               absence and attendance rates to the Bureau of Children's  
               Justice within the Department of Justice for inclusion in  
               the report "In School + On Track" prepared by the Office of  
               the Attorney General.  Defines "deidentified" as  
               information that cannot be used to identify an individual  
               student.









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          5)Requires an applicant to include an estimate for the amount of  
            the grant needed in the application and provide 20 percent  
            matching funds for any amount requested, as specified.


          6)Specifies that the program established by this section shall  
            not be construed as a replacement of or a substitution for the  
            SARB.


          7)Requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to give  
            priority for awarding grants to those applicants who  
            demonstrate financial need for the grant and with the highest  
            truancy rates in each of the following areas:


             a)   Urban areas.


             b)   Rural areas.


             c)   Suburban areas.


          8)Specifies the following regarding the grants:


             a)   The grants shall be awarded for three years and be used  
               to address the attendance problems of pupils in  
               kindergarten and in grades 1 to 3, inclusive, pursuant to  
               the plans submitted by the applicant.


             b)   Each grant shall be for no more than $500,000.


             c)   Requires the CDE to provide no less than 10 grants and  
               award no more than $5 million in grants.


          9)Requires an applicant that receives a grant to submit a report  
            to the CDE at the conclusion of the grant.  Requires the  








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            report to specify how the grant funds were used and the  
            strategies employed to address pupil attendance problems.   
            Requires the report to include pupil attendance data measured  
            both before and after the implementation of the grant.


          10)Requires the CDE to, on or before January 1, 2021, submit a  
            report to the respective Appropriations Committees and  
            Education Committees of the Assembly and the Senate.  Requires  
            the report to evaluate the strategies and the attendance data  
            of the applicants that received funds from the grant program  
            established by this bill.  Requires the report to include, but  
            not necessarily be limited to, a recommendation on whether the  
            grant program should continue.


          11)Sunsets and repeals on January 1, 2022, unless a later  
            enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2022,  
            deletes or extends that date.  


          12)Appropriates an unspecified amount to the CDE for purposes of  
            implementing the Our Children's Success - The Early  
            Intervention Attendance Grant Program.  Expresses the intent  
            of the Legislature that the funds appropriated pursuant to  
            this bill be drawn from sources that may include, but are not  
            necessarily limited to, the General Fund, the Safe  
            Neighborhoods and Schools Fund established by Proposition 47  
            on the November 2014 statewide general election ballot,  
            federal and local government funds, and contributions from  
            nonprofit organizations and other private entities.

          STAFF COMMENTS
          
       1)Need for the bill.  According to the author's office, this bill  
            attempts to improve student attendance while generating needed  
            revenue for schools, and creating brighter, long term outcomes  
            for California's youth.  This bill is modeled after an  
            attendance program established by the Berkeley Unified School  
            District (BUSD), which spent $100,000 in the first year and  
            saw an increase of $500,000 in Average Daily Attendance (ADA)  
            the following year.  The author indicates that "the school  
            district successfully brought the students back into the  
            classroom, while at the same time helping their families  








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            address the challenges that lead to the students' attendance  
            problems.  Attendance levels at BUSD have remained high due to  
            the school district's focus on holistic solutions to the  
            complex set of problems that cause children to miss school  
            regularly.  Schools and school districts across the country  
            are demonstrating the value of addressing student attendance  
            prior to the point of delinquency.  Early intervention and a  
            broad set of tools is the best way to get children back into  
            the classroom consistently."  

       2)Truancy in schools.  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 have 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 school attendance review board (SARB) or to  
            the local probation officer.  Upon a fourth truancy, students  
            and/or their parents or legal guardians may be fined.  In  
            2012-13, the CDE reported a truancy rate of 29.28%, with 1.9  
            million students out of a total enrollment of 6.2 million  
            considered truants.  

            According to the California Department of Education (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.  

       3)Proposition 47.  The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) released  
            a report on the Implementation of Proposition 47 in February  
            2015.  In the report, the LAO indicates that while the state  
            savings that will result from Proposition 47 is subject to  
            significant uncertainty, annual savings will likely range from  
            $100 million to $200 million beginning in 2016-17.  The LAO  
            also notes that although Proposition 47 states that these  








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            savings shall be deposited into a new state fund, the new Safe  
            Neighborhood and Schools Fund (SNSF), and be allocated for  
            grant programs administered by specific departments, the  
            Legislature has the opportunity to provide direction on how  
            the funds are spent.  Specifically, the Legislature could  
            weigh in on 1) how the individual departments should  
            distribute the funds and 2) how much state oversight to  
            provide to ensure that the funds are being spent effectively.   


            Proposition 47 requires that 25 percent of the SNSF be  
            allocated to the CDE to administer a grant program to reduce  
            truancy, high school dropouts, and student victimization  
            rates.  The LAO estimates that the amount available for this  
            grant program will likely total between $25 million and $50  
            million annually beginning in 2016-17.  The LAO recommended in  
            its report that the Legislature allocate the grants for  
            truancy, high school dropout prevention, and student  
            victimization rates to 
            school districts that have notably high concentrations of  
            English learners, low-income, or foster youth, as these  
            students are at higher risk for these concerning outcomes. 

            In light of the impending implementation of Proposition 47 and  
            most notably, the grant program to be administered by the  
            California Department of Education (CDE) to reduce truancy,  
            high school dropouts, and student victimization rates, the  
            Committee may wish to consider whether this bill is necessary  
            as it seeks to accomplish substantially similar objectives and  
            would appear to be duplicative.

       4)Attorney General's office report.  In 2013, the Attorney  
            General's (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.

       5)Fiscal impact.  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
            Committee, this bill would impost General Fund (GF)  








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            administrative costs to the CDE of approximately $600,000 to  
            create and review the application, assist with implementation  
            of the grant and provide technical assistance.  These costs  
            assume applications flow from the district.  The CDE  
            anticipates additional staff resources if individual school  
            sites submit applications.  There would be additional costs in  
            the range of $150,000 to $200,000 to complete the report at  
            the end of the pilot, most likely through a contract.   
            Proposition 98 General Fund costs would not exceed $5 million  
            dollars, contingent upon an appropriation for the purpose of  
            establishing the grant program.

            SUPPORT
          
          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
          Attorney General (sponsor)
          California Alliance of Child and Family Services
          California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies
          California Dental Association
          California State PTA
          Children Now
          National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter

            OPPOSITION
           
           None received.

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