Truancy is far more serious than just skipping school to go fishing. It is a serious warning sign that a student is experiencing underlying issues that must be addressed before the situation becomes more serious. Unchecked, truancy often results in academic failure, poor self-esteem, or dropping out of school.
At a joint news conference Wednesday, Monterey County school officials and representatives from the Monterey County District Attorney’s office told reporters that the county has among the lowest truancy rates in California, thanks in large part to its longstanding Truancy Abatement Program.
“Out of over 1,000 mediation hearings, we see improvement in attendance in 800,” said Dean Flippo, District Attorney. “That’s a remarkable percentage.”
The multi-step intervention program recently received a top state educational honor, the Golden Bell Award, presented by the California School Boards Association.
“Every one of our 24 school districts is involved in the program, supports the program, and is thankful for the work that’s being done with the support of the District Attorney’s Office,” said Dr. Nancy Kotowski, County Superintendent of Schools.
Claudia Rodriguez Camacho, Danielle Rodriguez, and Carlos Jimenez, all 17, are three students who have firsthand experience with the program. They were chronically truant, and contacted several times by the District Attorney’s office. Each was referred to the Silver Star alternative education program in Salinas, where they say they have thrived.
“I took a hard look at my life, and I decided I wanted to be something better,” said Danielle. “I enrolled (at Silver Star) and all the kids were nice and friendly, as well as the teachers, who support you on a whole different level.”
While Silver Star students work to earn academic credits, many enroll concurrently in the Academy for College Excellence (ACE) at Hartnell College. Students told reporters their future plans include college and career. Danielle hopes to study zoology, Carlos wants a career in Pharmacy or Physical Therapy, and Claudia (in all seriousness) wants to be a coroner.