LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Pasadena lawmaker Monday joined California Attorney General Kamala Harris to unveil legislation that aims to tackle what officials are calling a “truancy crisis” in elementary schools statewide.

KNX 1070’s Jan Stevens reports state Assemblyman Chris Holden wants to ensure reporting accuracy among schools to determine patterns in truancy, which officials say in turn can be linked to crime rates.

Introduced by Holden in February, Assembly Bill 1672 requires local Student Attendance Review Boards (SARB) to report information on student enrollment, absence and truancy rates, as well as intervention outcomes.

According to a 2013 report from Harris’ office, of more than 813,000 elementary students enrolled in Los Angeles County, 166,469 — or more than 20 percent — were marked as truant. In San Bernardino County, over 67,000 elementary students were marked truant last year at a rate of more than 28 percent.

Orange County, which has over 25,000 more elementary school students than San Bernardino County, had a truancy rate over just over 12 percent, according to the report.

Holden said his legislation will work to ensure schools, districts, and counties can evaluate the success of truancy intervention efforts in order to keep students from turning to illegal activity.

“If they’re not in the classroom, there certainly is a higher propensity to find themselves aligning with people who are up to no good,” Holden said. “All it takes is one run-in with the law that can all of a sudden alter a person’s path to life.”

In California, a student is truant if he/she is absent or tardy by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse on three occasions in a school year. A student is considered chronically truant if he/she is absent without a valid excuse for at least 10 percent of the school year.

Harris September 2013 report, In School + On Track, also revealed that in 2012 alone, one million elementary school students in California were truant at an annual cost of $1.4 billion in lost funds to school districts statewide.


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