A Bay Area district takes a community approach to tackle truancy
For many years, some students from Hayward’s Mt. Eden High School would cut class to go to a nearby convenience store. They would climb a chain-link fence surrounding the school and cross the street to the Rotten Robbie gas station’s store, where they would buy soda, chips and candy. No more.
This year, local police and Hayward Unified school officials went door to door and asked businesses to refuse to serve school-aged youths during school hours. If students persist in coming during the school day, merchants are given a phone number to call police, who
take the truants back to school.
“The objective is not to arrest them,” said district Superintendent Stanley Dobbs. Instead, he said, “we provide services to make sure our students who have fallen get across the line.” The program is part of Dobbs’ campaign to engage the community in supporting its youngest citizens.
Child Welfare and Attendance outreach workers from the school district meet with every truant student – and their parents, school counselor and the assistant principal – to determine what needs to change so the student will stop skipping school.
Help could include connecting students with a counselor for behavior or substance abuse problems, getting them enrolled in an after-school program to catch up on missing credits so they can graduate, or sending them to a clinic if there are health issues that prevent them from attending school regularly.
“We’re trying to knock down as many barriers as we can,” said Andrew Kevy, Hayward Unified’s coordinator of Child Welfare and Attendance. “Building resiliency and getting rid of bad habits are the most difficult to address.”
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