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A comprehensive Approach to Improving Student Attendance in Los Angeles County a report from the School Attendance Task Force

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A Comprehensive Approach
Improving Student Attendance
in Los Angeles County

A Report from the School Attendance Task Force

(Originally Convened as the Truancy Task Force)

A Project of the Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council

January 2012

Table of Contents

Table of Contents i

List of Tables iii

List of Figures iii

School Attendance Task Force Members iv

Foreword vi

Introduction 1

Background 2

Key Definitions 2

Legal Definitions 2

Definitions from Social Science Research 3

Key Facts 3

Legal Framework 4

Statutes that Criminalize Truancy 4

School Attendance Review Boards and Truancy Mediation 4

Daytime Curfew Ordinances 5

Efforts to Move from Criminalization to Prevention- and Research-Based Alternatives 7

Historic Opportunity to Implement a Research-Based, Comprehensive Approach: the Countywide School Attendance Task Force 10

Task Force Findings Related to Emerg­ing, Effective Research-Based Alternatives 12

Research Summary 12

Data Collection/Analysis System and an Assessment Process for Students with Attendance Issues 12

Parental Involvement 13

Broad School-Based Interventions 13

Mental Health Treatment Paired With Parent Training and School/Family Communication 14

National Best Practice Models: Alhambra and Baltimore 14

Alhambra Unified School District 14

Baltimore City Schools 19

Task Force Recommendations 24

Countywide 24

Schools 24

Juvenile Court 29

Law Enforcement 31

Municipalities 32

Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers 33

Communities 33

Conclusion 35

Los Angeles Police Department 40

Los Angeles School Police Department 44

Three-Tiered Attendance Intervention Model 51

Discipline Foundation Policy School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Program 52

September 20, 2010 53

December 1, 2010 54

February 7, 2011 55

March 2, 2011 55

April 4, 2011 56

May 2, 2011 57

June 6, 2011 58

August 9, 2011 59

August 23, 2011 60

September 13, 2011 60

Parent University 63

Incredible Years 64

List of Tables

Table 1. Alhambra Unified School District Disciplinary Exclusions 18

List of Figures

Figure 1. Alhambra Unified School District Gateway to Success Behavioral Pyramid 15

Figure 2. Baltimore City Schools Discipline Code 21

Figure 3. Baltimore City Schools Decreases in Absences and Suspensions 22

School Attendance Task Force Members


Michael Nash, Presiding Judge, Juvenile Court


Sharon Watson, Education Coordinating Council

Juvenile Court

Donna Groman, Supervising Judge, Delinquency Court

Margaret Henry, Supervising Judge, Dependency Court

Jack Furay, Supervising Referee, Informal Juvenile and Traffic Court

Sherri Sobel, Co-Chair, Juvenile Court Education Committee and Referee, Dependency Court

Law Enforcement

Los Angeles County District Attorney—Lydia Bodin, Deputy in Charge, Abolish Chronic Truancy

City of Los Angeles Attorney—Kristen Byrdsong, Attorney-in-Charge, Truancy Prosecution and Prevention

Los Angeles Police Department—Earl Paysinger, Assistant Chief and Director of Operations

Los Angeles School Police Department—Steve Zipperman, Chief

Legal Community

Public Defender—Jane Newman, Head Deputy, Collaborative and Restorative Justice Services

Children’s Law Center—Carol Richardson, Children’s Conflict Panel Administrator

Public Counsel—Laura Faer, Education Rights Director; Judy Verduzco, Social Worker

ACLU of Southern California—David Sapp, Staff Attorney

Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office

Trish Ploehn, Director, Service Integration Branch

Vincent Holmes, Gang Prevention Initiative

Los Angeles County Youth Departments

Department of Children and Family Services—Eric Marts, Deputy Director

Probation Department—Jeremy Nichols, Director of School Services

City of Los Angeles

Tony Cárdenas, Los Angeles City Councilmember, Sixth District

Michael de la Rocha, Office of Councilmember Tony Cárdenas


Los Angeles County Office of Education—Ray Vincent, Community Health and Safe Schools

Alhambra Unified School District—Laurel Bear, Director, Student Services

Long Beach Unified School District—Rick Tebbano, District-Wide Administrator, Child Welfare and Attendance

Los Angeles Unified School District—Elmer Roldan, Community Affairs Deputy, Office of Board President Mónica Garcia; Debra Duardo, Director, Pupil Services

Lynwood Unified School District—Edward Velázquez, Superintendent

Pomona Unified School District—Maria Espinoza, Child Welfare and Attendance Office

New Village Charter School—Belinda Walker, Board of Directors


Manuel Criollo, Lead Organizer; Zoe Rawson, Attorney/Community Advocate, Community Rights Campaign and Public Counsel

Keith Gibbs, Founder and CEO, Sarges Community Base

Susan Lee, Director of Urban Peace, The Advancement Project

Michelle Newell, The Children’s Defense Fund

Miller Sylvan, Regional Director, Attendance Improvement Management

Eugenia Wilson, Program Director, Living Advantage

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