District Attorney and Superintendent Launch Truancy Intervention Program at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School

Tuesday, August 28, 2013

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, SFDA’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
Gentle Blythe, SFUSD, (415) 415.241.6565

(San Francisco) –District Attorney George Gascón and Superintendent Richard Carranza launched a truancy intervention program at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School, an alternative school whose mission is to work with chronically truant students and their families. San Francisco Board of Education President Rachel Norton, Ida B. Wells Principal Richard Duber. Director of the Truancy Assessment and Resource Center (TARC) Cessnae Crawford, the District Attorney and the Superintendent spoke of their collective responsibility to keep students in school and on track to graduate.

“When it comes to the issue of school attendance, we can’t afford not to intervene because today’s truant is tomorrow’s dropout,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “By helping high risk students, we hope to break the cycle of poverty and crime that often plagues high school dropouts, and ultimately affects all San Franciscans.”

“Instructional time really makes a difference for a young person’s success in school and beyond. We’re focused on making sure that students have the support they need to come to school, stay in school and learn while they‘re in school,” said Superintendent Richard A. Carranza. “Smart research proven strategies such as using early warning indicators and building strong relationships with students, along with the support of community partners like the DA’s office, has really helped turn the tide on school attendance in our city.”

The District Attorney’s office will help bring more TARC services to Ida B. Wells this year. According to Wells Principal Richard Duber, average daily attendance is about 65%. Wells serves students who have had a history of low attendance and/or low academic achievement and who are at a high risk of dropping out altogether. Students of color comprise 83% of the student population with 26% identified as English language learners. 21% are Special Education students and 86% qualify for free or reduced lunches.

“Our job at Ida B. Wells is to help students move from truancy and low credits to regular attendance and graduation. Some students have had so many obstacles placed between them and school that they need support to re-engage. The resources that Wells is receiving from District Attorney Gascon’s office will help us reach out and support non-attending students and their families,” said Principal Duber. “Ida B. Wells has the resources to help students succeed. The real issue is getting them in the door in the first place.”

The District Attorney’s Office has allocated $130,000 this year for truancy intervention programs to continue at Burton High School and begin at Ida B. Wells High School. Through this funding, a case manager from TARC will provide intensive support to 20 to 25 students and work with Ida B. Wells staff to develop a multifaceted truancy intervention strategy. In the two years since the Burton High Truancy Prevention Program was launched, there has been an improvement in grades and attendance in participating students’ sophomore year. Students are also reporting feeling more connected to adults and to their school community.

Since 2007 when the partnership to combat truancy between the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and SFUSD began, there has been a 31 percent decline in chronic and habitual truancy across the district
Secondary students, identified using San Francisco Unified School District’s early warning indicators’ data, receive individual case management provided by the Truancy Assessment and Resource Center (TARC).

Families in need of attendance -related assistance are encouraged to contact SFUSD by calling 415-241-3030.