District Attorney George Gascón and Superintendent Carlos Garcia Announce Innovative Pilot Program to Combat Chronic Truancy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, October 12, 2011

Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA’s Office (415) 553-1167
Gentle Blythe, SFUSD, (415) 241-6565

San Francisco – District Attorney George Gascón and Superintendent Carlos Garcia were joined by School Board member Rachel Norton, Principal Bill Kappenhagen, Chip Rich, Executive Director, Urban Services YMCA and Tacing Parker, Director of the Urban Services YMCA-run Truancy Assessment and Resource Center (TARC) to announce an innovative pilot program to reduce truancy at Burton High School located in the Silver Terrace neighborhood in San Francisco.

A student’s academic performance in the ninth grade is often an indicator of high school graduation. The pilot program assists incoming Burton High School ninth-graders who were habitually or chronically truant in their eighth grade year.

“We have an opportunity to get to students at the most critical time in their education.” said District Attorney George Gascón. “As a recent immigrant growing up in a poor neighborhood, I struggled in high school. I understand what these young people are feeling. I want our youth to know my office is committed to being a partner in helping them achieve their life’s goals”

The program, funded by criminal justice funds from the District Attorney’s Office, helps approximately twenty formerly truant students successfully transition in the ninth grade. 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. Since its launch in August, students in the Burton truancy pilot program are attending an average of 23% more school days than while enrolled in eighth grade the year prior. If this trend continues over the whole school year students will attend a total of 40 more days of school. \

“Across all of our high schools we are continuing to emphasize early interventions in the 9th grade, and are specifically targeting those students who have been identified as having one or both of the Early Warning risk indicators,” says Superintendent Carlos Garcia. “Community organizations, the DA’s office and our schools are working together to provide critical support for our most vulnerable youth.”

The partnership between the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to combat truancy that began four years ago has resulted in a 33% reduction in the number of chronically and habitually truant students since the partnership began.

Research shows that intervening during the transition between middle school and high school gives chronically truant students a chance at success.

Families in need of attendance -related assistance are encouraged to contact SFUSD by calling 415-695-5543.