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Revamped Truancy Program with Holistic Approach

SANTA BARBARA – Students who skip school at least three times can expect a call from the DA’s office. A truancy program nixed four years ago is back in force at public schools throughout Santa Barbara County.And private schools may jump on board, too.The Civil Grand Jury helped convince County Supervisors to restore $120,000 in funding for the five step program. A similar model ended after 11 years back in 2008 because of a lack of funding.A two person crew from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office makes up the team that will review monthly attendance records, and assess the core root for a student’s truancy. “Problems can vary from bullying, not engaged in school, teacher, problems at home, alcohol and drugs,” said Deputy District Attorney David Chin. He also cites health issues and learning disabilities as underlying reasons why some students cut class.Chin says among the worst case files he’s seen, students skipped as many as 100 days in a 180-day school year.The new approach to the truancy program relies on the support of dozens of local government and non-profit agencies, from the County Public Health Department to CADA (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse).For more on the five step program, and reaction, tune in for Beth Farnsworth’s full report on KEY News at 5:00 and 6:30.

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