Truancy at ‘crisis’ level, says state attorney general

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Student in classroom

Photo: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — One out of every four California elementary school students — nearly 1 million total — are truant each year, an “attendance crisis” that is jeopardizing their academic futures and depriving schools of needed dollars, the state attorney general said in a report  released Monday.

In her first annual study of elementary student truancy, Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said school districts lost $1.4 billion in 2010-11 in state education dollars, which are distributed based on student attendance. Those losses amounted to $340 million in L.A. County, the report said, exacerbating the financial crisis in recent years that has resulted in deep cuts to school staff and programs.

“The California Constitution guarantees every child the right to an education, yet we are failing our youngest children, as early as kindergarten,” Harris said in a statement. “This crisis is not only crippling for our economy, it is a basic threat to public safety.”

Among counties, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Calaveras had the highest truancy rates — about 30 percent — last year. San Diego County’s rate was 19.2 percent, with about 52,520 truant elementary students.

Read more at latimes.com