March 19, 2013
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2012-13
Model Attendance, Dropout Prevention Programs
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 11 programs have been designated as models of attendance improvement and dropout prevention by the State School Attendance Review Board (State SARB).
Torlakson congratulated the 2012-13 Model SARBs for their work in reducing the number of students who are chronically absent, which results in costing school districts millions of dollars each year in lost income and greatly increases the likelihood a student will drop out of school. Reducing absenteeism is a major focus for Torlakson as new research points to chronic absence as a key indicator of a student's academic future.
"The old saw is true: a big part of success is showing up. To learn in school, children need to be in school and to stay in school," said Torlakson. "Poor attendance leads to poor work, poor grades—and eventually poor career prospects. Regular attendance is essential for success in school and in life. I congratulate these districts for helping families and students meet this basic but crucial goal."
The 11 districts and their SARB chairpersons are attached below. The SARBs in Alameda Unified and Santa Paula Union school districts are being recognized for the first time. Nine of the SARBs have been Model SARBs in previous years and are designated as Distinguished Model SARBs.
Torlakson applauded the sustained efforts of the Distinguished Model SARBs for their ability to repeat their past success.
"These remarkably effective SARBs have long shared their insights and perspectives with other districts focusing on attendance improvement and dropout reduction," he said. "I congratulate them on their continuing accomplishments."
Torlakson administers and coordinates the State SARB with representatives of school districts, parent groups, county superintendents of schools, law enforcement agencies, the health care profession, and child welfare and attendance personnel.
In May 2011, Torlakson convened a Chronic Absence Policy Forum to address the problem, and plans to convene a future forum focused on achieving attendance improvement and dropout reduction through community‒school collaboration.
Recent studies have shown that chronic absenteeism that starts in kindergarten can cause students to have major reading problems by the third grade. Studies of the dropout rate also trace many of students' academic struggles to early attendance problems.
The State SARB has placed a major focus on monitoring chronic absentees and positive early interventions that keep students in the classroom, and is especially interested in seeing local SARBs promote collaboration within their communities by partnering with local agencies to strengthen attendance.
While local SARBS often have been associated with punitive approaches to the attendance problem, those that stressed collaboration and positive intervention were considered most worthy of recognition by State SARB members who reviewed applications for 2012-13 Model SARB recognition.
For instance, SARB 16 in Los Angeles County, which is composed of four school districts serving the communities of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and El Segundo, is a prime example of a program with exceptional collaboration with outside agencies. It has teamed up with the District Attorney, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Probation, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, four law enforcement agencies, school nurses, school counselors, and community youth.
Local SARBs are created in school districts to provide a safety net for students with attendance problems. Students who are chronically absent are referred to a local SARB after other interventions at their schools have been unsuccessful. The local SARBs are tasked with a group effort of identifying the problem and finding solutions that keep students in the classroom.
Districts recognized for their model attendance improvement and dropout reduction program are expected to serve as mentors for other review boards seeking to achieve model status. This year's Model SARB awards will be presented on April 19 at the State Capitol in Sacramento.
For more information on the SARB process for attendance improvement and dropout reduction, visit the California Department of Education School Attendance Review Boards Web page.
2012-13 Model SARB and Distinguished Model SARB Programs
- Alameda Unified School District, Kristen Zazo, SARB Chairperson, 510-337-7072; Kirsten Vital, Superintendent/Designee (Model SARB).
- Alhambra Unified School District, Lindsey K. Ma, SARB Chairperson, 626-943-3400; Dr. Laura Tellez-Gagliano , Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- Bellflower Unified and Paramount Unified school districts, Terry Gendreau and James Monico, SARB Chairpersons, 562-866-9011 and 562-602-6000; Joseph A. Perry, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- Chula Vista Elementary School District, (Cheryl) Lisa Butler, SARB Chairperson, 619-425-9600, extension 1571; Oscar Esquivel, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- Colton Joint Unified School District, Melissa Kingston, SARB Chairperson, 909-580-6525; Todd Beal, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- El Segundo Unified School District, Hermosa Beach City School District, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Redondo Beach Unified School District (SARB 16), Kenneth Flood, SARB Chairperson, 310-937-1236; Dr. Steven Keller, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- Grossmont Union High School District, Jennifer Mendel, SARB Chairperson, 619-644-8012; Ralf Swenson, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- Montebello Unified School District, Jose G. Franco, SARB Chairperson, 323-887-7900, ext. 7924; Michael Cobarrubias, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- San Bernardino Unified School District, Susann Hazen, SARB Chairperson, 909-880-6614; Ray Culberson, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- Santa Ana Unified School District, Sonia Rodarte, SARB Chairperson, 714-433-2484; Doreen Lohnes, Superintendent/Designee (Distinguished Model SARB).
- Santa Paula Union High School District, Robin Gillette and Juan Garcia, SARB Chairpersons, 805-525-4407, extension 3002; Robin Gillette, Superintendent Designee (Model SARB).
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100