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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #16-26
April 5, 2016
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Recognizes
Model Programs Reflecting New Methods
of Attendance Supervision

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that he will recognize nine school attendance programs for using positive, innovative approaches to keep students in school.

"You can have the best facilities, the best teachers, and the best curriculum in the world, but none of that matters if students are not in school," Torlakson said.

County and local School Attendance Review Boards (SARB) from throughout the state apply annually for the Model SARB Recognition Program, which awards SARBs that use superior strategies to promote attendance improvement and dropout prevention.

Members of the State SARB, a panel appointed by Torlakson to provide technical assistance to local and county SARBs, evaluated applications from throughout the state. The California Department of Education recognizes SARBs that demonstrate use of data-driven strategies in prevention, early identification, and intervention to reduce chronic absenteeism and use innovative, collaborative solutions for the most serious cases.

SARBs chosen as models were recognized for positive approaches to intervention, such as meeting protocols in which members listened objectively to referred students and families to assess barriers to attendance and used innovative, intensive solutions for the more serious cases. Models serve as mentors to other school districts, helping them develop their own strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism.

Chronic absenteeism rates, rather than truancy rates, are now the key measures of attendance improvement. Chronic absentees are students who miss 10 percent of the days enrolled for any reason. Students are truant if they miss more than 30 minutes of school without a valid excuse three times in one school year.

Recent studies have shown that chronic absenteeism as early as kindergarten can cause students to have major reading problems by the third grade. Studies of dropout rates also trace many students' academic struggles to poor attendance.

Torlakson said the Model SARB Recognition Program promotes collaborative efforts in the most essential component in academic achievement—keeping students in school so they have the opportunity to learn.

"Schools cannot succeed alone," he said. "This is not just about what schools can do, but what communities must do by working together on SARB teams.

In the past, SARBs focused mostly on reducing truancy rates, and the expression "getting SARBed," was commonly used when students were referred to a local SARB for attendance or behavior issues. In recent years, the focus has shifted to use more positive approaches to reduce chronic absenteeism and suspension rates, which have been disproportionately high among at-risk youth, including foster youth and students of color.

Torlakson praised the Model SARBs for analyzing which students need the most help and in reducing the number of students who are chronically absent or truant. Torlakson said a more data-driven approach to chronic absenteeism by model SARBs provides examples for other districts in how they can reduce their chronic absenteeism rates.

Chronic absenteeism and truancy costs school districts millions of dollars each year in lost income, and disproportionately increases the likelihood that certain groups of students will drop out. Children in poverty, African Americans, foster youth, and other student groups are especially vulnerable to barriers in their school attendance.

Reducing chronic absenteeism has been a major focus in the Torlakson administration, as chronic absenteeism rates are a key indicator of a student's risk in the new Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and will be collected next year in the state's longitudinal data collection system called the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).

This year's model SARB awards will be presented on April 21, 2016, in Garden Grove.

A list of the nine SARBs and their chairpersons, who can act as mentors for other SARBs in the state, is attached below.

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.

2015–16 Model School Attendance Review Board Programs


  • Covina-Valley Unified School District and Charter Oaks Unified School District (SARB 28), Jessica Houpt and Joe Mitchell, SARB Chairpersons, 626-974-7000,
  • Kern High School District, Bryan Campoy, SARB Chairperson, 661-827-3177,
  • Lawndale Elementary School District, Jorge L. Arroyo, SARB Chairperson, 310-973-1300,
  • Montebello Unified School District, Jose Franco, SARB Chairperson, 323-887-7900, extension 2418,
  • Redondo Beach Unified School District, El Segundo Unified School District, Hermosa Beach City School District, and Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Susannah Hall, SARB Chairperson, 310-937-1236,
  • San Bernardino City Unified School District, Susann Hazen, SARB Chairperson, 909-381-1100;
  • Santa Paula Unified School District, Robin Gillette and Juan Garcia, SARB Chairpersons, 805-525-4407, extension 9807,
  • Sutter County Office of Education, Grace Espindola, SARB Chairperson, 530-822-2969,
  • Val Verde Unified School District, Dr. Gary Roughton, SARB Chairperson, 951-940-6100, extension 10468,

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 20, 2020
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