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Lawmakers Seek to Address California's 'Truancy Crisis'

Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris
 

Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris

Skipping school can mean a lot more for students than just failing a test. California Attorney General Kamala Harris says it can cause kids to fall behind and ultimately drop out of high school.

Harris joined state lawmakers in introducing a package of legislation designed to curb truancy among elementary school students. She says showing up in class is critical to a student’s future success.

“If a child, at the end of third grade, is not at reading level, they are four times more likely than other students to be a high school dropout," Harris says.

Harris’ office estimates one million elementary students are truant each year, with a quarter of those missing at least 18 days of school. Truant students cost school districts more than $1 billion a year in lost state funds.

Among other things, the bills would help districts comply with truancy tracking requirements and work with parents to address causes of truancy.

 AP783106299533-Truance

Attorney General Kamala Harris shakes hands with Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, one of the lawmakers who is carrying a bill that Harris is backing to help reduce truancy in state schools following a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, March 10, 2014. The bills would write into law recommendations from a report done by Harris' office that would require school districts and the state to do a better job of tracking students who miss class. Harris said the legislation would help officials find ways to get truant students back in school. Also seen are Sen. William Monning, D-Carmel, left, and Assembly members Isadore Hall, D-Compton, second from left, Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, third from left, and Raul Bocanegra, D-Los Angeles, third from left, who are all carrying other pieces of the bill package. Rich Pedroncelli / AP

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