LB instituting PACT program to discourage truancy

At Tuesday’s Long Beach City Council meeting, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert outlined his new Parent Accountability and Chronic Truancy (PACT) program, which is designed to increase school attendance and discourage truancy. The report came at the request of Fourth District Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell, a high-school teacher who sees truancy as a public safety and educational problem.
“Truancy leads kids to trouble and drains money from our schools,” O’Donnell said. “Our city prosecutor is to be applauded for designing a program that will work closely with law enforcement and the school district to ensure students and parents are held accountable for unexcused school absences.”
The PACT program is two-pronged. First, in accordance with a new state law (Penal Code 270.1), parents of “chronic truants,” students who miss more than 10 percent of all school days without a valid excuse, can be held responsible. The penalty for violation of this law is up to one year in county jail and a $2,000 fine. Second, parents can be criminally prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor if the parent, by his or her acts or omissions, causes or encourages the minor to break the law or disobey any lawful order of the juvenile court (Penal Code 272). The penalty for violation of this law is up to one year in county jail and a $2,500 fine.
According to a press release from O’Donnell’s office, truancy creates learning and discipline issues for the student, as well as a strain on municipal and education resources by requiring special officers and programs. Absenteeism also often leads to school dropout, and statistics show that dropouts are more likely to commit crimes and be unemployed than youth who stay in school.

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