The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, January 21, 1970 edition of “The Ojai Valley News”. It is reprinted here with their permission. The photo has been added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.
How Nordhoff deals with truancy problem
Truancy is a problem that exists on all school campuses. The Nordhoff High School attendance office reports that the problem is no greater here than at other schools in the county. According to the Education Code passed by the State Legislature “a child is deemed an habitual truant when he has been reported absent or tardy without a valid excuse for three or more times.”
Mr. Paul LaBute has recently been named Attendance Officer to combat the truancy problem on the Nordhoff campus. Specific procedures are followed each day in attendance procedures. Each day attendance is taken in homeroom. Those absent are listed for the day on a Master Absence List. Then each teacher takes roll in each class. Any student absent from class and not on the Master Absence List is reported to the Attendance office.
Step 1 — If it is determined the student is cutting class, a Student Referral Form is made out by the attendance clerks.
Step 2 — If a student receives three of these referral forms (that is, he was caught cutting classes three times) a School Conduct Report is sent by the attendance office to the parents.
Step 3 — If the truancy problem still exists, the student is suspended for five days. He must report to the continuation school to keep up with his class work.
Step 4 — Should a student still be truant, a Notice for Child to Discontinue Violating School Law is sent to the parents from the County of Ventura Superintendent of Schools office. This is sent by Mr. F. J. Holyoak, Child Welfare and Attendance Coordinator and it says:
“This letter is sent to notify you that this office has received a complaint that (your child) is violating the school laws of the State of California by being truant.
In accordance with the Education Code, Section 12408, the County Superintendent of Schools may request a Juvenile Court Petition in behalf of any child who is habitually truant, irregular in attendance, habitually insubordinate or disorderly during attendance at school.
The Juvenile Court, after hearing such a petition, may render judgement that the Juvenile be detained or his parents required to deliver him to the school each day or execute a $200.00 bond which is forfeit if there is further nonattendance or misconduct.
You are hereby directed to do whatever you can to prevent further noncompliance with school law. After 10 days, if matters have not improved or if there are further violations a request for a juvenile court petition will be made.”
Step 5 — The final step is a 10-day suspension, after which the student would be referred to the Placement Committee of the District. The Placement Committee may refer the student to the School Board which could result in expulsion, or the Placement Committee could place the child in a continuation high school or in an adult evening program. After hard work, the student can still graduate and then go into the service, on to college or trade schools or begin a job.
The counseling office reports that a student’s attendance record is a very important factor in job placement. Employers usually ask two questions, “Is this person reliable? Was his school attendance regular.” If the student has been truant the counseling office must report that fact. Work habits are established in school, the counselors concluded, but often the truant student cannot easily be convinced of the seriousness of establishing a truancy record.