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Thursday, August 30, 2012

District Attorney Says More Kids Are Going to Class

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 2:51 PM

click to enlarge MAESTRA LATINA VIA FLICKR
  • Maestra Latina via Flickr
The District Attorney's Office might let teachers accused of abusing students off easy, but prosecutors aren't quite as forgiving with students who are chronically skipping school.

District Attorney George Gascón has been working with the YMCA and SFUSD to keep make sure your kids actually goes to school after the bus picks them up. And that work is showing results.

According to the DA, the number of truant students has fallen by 12 percent over the last year, with fewer students skipping out on class. Since Gascón partnered with the school district to combat truancy in 2007, the number has decreased by 38 percent, Gascón announced today at Burton High School. The DA also said that he will fund the Burton High School Truancy Program this year.

The pilot program to curb truancy began last year, and has helped at least 20 formerly truant students transition from middle school to high school. Students receive individual counseling and support from staff at the YMCA-run Truancy Assessment and Resource Center. Here's the part where Gascón throws numbers at you:

"Over 70 percent of the kids that we see in this program have an 85 percent or better attendance rate," Gascón said.

Victor Sosa, a 16-year-old sophomore at Burton High School and TARCp articipant, expressed his gratitude for the program. After learning about the nasty repercussions of dropping out (prison, homelessness, and no money), Sosa changed his attitude about going to school. "It's a safe place to be," he said.

Sosa intends to graduate in 2014 and pursue a college degree.

Much to our surprise, this truancy battle is a personal one for our district attorney. "I was a chronic truant myself," Gascón said. "I know ... without intervention, today's truants are tomorrow's dropouts."

His personal battle turned into a professional one as he emphasized the real connection between high school dropouts and crime.

"In San Francisco, a staggering 94 percent of young murder victims were high school dropouts," the DA said in a written statement.

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Suzanne Stathatos

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