Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Serra High School students marked truant when 5 seconds late, reports Sally Smith

Stories Neighborhood News
The Breakfast Club
By Dorian Hargrove
Aug. 8, 2010

...According to Smith, schools throughout the district are raising extra money by redefining the State of California's definition of truancy. Section 48260 of California's Education Code defines a truant as any student who misses more than 30 minutes of class without an excuse. But students and parents who Smith has interviewed tell her that teachers are marking students truant if they are five seconds late.

If the student has three or more "truancies" they are placed on the Loss of Privilege list and banned from attending school dances, graduation ceremonies, and supporting their school's sports teams. The only way for a student to get lopped off this list is by attending Saturday school.

"Some students have attended as many as five Saturday school sessions," says Smith. "Somehow these policies always seem to lead to money."

Smith says teachers and staff earn overtime for administering Saturday school and, schools, not the district, generate extra revenue from the state as part of the state's Saturday School Reimbursement Program, which covers costs incurred by schools to allow students to make up unexcused absences.

"This is happening throughout the district," says Smith, who has spent months collecting financial documents from San Diego Unified.

One Saturday School Reimbursement slip submitted to SDUSD's Budget Management and Cost Controls Department from Serra High School for Saturday School on October 31, 2009, totals $2,915.50. The following week, expenses for Saturday school were $1,999.20.

"Teenagers deserve the protection of the law. They deserve fair and equitable treatment. This tardy policy bears serious scrutiny."

Smith requested in May that the San Diego County Office of Education conduct an investigation. She is waiting for a response.

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