Merced County cracks down on truancy

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Nearly 6000 students -- that's about how many Merced County school officials say are chronically absent.

Some cases are so bad, their parents were recently arrested after their kids missed hundreds of days of school.

"The sweeps that have been done with the arrests of these parents is truly a last resort in this process. This is after months if not multiple years in working with the

parents," said Anna Hazel, Merced County DA supervising investigator.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 18 days of school.

"Some of the students in the recent sweep, I believe, missed a year a school over a three-year period. Those are the situations where law enforcement is going to get

involved," said Nathan Quevado of the Merced County Office of Education.

The school district will usually send out truancy letters before a parent and their child are required to appear before a School attendance review board.

More recently, a Merced County Truancy officer was brought on to handle more serious cases.

Hazel with the District Attorney's office says they deal with the problem at an early age.

"Our approach at this program starts at the second grade. That's kind of been the focus. We want to make sure we're addressing those things at the lower level," she said.

In one case, a student missed more than 200 days over four school years.

She hasn't missed any days this past year, and truancy officer says that student is glad to be back with her classmates.
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