School district reaches out to truant students, ascertains families’ needs

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Photo Courtesy/SBCUSD On Thursday, Jan. 26 San Bernardino Unified School District personnel visited the last known addresses of students K-12 who have not been attending school regularly. 189 homes were visited and as a result of Operation Student Recovery, 130 students returned to school the next day. Pictured from left: Bilingual Attendance Assistant Adrian Islas, SBCUSD Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden and San Bernardino City Mayor Carey Davis.
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Students sometimes get sidetracked from their path to graduation for a gamut of reasons that keep them from attending classes regularly. The San Bernardino City Unified School District personnel do not simply allow these students to fall through the cracks. Through Operation Student Recovery district managers and community leaders that include SBCUSD Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden and San Bernardino City Mayor Carey Davis joined a team of 34 volunteers to visit 189 last known addresses of truant students on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Maria Garcia, SBCUSD Communications Officer, was happy to report that on the following school day 130 students returned to classes.

“There are a host of reasons that keep students from regular attendance,” Garcia explained. “They include teen pregnancy to a student suffering from scoliosis who was in too much pain to carry her backpack and didn’t have transportation, and others who become discouraged because they fell behind in their credits.”

District personnel discuss with parents, caregivers and students the obstacles they face, and realize the issues that are hindering regular attendance. When those are identified staff are more able to refer families to local supporting agencies or direct assistance through the district.

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“The goal isn’t to catch students and to reprimand them for not going to school,” Garcia said. “We try to provide a host of resources such as food, clothing, mental health, or drug counseling to the parent and child when deemed necessary.”

In addition to listening to the needs of each family, district personnel discuss the benefits of a good education and acquiring a high school diploma. For those students who are behind in credits, there is a program where they can earn credits from home.

“They may not graduate at their home school, but they most certainly have the opportunity to graduate,” Garcia said.

Operation Student Recovery was established six years ago by former SBCUSD Superintendent Arturo Delgado. Under Dr. Marsden’s direction the outreach program today involves community partners such as Loma Linda University, city of San Bernardino, and faith-based organizations.

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