Standing together before an audience of nearly 100 representatives of state and local agencies, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Secretary of Health and Human Services Diane Dooley on Tuesday discussed the need to work collaboratively to reduce chronic absence across California. “One of my top priorities is to address chronic absenteeism,” said Torlakson who seeks to build bridges to others in state leadership positions such as Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Torlakson emphasized the need to get beyond truancy and look at all the causes of chronic absence. The California Department of Education has produced a Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) handbook to help local attendance boards address absenteeism and included chronic absence as a criteria for its annual model SARB awards. “We can have our best teachers in place, but if our students are not there, it doesn’t make a difference,” he said.