Ordinance targeting kids who skip school to be discussed by SLO County supervisors

A proposed local law that would make it more difficult for minors in San Luis Obispo County’s rural areas to skip school will be discussed Tuesday morning at the county Board of Supervisors meeting.

The hearing will go forward as scheduled, even though some parents and others have asked that it be rescheduled at a time when students can be present. The supervisors’ meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.

Under the proposed ordinance, Chief Probation Officer Jim Salio wrote in a staff report, law enforcement officers would be able to "temporarily detain" a minor they believe to be truant during school hours. The officer would be empowered "to return that minor to school or his or her parents or legal guardian."

School resource officers — who are the law enforcement officers assigned to monitor specific campuses — do not have that authority, Salio wrote. If and when they acquire it, they would be able to "act in the best interest of the minor and preserve public safety," he wrote.

There are exceptions to when an officer would be able to act, according to the proposed ordinance, such as if a minor has permission from a school to be off campus, for example, or was heading for a doctor's appointment.

Salio worked on the ordinance along with representatives of the San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services, the county Health Agency, District Attorney's Office, the county Office of Education, and the Lucia Mar, Paso Robles and Atascadero school districts, as well as other groups.

The proposal is part of a larger effort to reduce truancy and dropout rates.