Supervisors to consider proposed truancy law

A proposed local law that would make it more difficult for minors in the county’s rural areas to skip school will be discussed today by the county Board of Supervisors.

Under the proposed ordinance, 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.”

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, or was heading for a doctor’s appointment.

The proposal is part of a larger effort to reduce truancy and drop-out rates. In the 2009-10 academic year, the county drop-out rate was 9.1 percent, compared with the state average of 13.3 percent.

“One of the major predictors of dropouts is truancy,” according to Julian Crocker, the county’s superintendent of schools.

Chief Probation Officer Jim Salio worked on the ordinance along with representatives of the 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 others.

— Bob Cuddy