A school turns to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to curb habitual skipping of classes by students.
The Orange County Register reported that the Anaheim Union High School District in California has rolled out a six-week program under which seventh and eighth graders with four absences without valid reasons will be asked to carry a GPS device.
The turn to technology to clamp on truancy requires that students feed a code which tracks their whereabouts, five times a day. Every morning they receive an automated alert reminding them to attend school. Students and parents volunteer for the program.
However, tracking students using GPS is not cheap, as it will set the school back by $18,000, as each device costs $300-$400 each.
When asked by the Register as to why students are asked to carry the device rather than just attaching it to students, Miller Sylvan, regional director of the firm helping with GPS program said: We don't want to criminalize the kids or have them wear any bracelet or something around their ankle that would stigmatize them.
The program requires that students enter a code into the device, which Sylvan said teaches students the virtue of discipline. When asked as to what happens if the device fails to curb truant behavior of the student, Sylvan stated: We will communicate with the attendance offices at the schools, who will follow protocols. Sometimes that means sending out a police officer to check on the student and make sure they get to class.
However, in places where the technology has been adopted, like San Antonio and Baltimore, the average attendance among truants increased from 77 percent up to 95 percent during the six-week program.
The Ball Junior High School Attendance Policy states that the State of California lists six valid reasons for students to miss classes under the Education Code Title V, Section 420. The reasons include illness, quarantine by health officer, medical, dental or optometric appointments, attending funeral services of an immediate family member, religious holiday and school field trip or activity. However, these reasons need to be verified by parents.
In case of truancy, when a student has reached 6 and 12 days of unexcused or unverified absence, the District Office came into the picture issuing letters. In the next stage, they will be referred to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB), a legally constituted panel of police and probation officers, parents, community members, county agencies and school representatives that will decide whether parents and students are in violation of school attendance laws.