SAN FRANCISCO—District Attorney George Gascón and Superintendent Richard Carranza announced on Tuesday, August 28, the commencement of an anti-truancy program at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School.

The District Attorney’s office allocated $130,000 for truancy intervention programs at Phillip & Sala Burton High School and Ida B. Wells. This decision marks the continuation for programs in Burton and the arrival of similar programs to Wells. The allotment will provide crucial funds to Truancy Assessment and Resource Center (TARC) services at Wells High School.

“When it comes to the issue of school attendance, we can’t afford not to intervene because today’s truant is tomorrow’s dropout,” said Gascón in a statement. “By helping high risk students, we hope to break the cycle of poverty and crime that often plagues high school dropouts, and ultimately affects all San Franciscans.”

According to the DA’s office, the funding will bestow a case manager from TARC with the resources necessary to support 25 students and work with Wells staff to address the issue at hand.

Ida B. Wells Continuation High School is an alternative school that works with chronically truant students to complete the necessary requirements for high school graduation. Average daily attendance at Wells is about 65 percent, according to the school’s principal.

“Our job at Ida B. Wells is to help students move from truancy and low credits to regular attendance and graduation. Some students have had so many obstacles placed between them and school that they need support to re-engage,” said Wells Principal Richard Duber in a statement. “The resources that Wells is receiving from District Attorney Gascon’s office will help us reach out and support non-attending students and their families. Ida B. Wells has the resources to help students succeed. The real issue is getting them in the door in the first place.”

The Burton High Truancy Prevention Program began nearly two years ago, and the program’s success is already measured by improving grades and attendance reports. The program also produced a greater level of connectivity between students and their collective school community, according to the DA’s office.

In 2007, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco Unified School District began a partnership that sought to ignite anti-truancy initiatives, and according to Gascón, the district has seen a 31 percent reduction in truancy since the partnership’s inception.

By Alex Mazariegos