California honors six school attendance review boards, with four from OC

Buena Park School District

School attendance review boards from four Orange County school districts, including Buena Park, have been designated as model programs by the state for practices that have helped reduce chronic absenteeism rates and improve student attendance.

It’s possible you haven’t heard of school attendance review boards, or SARBs, but they serve as critical safety nets for students with persistent attendance or behavioral problems.

SARBs operate at the local and county levels with the goal of keeping students in school so they can receive a meaningful educational experience. These boards often include representatives from local youth-serving agencies who connect chronically truant students and their families with school and community resources.

To honor their work, and to spread best practices, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently designated six California school attendance review boards as model programs — and four of them are from Orange County school districts.

California Department of Education (CDE) logo

The Capistrano Unified, Irvine Unified, Buena Park and Ocean View school districts — and their SARB chairpersons — were all recognized last week by the State SARB for “exemplary practices that have contributed to reducing chronic absenteeism rates and improving student attendance.”

The other districts to receive the accolade were the Sunnyvale School District in Santa Clara County and the Yuba City Unified School District in Sutter County.

“These six school districts have overcome incredible challenges to student attendance created by the ongoing global pandemic by employing great attendance strategies,” Thurmond said. “I commend these schools for utilizing creative strategies that have been highly successful in getting more students back to learning and on the path to success.”

Thurmond said a key to these schools’ plans has been a multi-tiered approach that includes early intervention, professional development, strategic staffing, family engagement and school connectedness.

The state superintendent convenes the State SARB, which brings together key agencies and community partners to score applications for the program. Officials noted that attendance interventions were modified to address students in independent study and those who were in quarantine.

The Model SARB awards will be presented at the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance State Conference, which will take place May 11–13, 2022, in Olympic Valley.

Here’s the full list of recognized school districts and the Model SARB chairperson for each:

  • Buena Park School District, Orange County, Elsie Briseño Simonovski
  • Capistrano Unified School District, Orange County, Mike Beekman
  • Irvine Unified School District, Orange County, Michelle Walsh
  • Ocean View School District, Orange County, Barb Davis
  • Sunnyvale School District, Santa Clara County, Tasha L. Dean
  • Yuba City Unified School District, Sutter County, Jennifer Cates