Kamala Harris has made a clear connection between the city’s dropout and murder rates: truancy. According to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, ninety-four percent of the city’s murder victims under the age of 25 are dropouts.
Harris is launching a new, high school-specific portion of the San Francisco Truancy Reduction Initiative. The initiative has been successful with elementary and middle school students but hasn’t reached high school students, who appear to be falling through the cracks with high dropout rates.
D. A. Harris is quoted in the San Francisco Gate as saying,
“With the elementary and middle-school students, we targeted our efforts on their parents,” Harris said. “But the obvious point is that the older the child, the more that child’s free will enters into the equation. So we’re going to have to do mediations with the students themselves about why they’re not getting to school.”
Harris’ office, with the help of the school district, has identified 300 chronically truant students who will be asked to attend a truancy court. The students will be given two options:
- They can either plead guilty to an infraction of the education code and accept punishment (a fine and the suspension of their drivers’ licenses); or
- They can defer punishment with the understanding that the punishment will be dropped after they complete truancy classes and do community service.
Students who refuse to show up will face contempt of court charges and jail time.