Legislators are trying to get their arms around truancy in the state. Discussion about the most promising bill, the bipartisan HB 437, illustrates just how complicated the problem is.
We have 54,000 kids who are habitually truant, which means they have 10 or more unexcused absences in a school year. That should take your breath away.
Studies and common sense tell us that these kids are most likely to drop out.
Four lawmakers whose political coloration ranges from conservative to liberal have teamed up to carry the bill: Reps. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque; Jimmie Hall, R-Albuquerque, James Townsend, R-Artesia, and Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales. On Saturday, the most conservative, Townsend, and most liberal, Ruilobo, sat together to sell their bill to the House Education Committee.
HB 437 calls for earlier and more intensive interventions. It requires schools to have a family resources program, work with agencies and community organizations, and notify parents. It would suspend drivers licenses.
Legislators used as models successful programs in Carlsbad and Albuquerque’s Atrisco Heritage High School.