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Team’s approach to truancy is really making a difference

That’s what District Attorney’s Investigative Assistant Gary McFarland, and Cynthia Roper, a social worker III with the Plumas County Department of Social Services, are seeking to discover and remedy. The two have formed the Truancy Prevention Team in an effort to keep children of all ages in school. And the data indicates it’s working.

The ramifications of habitual truancy are dire. According to District Attorney David Hollister, truancy increases the likelihood that youth will engage in drug and alcohol use, fighting, theft and more serious forms of delinquency. “Over the long term, adults who were chronically truant as adolescents are more likely to have poorer health outcomes, lower paying jobs, and a greater chance of being incarcerated during their lifetime,” Hollister said. He said sometimes the root cause of truancy is lack of parental support.

And that’s where the team can help with its proactive, not reactive program. There are a myriad reasons why a student misses school. And that’s where McFarland, representing law enforcement, and Roper, with connections to various services, make a formidable pair. They assess the situation and find remedies, and they vary who takes the lead depending on the situation.

“The results this year have been overwhelming as families have been provided services and students are going back to school,” McFarland said. The statistics back him up. Historically, Greenville and Portola schools have had the highest truancy rates. For example, in 2017, Portola Junior-Senior High School showed a 25.2 percent chronic absenteeism rate. In 2018 that was nearly cut in half to 12.2 percent. At C. Roy Carmichael Elementary School the rate was 31 percent in 2017 and fell to 11.9 percent the following year. According to McFarland, it’s taken a concerted effort by the school principals and the Truancy Prevention Team.

We applaud the work that they’re doing — it’s far better to invest the time and effort in our students now — than later when their lives have been adversely impacted.

The process worked with FRC decision

The Feather River College Board of Trustees’ decision last December to grant the college president lifetime benefits ignited intense reactions from college employees and community members. The ensuing outcry — about the decision and the process — resulted in the trustees and the president agreeing to make the decision null and void. No matter whether one thinks the benefits should or shouldn’t be granted based on a variety of arguments from both sides, all involved expressed their sentiments, which resulted in action being taken.

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