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Schools Are Responsible for Truancy

November 16, 1989

While parents and community forces have made important contributions to the truancy problem (Times, Nov. 2), it's the schools that--aside from the minor issue of providing an oft unrewarding general education experience--bear the major responsibility for today's truancy problems.

My own direct experience covers a variety of school districts. I learned that schools gave scant attention to attendance other than at the class period when attendance was counted for ADA funds, and that attention might not last through the entire period.

Freedom to leave campus during "free" periods did not help. Time after time at conferences about individual students, schools would propose a checkoff plan where for, say two weeks, each student would sign a daily attendance form for the parents, only to have the school quit in the first two or three days.

Counselors' attitudes went from mostly disinterest to keeping photos of favored students on their desks. Most conferences were power plays and turf battles.

Truancy is now endemic to the school experience and difficult to stop--and expensive, needing special programs and centers, etc.

PAUL LOGAN, Los Angeles

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