SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The school year begins Monday for San Francisco public schools. And school officials are working on efforts to further combat truancy and absenteeism.

To that end, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said he is committed to a program started by his predecessor.

The Chronic Truancy Reduction Initiative began four years ago as a program that reached out to parents of the chronically absent and prosecuted them if they contributed to their children’s delinquency.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

Gascon said it’s an important program because today’s truants are tomorrow’s dropouts.

“For me, I understand the power of staying in school because I was actually a dropout myself,” said Gascon.

Gascon said he became frustrated as an English as a Second Language speaker at Bell High School. His parents worked long hours and were unaware of him skipping classes. He later earned his GED and a law degree.

San Francisco Superintendent of Public Instruction Carlos Garcia said they have developed a new initiative to keep parents better informed.

“If your child is missing school, there is a notification that goes out immediately,” said Garcia. “We don’t wait anymore.”

The notification will include an automated phone call as well as a letter. This past year, there was a 16 percent reduction in the number of chronically absent students compared to the previous year.

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