Tuolumne County Superintendent of School building

A division of the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office dedicated to promoting school attendance was honored this week by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond as a model program during the pandemic.

The School Attendance Review Board (SARB) for the county office, led by Program Director Rob Egger, was the only county schools office recognized this year. It was among 20 total SARBs honored, with the rest being from individual school districts.

“Many of the supports and services provided by the SARB program have been invaluable to families during these trying times,” Egger said in a news release from the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office. "Our goal is to remove barriers and provide access to education for students who are struggling with school attendance issues.”

According to the state education website, SARBs are composed of representatives from youth agencies involved at the district or county level. Due to California compulsory education laws which mandate attendance in school, the SARBs assist in solving truancy issues with students or parents though available school or community resources.

According to a news release from Thurmond's office, the model programs were distinguished this year by their attendance strategies during distance learning and the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the 2020-21 school year was disrupted by the pandemic, forcing students into digital learning platforms and, later, hybrid models of both in-person and distance education. 

“These 19 school districts and one county office of education created exemplary plans and worked hard to follow through on them to help students stay engaged in their education — all during the unprecedented closure of our schools due to a global pandemic,” said Thurmond. “Many of these same great attendance strategies will also be crucial for student success as even more schools reopen for safe in-person attendance in the near future.”

The criteria for the awards included shifting staff roles to meet student needs in distance learning, supporting the unique needs of students in distance learning, providing for mental health services and outreach to families. 

The model programs were selected after Thurmond convened the state school attendance review board, which involves specific agencies and community partners evaluating applications submitted by the districts or county offices.

The details of the 19 districts and the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office attendance strategies were expected to be shared at a state SARB meeting on Thursday and at the annual state conference of the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance on April 27.

The Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office thanked a far-reaching community list of agencies and organizations for their role in the SARB program. They included the Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA), Center for Non-Violent Community (CNVC), Infant/Child Enrichment Services (ICES), Tuolumne County Resiliency Coalition, Me-Wuk Tribal Domestic Violence, Me-Wuk Indian Health Center Tribal Social Worker, Tuolumne County Department of Social Services, Tuolumne County California Highway Patrol, Tuolumne County Social Services, Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office, Tuolumne County Behavioral Health, Tuolumne County Juvenile Probation, Tuolumne County Public Health, and Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office.

County schools office representatives included county schools mental health clinicians, the alternative education and Gold Ridge Education Center coordinator, the foster and homeless youth liaison, the TCSOS nurse, and the director of special education.

“Our office is honored to be one of twenty SARB programs across the state recognized for this award,” said a statement from Superintendent of Schools Cathy Parker. “Our SARB team is made of dedicated people who truly make a difference in the lives of students.” 

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at gricapito@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 588-4526.

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