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IRVINE : Almost No Truancy Reported in District

When the school district’s 21,600 students return to school in September, teachers expect to see each and every one of them in class.

Most Irvine Unified School District teachers will not be disappointed.

District officials reported this week that unexcused absences averaged less than 1% last school year. The 0.71% rate of unexcused absences works out to an average of five absences per day for each of the district’s 28 schools in grades kindergarten through high school.

“We don’t have the problems that some districts have,” said Jerry Rayl, assistant to the superintendent. “These kids go to school.”

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After subtracting excused absences, Irvine public schools reported a 96.4% average attendance rate for the 1993-94 school year. Unexcused absences during the 1992-93 school year were also under 1% in Irvine.

“It’s been fairly constant in that range for a number of years,” Rayl said.

The Orange County Department of Education no longer compiles yearly attendance rates, but individual school districts are required by law to make attendance rates public.

The Capistrano Unified School District, which had 30,110 students enrolled last school year, also reported less than 1% in unexcused absences. In the Santa Ana Unified School District, unexcused absences averaged 2.5% of the district’s 48,897 students enrolled during the 1993-94 school year.

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In Irvine, Meadow Park Elementary School reported the highest attendance rate for the last school year: 99.99% of Meadow Park students either attended class or had an excused absence such as illness or a doctor’s appointment.

School board President Michael B. Regele said Irvine’s high attendance rates are a reflection of the community. “Part of the reason people move to Irvine is because they value education,” Regele said.

Higher attendance rates also bring increased revenue, as state funding levels for most public school districts are based on average daily attendance levels.

One consequence of the Irvine school district’s success is the growing number of families who live outside the city but register their children in the school district. School district officials say parents who use the address of friends who live in the city are hard to detect--despite the occasional phone call from school to a student’s home.

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“Their friends are pretty good at covering for them,” said Rayl, adding that he understands the motivations behind the subterfuge. “They’re just trying to succeed.”


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