New Program Nets Record Haul of Truants

Record numbers of Oxnard students who ditched class during the last school year got caught, thanks to a new truancy program being touted as a model for cities in Ventura County.

Developed by Oxnard Police Officer Dave Walker, the federally funded Student Truancy Offender Program--or STOP--involves law enforcement, school officials, social service workers and parents.

Implemented last August, the program issued 2,747 truancy citations in the 2000-01 school year, up from just 434 in 1999-00.

Buoyed by a revision in state law allowing truant arrests to be made inside homes, officers began knocking on doors.

About 93% of students who were ditching classes were found at home, usually watching television. Officers even broke up a handful of parties, at least one of them with more than 100 kids, police said.

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