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Local Educator Honored For Improving Student Attendance

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Sonora, CA – The state’s top educator recognized the 2024 recipients of the Model School Attendance Review Board (SARBs), and one is from Tuolumne County.

Rob Egger from the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office, who has over three decades of experience in Tuolumne County as a teacher, lecturer, and administrator, was one of 23 across the state to get the award. All were praised by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond for voluntarily committing to serve as expert role models and support providers for other SARBs in school districts and counties seeking technical assistance throughout the state. This year, 23 school attendance review boards (SARBs) have been designated as model programs by the State SARB for exemplary practices that contribute to reducing chronic absenteeism rates and improving student attendance.

“Being recognized as a Model SARB signifies more than just excellence, according to Thurmond. “Their support includes sharing resources, offering peer-to-peer coaching, and hosting visits to discuss their successful strategies in person.”

Award winners have utilized webinars to share best practices and identify multi-tiered attendance improvement programs. These programs aim to replace discipline practices like expulsions or suspensions with prevention efforts and positive alternative means of correction, thereby enhancing school attendance and promoting a more inclusive learning environment. Below are some key practices provided by state officials:

Early Intervention: The exemplary practices implemented by this year’s recipients share similarities. Among them are the frequent and consistent practices of School Attendance Review Teams, whose members recognize their role as “the catalyst in supporting and improving student attendance and behavior.” A focus on early interventions is key to de-escalating trends toward chronic absenteeism, truancy, and suspension.

Professional Development and Added Staff: Recipients have taken the vital step of utilizing increased school funds to invest in new and existing staff. Improved professional development focuses on enhancing cultural competencies, elevating social and emotional learning, recognizing and addressing mental health needs, and engaging practices for students in remote learning. The addition of counselors and social workers allows for a rapid and positive response aimed at mitigating the needs of disengaged students.

Family Engagement and School Connectedness: To best meet the needs of students and families, some recipients have adjusted the processes for attendance improvement as a way to provide students and families with individual and needed support to ensure they are successful, feel valued, and are connected to their school community. A key part of the SARB process involves asking about, respecting, and understanding students and their families within their lived experiences. Communications and interventions at the school and district levels provide education to families via newsletters and attendance presentations to inform and empower parents and guardians. Community resources and partnerships help further mitigate the many barriers to attendance faced by students and families.

State Superintendent Thurmond brings together the State SARB, a coalition of agencies, organizations, and community partners, to coordinate policy and personnel training to divert students with attendance and behavior issues from juvenile justice and decrease dropout rates in the state public education system.

This year’s awards were presented at the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance State Conference in Monterey.