Truant Sonoma County elementary students cost schools $14 million

Truant elementary students cost North Coast school districts more than $20 million, according to a state attorney general report that said 1 million statewide elementary students missed class last school year.

Nearly a quarter of Lake County elementary students skipped school last year, the report found, costing districts $416 per pupil — one of the highest rates in the state.

Sonoma County's truancy rate is 12 percent — one of the lowest in the state. But the 5,000 truant students cost county schools $14 million last year, according to the report released Monday.

"We need to confront the behavior early on," said Sonoma County schools superintendent Steven Herrington. "If we don't confront the behavior early, then we will have a bigger problem later."

With a 14 percent truancy rate, Mendocino county schools lost $4 million in state education funds, which are distributed based on attendance.

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