National Bar Association, 1225 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
First Lady Laura Bush Acknowledges Lorenzo Trujillo For Truancy Work
School absences a serious and growing problem; Truancy reaching thirty percent each
day in some communities and 70,000 each day in Colorado
Boulder, CO --- Truancy is a serious issue of major concern throughout the United
States and one program in Colorado has gained national attention and recognition
by First Lady Laura Bush.
"We have a serious and growing problem in the United States with our children not
attending school," said Lorenzo Trujillo, Assistant Dean of the University of Colorado
Law School and author of a recent study on truancy. "70,000 students were out of
school every day in Colorado alone in 2002 and more than two-thirds of all school
absences nationwide were non-illness-related with absence rates reaching 30 percent
each day in some communities. Truancy has monumental social ramifications and is
one of the first and best indicators of academic failure, suspension, expulsion,
delinquency and later adult crime."
The study was acknowledged by First Lady Laura Bush in a letter to Dean Trujillo,
stating: "President Bush and I are grateful to educators and leaders like you who
are taking positive steps to intervene before young people have strayed too far form
their connections to school and community. Over and over, the difference in the lives
of our youth is made by the personal intervention of someone who shows them-not tells
them, shows them- that they matter and that they have what it takes to succeed. The
President and I admire you for your good work." First Lady Laura Bush has devoted
substantial efforts to improving the potential future of at-risk youths has directed
national attention to truancy in the schools as one factor of at-risk youth.
Dean Trujillo spent five years implementing a truancy reduction project in Adams
County Public Schools that provided tremendous quantifiable results to help keep
kids in school. Project staff worked with Adams County courts and numerous intervention
agencies, such as social services, mental health agencies, in-school counselors,
day treatment programs, individual tutoring, Saturday classes, parenting classes,
and drug and alcohol treatment programs to keep kids in school.
A comprehensive research study about the project was published in the University
of California Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy this year: School Truancy: A Case
Study of a Successful Truancy Reduction Model in the Public Schools, Vol. 10, No.
1, pp. 69-95. The study presents details about the model, economic impact, and success
results. This past year, the University of Colorado Law School implemented a new
Juvenile Law Clinic that works with schools and the courts in matters of dependency
and neglect and truancy. As the CU Law School dedicates its new building on September
8th, 2006, the new Clinic, in collaboration with the Juvenile and Family Law Program,
will have a new center of operations from where to provide these essential services
to keep kids in school.