"The law is not the thing that makes the difference," said Ray Culberson, director of youth services at San Bernardino Unified School District.
San Bernardino Unified complements patrols with visits to truants' homes, Culberson
The district's 33.2 percent dropout rate is nearly double the statewide number.
But the gap
between the 42.9 percent rate at San Bernardino High School
, which is in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Inland region, and the 16.3 percent rate at Cajon High School
, in a middle-class area, illustrates the effect poverty, educational attainment of parents and other factors have.
San Bernardino is the nation's second poorest big city, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates
From August to January, more than 1,000 truant students in San Bernardino Unified were brought before special boards and panels that seek to combat truancy, and 256 parents were given citations, Culberson
Other Inland districts also have special panels, many of which include counselors to find out the root of a truancy problem and, in repeat cases, police and district attorney's office representatives.
The carrot-and-stick approach, of offering assistance to students and parents but using punishment if that doesn't work, is often effective, Culberson
"Schools that want to do the right thing are going to want to do whatever they can to have kids in school and have them graduate," he