In a move inspired by the most paranoid of science fiction books, California’s Anaheim Union High School District is using GPS to track and locate seventh- and eighth-grade students who habitually skip school, reports the OC Register. Not all students are monitored, however. For now, the program is only designed for the worst offenders. 75 students with four or more unexcused absences are currently enrolled in the volunteer GPS test program.
Students in the test have signed up to avoid extra schooling or juvenile detention due to their truancy record. They are given a clunky looking GPS device and are required to “check in” five times during the school day. The school also calls these students every morning to ensure they wake up and assigns an adult coach who helps meets with the students three days a week to figure out ways to attend class on time.
“The idea is for this not to feel like a punishment, but an intervention to help them develop better habits and get to school,” said Miller Sylvan, regional director for AIM Truancy Solutions.
So far the program is working. Attendance among those in the program jumped from 77 percent to 95 percent during the six week program. But the improvement doesn’t come cheap. Each GPS unit costs as much as $400 and the total price of the six-week test program was $18,000, or about $8 per day for each student enrolled. Still, the price is steep, but it beats the alternative. The schools stand to lose $35 per day for each student who skips out. The students lose out too as skipping school is technically a crime. If prosecuted, parents of truant students can be charged $2,000 and the students can be sent to juvenile hall.
Our question: how long will it take students to figure out that they can just have their friends check in for them?