Police to send truant kids to new center

Kids that ditch class now have bigger worries than getting caught by the principal or their parents — San Francisco police officers.

Police Chief George Gascón said Friday that he has instructed patrol officers to be extra vigilant about rounding up truant children who are on the streets during school hours.

They won’t be arrested or carted to the slammer. They will instead be shipped to a building at 44 Gough St. housing the brand new Truancy Assessment and Referral Center.

The center, which was officially launched Friday, is part of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s recently pledged crackdown on chronic truancy, which he has called an education priority for 2010.

There are about 5,000 truant kids in The City, he said.

“The dropout and truancy rates … are disgracefully high,” Newsom said. “Over a five-year period, 94 percent of homicide victims of those 25 and younger were dropouts.”

The new truancy center will be a one-stop location for services to help get those kids back into the classroom. It is located a hallway away from the Community Assessment and Referral Center, or CARC, which recently relocated into the building from its former Tenderloin location.

CARC provides services that attempt to correct the path of young people who are arrested for non-violent crimes.

Truant youth will be filtered through CARC before entering TARC. They will be near quite possibly every help service possible, including law enforcement officials, school counselors and other mentors.

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