Calif. School Districts Review Parent Notification Policies in Wake of Sierra LaMar's Disappearance

Marion Herbert's picture
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Responding to parent pressure after the disappearance of Sierra La Mar, the Morgan Hill (Calif.) Unified School District began notifying parents in the morning as well as evening if their children don't show up to school.

The district's automatic calling system will inform parents of any unexcused absences at 10:30 a.m., in addition to the previous 6 p.m. notification.

For the next school year, the district is hoping to offer parents the option of being notified by text message or by email when their children have an unverified absence. The district is working with its two automated messaging vendors to try to arrange those options.

Fifteen-year-old Sierra disappeared on her way to school on March 16. But Sobrato High School, like most secondary schools in the Bay Area, did not send out an automated phone call to her mother until that evening. Such notifications were designed to curb truancy and to improve attendance, not as checks on children's safety. In Morgan Hill, as in other districts, parents may check online on their students' attendance during the day.

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