The Orange County Register reports that Anaheim-area schools in California are testing out a new method to keep kids from skipping school: GPS tracking.
After a rise in truancy, school officials decided to go high-tech with their efforts. Kristen Levitin, principal of Dale Junior High School, told the Register that officials have exhausted other tactics.
"This is their last chance at an intervention. Anything that can help these kids get to class is a good thing."
The device prompts students to check-in via text message five times a day. KTVQ reports that the last check-in time is at 8 p.m.
Rick Martens, Anaheim's director of safe schools, told CBS that the GPS unit will fact-check the student's text.
"So if the kid does text and say, 'I'm here, I'm at school,' but the GPS shows that they're somewhere else, it obviously gives us some indicators that the student is not where he should be, and so we know to go look for them."
Currently, the pilot program has given out devices to 75 students who have had four or more unexcused absences.
AIM Truancy Solutions is currently working with the school to oversee the program. Miller Sylvan, regional director of AIM, told the Register in an separate interview that the units would not be physically attached to the children.
"We don't want to criminalize the kids or have them wear any bracelet or something around their ankle that would stigmatize them. The students are frequently entering a code and interacting with the device, so we think it's the best way to let them carry it."
Other schools across the nation have participated in similar programs and saw measurable success, however, parents have expressed concern over the tactic. Raphael Garcia, a parent of a sixth grader with six unexcused absences, told the Register that he didn't like the connotations.
"I feel like they come at us too hard, and making kids carry around something that tracks them seems extreme. This makes us seem like common criminals."