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Sierra LaMar's Case Reminder to Update Information with Schools

School districts contact parents on absences, but cannot reach them if their contact information isn't current.

As the search continues with the kidnapping of Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar, a closer look has been cast in the day of the abduction.

According to an article in the Mercury News the parents of missing teen Sierra LaMar had no idea she never showed up for class until 6:00 p.m., despite the schools computers having logged her in as absent nearly 10 hours earlier in the day.

But what happens if the information at the district office isn't up to date?

"Life happens, people move, get new cell phones but it's important to have most current contact information on file at your school," says Spokeswoman Marla Sanchez.

Every school district handles absenses and parent contact differently but here in Campbell, Campbell Union School District use a program called School Messenger.

The program allows live people to contact parents of students who have unverified/unexcused absences early in the morning, Sanchez says.

Two of the three middle schools within the district, however use an automated message aimed at dinnertime because there's a greater chance of making contact with parents.

"If the call goes out earlier, students sometimes intercept the message and erase it," Sanchez says. "But there are always opportunities for us to take another look and we encourage people to contact us with ideas."

At Moreland School District, Office Manager Tanya De La Cruz says all elementary schools have their office assistant or secretary call families personally to report absences for anyone without an absence message on the absence line.

Usually, these calls are all completed by 10:00 a.m. she says.

At Moreland Middle School, the district uses Blackboard Connect to notify parents of absences. 

"The goal is to get the Blackboard Connect message out to the parents ASAP, and this is usually completed by 10:00 a.m.," De La Cruz says.

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Paddy April 05, 2012 at 09:44 PM
It's not going to work Ms. Sanchez, you're talking in circles. Sierra LaMar's contact information was current. Sobrato HS was negligent, they should have alerted Sierra's parents earlier in the day, instead the school waited until 6pm to notify these parents.
Julia Detweiler April 06, 2012 at 07:32 AM
I could not agree more on the fact that our children need to be kept safe. While they are in the hands of the schools, Time is of essence and every family structure could be different. So why not call immediately and than recall again around the dinner hour. Would be a lot less energy than what we are going through at this point. Sometimes a little energy can go a long way. This would assist in keeping our children/teenagers safe. Jdetweiler/Sonoma County concerned parent.
Mayra Flores de Marcotte April 18, 2012 at 08:39 AM
Clarification from Marla Sanchez: School Messenger is our automated calling system. The live calling, etc., is how our staff handles verifying absences."

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