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Enforcing Truancy Laws

Every school year, there are rules about how many school days a student must attend. Schools and parents alike stress the importance of student attendance. Not going to school regularly can have serious consequences. Enrollment in school means making a commitment to being present. It is a promise to participate and learn. When students miss school, and when it happens too often, this can interfere with students' learning.

This article will explain truancy, how it's enforced, and what you can do if you or someone you know faces truancy violations.

What Is Truancy?

Truancy is when a child misses school without a valid excuse. Schools have an attendance policy. This means students need to be in attendance at school for a certain number of school days per year. Excused absences, like being sick, are allowed. When a student keeps missing school without a good reason, it becomes a problem. This can lead to a student being labeled as a habitual truant.

Both public school and private school students, as well as those in homeschool settings, must follow compulsory attendance laws set by the state.

Truancy Consequences

When a student misses school too often, there are various consequences that can follow. School officials, including school administrators and the school principal, take non-attendance seriously. At first, these officials will reach out to a student's parents. They will inquire about the underlying reasons for their absenteeism.

If the truancy continues, the matter might escalate. In some cases, habitual truancy is classified as a misdemeanor. This can lead to penalties based on the need to ensure that students have access to educational services. If the habitual truant is a high school student, their driver's license can also be affected.

Furthermore, school officials might refer the student to juvenile court. The juvenile court specifically deals with minors. In court, the student or their parents may face sanctions. Examples include community service, fines, or even jail time.

Who Enforces Truancy Laws?

Attendance officers and police officers play a big role in making sure students attend school. The State Board of Education sets rules about school attendance for school districts. If a student breaks these rules, the school board or its designee will get involved. In serious cases, even the district attorney might step in. It's important to remember that compulsory education is a state law, so breaking it can have legal consequences.

The Process of Enforcing Truancy

When a child misses a lot of school days, the school will usually first send a referral to the attendance officer. The officer will check if the absenteeism is due to valid reasons or if the student is a dropout. If the student is of compulsory school age, and there's no valid excuse, the case might go to the district attorney. In most instances, compulsory school age means children under 18 years of age.

How To Dispute Truancy

Sometimes, schools make mistakes. There are ways to dispute truancy if you believe a mistake has been made. Check the school's attendance policy. Understand the difference between excused absences and unexcused absences. Students with disabilities, mental health issues, chronic health issues, or other challenges may have different rules. These students may consider alternative education programs if traditional schooling is not working out.

Always communicate with the school if there is a valid reason for absence. For example, if there is a chronic illness or family emergencies, communicate this to the school.

Getting Legal Help With Truancy Issues

Facing truancy charges can be scary. If you're worried about the legal consequences, it's a good idea to get help. Some families work with lawyers who are experienced in education law. These experts can explain the process. They can review your state's school attendance laws. They can dispute school absences or sanctions given to you or your child.

Speak to an education law attorney today who can help.

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