Approved:            9-12-07
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Philosophy:

South Sanpete School District believes that school attendance has a direct impact on a student’s level of academic achievement. In order to make the most of one’s educational opportunity, a student must have consistent, punctual, daily attendance. Regular attendance and participation in class is essential for students to be successful and prepare themselves for the best quality of life. It is primarily the responsibility of the student to achieve daily, punctual attendance as directed by the Utah Compulsory Education Act, Utah Code 53A-11 (101-105) and Administrative Rules R277-438 and 607. Parents or guardians and school officials share a responsibility to make earnest and persistent efforts to resolve attendance problems. A parent or guardian is always welcome and is encouraged to call or visit the school for current attendance and academic information regarding his/her student.

Definitions:

1.  “Valid Excuse” means:

a.  an absence resulting from:

i.    illness;
ii.   death of family member or close friend;
iii.  a documented medical appointment
iv.  a family emergency
v.   an approved school activity;
vi.  family activity or travel, consistent with District/school policy. In determining whether to pre-approve an extended absence due to a family activity or travel, the district shall approve the absence if the District determines there is substantial education value and the absence will not adversely impact the student’s education; or
vii.  other absences may be considered as “valid” on a case by case basis by the District.

b.   an absence permitted by a student’s:

i.    individualized education program, developed pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act; or
ii.   accommodation plan, developed pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

    2.  “Home School” means a school comprised of one or more students officially excused from compulsory public school attendance under this policy and Utah Code Ann. 53A-11-102
    3.  “Private School” means a school satisfying the following criteria;  

    a.  maintained by private individuals or entities;
    b. maintained and operated not at public expense.
    c. generally supported, in part at least, by tuition fee or charges;
    d. operated as a substitute for, and giving the equivalent of, instruction required in public schools;
    e. employment teachers able to provide the same quality of education as public school teachers;
    f. established to operate indefinitely and independently, not dependent upon the age of the students available or upon individual family situations; and
    g. licensed as a business by the Utah Department of Business Regulations.

    4.  “Truant” means absent without a valid excuse or excused absence.

    Policy:

    The purpose of this Policy is to establish consistent procedures for South Sanpete schools in informing parents about compulsory education laws, encouraging and monitoring school attendance consistent with the law, and providing consequences for noncompliance.

    Notice of Compulsory Education Attendance Laws:

    Prior to or no later than school registration, the parent or legal guardian of each student in grades 1-12 shall be provided written notice from the school or district informing the parents or legal guardians of Compulsory Education attendance laws and encouraging parental cooperation.

    Compulsory Education:

    The parent or legal guardian of a student who is at least six (6) years of age and not more than eighteen (18) years of age, shall enroll and send his or her school-age minor to a public or regularly established private school during the school year of the district in which the student resides, unless exempted as indicated below.  Attendance shall be in District schools or in some other district to which the student may legally be transferred, or in a regularly established private school.  It is a class B misdemeanor for a parent or legal guardian to fail to enroll a school-age minor in school, unless exempted as indicated below.  The District shall report violations of this policy to the appropriate city, county, or district attorney.

     

    Exemptions:

    Students who meet one or more of the following conditions to the satisfaction of the Board shall be exempt from compulsory attendance requirements and shall be given a certificate, issued by the Board, stating that the minor is excused from attendance during the time specified on the certificate:

    1.  A student over age sixteen (16) may receive a partial release from school to enter employment, or to attend a trade school, if the student has completed the eighth grade.  Minors receiving this exemption must still attend school part-time as required by the Board.
    2. On an annual basis, a minor under eighteen (18) years of age may receive a full release from attending a public, regularly established private or part-time school or class if one of the following is established to the Board’s satisfaction:

    a. The minor has already completed the work required for graduation from high school or has demonstrated mastery of the skills and competencies required for graduation from high school in accordance with Utah Code Ann. 53A-15-102(1).

    b. The minor is in a physical or mental condition, certified by a competent physician if required by the Board, which renders attendance inexpedient and impracticable.

    c. Proper influences and adequate opportunities for education are provided in connection with the minor’s employment.

    d. The Superintendent determines that the minor, if over age sixteen (16), is unable to profit from attendance at school because of inability or a continuing negative attitude toward school regulations and discipline.

    e. The minor is taught at home in the subjects prescribed by the State Board of Education in accordance with the law and for the same length of time as minors are required by State Board of Education rule to be taught in public schools.  A minor receiving a partial release in order to enter employment under item (1) above may be excused from attending required part-time school if the minor is taught the required number of hours at home.

    i. Subject to the requirements of Subsection (e) discussed above, a parent of a minor who attends a home school is solely responsible for:

    1. the selection of instructional materials and textbooks;
    2. the time, place, and method of instruction, and
    3. the evaluation of the home school instruction.

    ii. A local school board may not:

    1. require a parent of a minor who attends a home school to maintain records of instruction or attendance;
    2. require credentials for individuals providing home school instruction;
    3. inspect home school facilities; or
    4. require standardized or other testing of home school students.

     Certificate of Exemption from Public School Attendance:

    When the Board excuses a minor from public school attendance pursuant to an exemption provided in this policy, the Board shall issue a certificate stating the minor is excused from attendance during the time specified on the certificate.

    School Efforts to Resolve Attendance Problems:

    Prior to or no later than school registration, the parent(s) of all students in grades 1-12 shall be provided written notice from the school or district informing parents of Compulsory Education attendance laws and encouraging parental cooperation.

    1. A student registering in the school district during the school year shall be provided written notice explaining the school and school district’s compulsory education policy.

    2. A student moving from one school to another within the same district may be provided written notice explaining the school and school district’s compulsory education policy.

     The District shall make reasonable efforts to resolve the school attendance problems of its schools, including the following, as deemed reasonable by the Board or its designee in individual cases:

    1. counseling of the student by school authorities;
    2. issuing a Notice of Truancy (see below);
    3. issuing a Notice of Compulsory Education Violation (see below);
    4. adjusting the curriculum and schedule if determined necessary to meet special needs of the student;
    5. considering alternatives proposed by the parent or legal guardian;
    6. monitoring school attendance of the student;
    7. voluntarily participating in truancy mediation, if available;
    8. providing the student’s parent or legal guardian, upon request, a list of resources available to assist the parent or legal guardian in resolving the student’s attendance problems; and
    9. enlisting the assistance of community and law enforcement agencies as appropriate

    This policy and related statute do not impose any civil liability on the school district or its employees.

     

    Notice of Compulsory Education Violation:

    A school administrator, a designee of the school administrator, or a truancy specialist may issue a notice of compulsory education violation to a parent of a student, who is at least six (6) years old but under the age of fourteen (14), if the student is truant at least five (5) times during the school year.

    The notice of compulsory education violation shall:

    1. direct the student’s parent or legal guardian to meet with designated school authorities to discuss the student’s attendance problems and cooperate with the District to secure regular attendance by the student. This meeting shall also allow the student/parent a platform for due process at the local school level.

    The parent/student may also appeal the local school decision by submitting a written appeal to the Board or its designee within 10 days after the school decision was rendered.

    2. specify the school authorities with whom the parent is required to meet.

    3. state that it is a class B misdemeanor for the student’s parent or legal guardian to intentionally or recklessly fail to meet with the designated school authorities to discuss the student’s attendance problems or fail to prevent the student from being truant an additional five (5) or more times during the remainder of the school year.

    4. be served on the student’s parent or legal guardian by personal service or certified mail.

     The District shall report violations of this policy to the appropriate city, county, or district attorney.

    Notice of Truancy:

    A student is truant who is absent from school without a valid excuse.  The District may authorize school administrators, a designee of the school administrator, or a truancy specialist to issue a notice of truancy to any student who is at least twelve (12) years of age and has been truant at least five (5) times during the school year.

    The notice of truancy shall:

    1. direct the student and his or her parent or legal guardian to meet with the designated school authorities and cooperate with the school in securing regular attendance by the school.
    2. outline the procedure, established by the District, for the student and/or his or her parent or legal guardian to contest the notice of truancy;
    3. be mailed  to, or served on, the student’s parent or legal guardian.

       

       

      Habitual Truant Citation:

      A “habitual truant” is a student, twelve (12) years of age or older, who fails to cooperate with efforts on the part of school authorities to resolve the student’s attendance problem as outlined above and/or has been absent without valid excuse ten (10) or more times during one school year.  A habitual truant citation may be issued by a designated school administrator, a designee of the school administrator, or truancy specialist to a habitual truant after reasonable efforts have been made by the school to resolve the school attendance problems of the student, as outlined above, and these efforts have not been successful.

      After issuing a habitual truant citation, the school shall refer the habitual truant to juvenile court.  The habitual truant is subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

      Other Actions to Resolve Attendance Problems:

      Nothing in the Notice of Truancy policy or Habitual Truant Citation policy shall prohibit a school from taking action to resolve a student’s attendance problems prior to five (5) absences without valid excuses, providing the action does not conflict with the requirements of these policies.

      Truancy Specialist:

      The Board shall appoint and determine compensation for a truancy specialist to assist in enforcing laws related to school attendance, and to perform other duties prescribed by law or the Board.

      Duties and Powers:

      The truancy specialist may:

      1. Investigate all cases of unexcused absences from school.
      2. Enforce provisions of the compulsory attendance law.
      3. Keep written records of all cases of any kind investigated by the truancy specialist in the discharge of his or her duties.
      4. Follow and assist the school in the designation of habitually truant students pursuant to policy FBD.

       Custody:

      The truancy specialist or a school administrator may take a minor into temporary custody if there is reason to believe the minor is a truant minor.

       If the truancy specialist or a school administrator takes a child into custody, the truancy specialist or administrator shall, without unnecessary delay, release the child to one of the following:

      1. The Principal of the child’s school
      2. Any person designated by the Board to receive the child and return him or her to school.
      3. A designated receiving center of the District.

      If a child refuses to return to school or to go to the receiving center, the officer or administrator shall, without unnecessary delay, notify the child’s parents, guardian or custodian and release the child to their custody.  If the parent, guardian or custodian cannot be reached or are unable or unwilling to accept custody, the child shall be referred to the Division of Child and Family Services.

       

      Policy References:

      H.B. 207 “School Truancy and Compulsory Education Amendments” (General Session 2007)
      Utah Code: 53A-11-(101, 102, 101.3, 101.5, 101.7, 103, 104, and 105)
      Utah Administrative Rule R277-607 and 438
      District Policy JD “Compulsory Education and Attendance”
      District Policy JE “District Attendance Policy”

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