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Truancy

Going to school makes a difference. One of the most important things you can do to succeed in life is to attend school regularly.

 

Truancy means missing school without permission. It includes skipping a class or missing a full day of school. It is another term for unexcused absence.

You might think that skipping school once or twice is no big deal, but regular school attendance is the law. Frequently ditching school is a sign that you may need help. Left unchecked, truancy can have strong negative effects on your life.

You have to go to school until you are 18. You cannot miss more than three school days within one month, or 10 or more days within six months. Partial days count as full days. A student may miss school for illness, family emergency or other good reasons. A teacher, principal or superintendent can also approve an absence. These are considered excused absences.

Consequences for truancy

If you have too many absences, you could graduate late or be required to repeat a class. If you do not attend at least 90 percent of all class sessions, you will not receive credit for the class.

Legal consequences for students. Failure to attend school is a Class C misdemeanor. A law enforcement or probation officer may take a truant student into custody until the student can go to court, unless a parent or guardian promises to bring the student to court for the hearing.


Your driver's license can be suspended for up to one year for truancy. This includes suspending the ability to receive a learner's permit.

When a student is adjudicated, the judge may order the student to:

  • Attend a class to prepare for the GED exam, if the student can't handle a regular school environment
  • Take the GED exam if the student is at least 16
  • Complete various programs, such as substance abuse counseling, self-esteem building and anger management to help the student succeed in school
  • Complete job skills training
  • Attend dropout prevention classes with his or her parents
  • Perform community service
  • Participate in a tutorial program to make up what was missed during absences from class
  • Attend school without any more absences

Normally, a student won't be punished under progressive sanctions for truancy. However, many frequently truant students commit crimes when they are not in school, or they quit school altogether and then get involved in crime.

Legal consequences for parents. When an attendance problem develops, the school will send parents a warning that they may face criminal charges if they do not send their child to school. If parents fail to require their children to go to school, they can be charged with "parent contributing to non-attendance," a Class C misdemeanor. Each day that is missed after the warning is issued may count as a separate offense.

  • Parents can be fined up to $500 for each day the student misses.
  • A judge can order parents to attend special classes.
  • Parents who do not appear in truancy court may face charges for "failure to appear"

Help is available

Every school district has some type of dropout prevention program. A student who is having trouble in school should talk to a school counselor about the program.

Making Healthy Choices
If you're struggling with schoolwork, classmates, or other problems and it's making you skip classes, reach out to others for help. Community programs, school social workers, family counselors and therapists can all offer insight and support. Your school may offer programs and services-such as tutoring or alternative settings-that may help you.

The Services to At Risk Youth (STAR) Program provides services to reduce family conflict and to prevent the problems of running away, truancy and delinquent behaviors. If you or your family need help coping with problems that are contributing to your truancy, contact the STAR program nearest you. You can find a listing here

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