Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

What is truancy and what are the penalties?

Posted by Marcia on September 9, 2010

I was surprised to learn all of the ramifications and penalties for truancy.

A link on the California Department of Education site provides a thorough explanation about truancy and penalties for students and parents. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ai/tr/ Penalties range from warnings to a $1,000, and if you are in contempt under the law, you may be imprisoned. I’ll provide summaries and quotes, and you can go to the site for additional information.

Definition of a Truant

If your child misses more than 30 minutes of instruction without an excuse three times during the school year he/she must be classified as a truant and reported to the proper school authority.

First Notification Mandate

In addition to the reporting requirement, the school district must notify the parent or guardian by first-class mail or other reasonable means, and must include specific information related to the unexcused absences and notes that the parent or guardian must require the child to attend school. The parent or guardian has the right to meet with school personnel to discuss the issue.

Pupils may be subject to prosecution, suspension, restriction, or delay of the pupil’s driving privilege. It is also recommended the parent or guardian accompany the pupil to school and attend classes with the pupil for one day.

Habitual Truant Mandate

According to the law, once “a student has been reported as a truant three or more times in one school year and after an appropriate school employee has made a conscientious effort to hold at least one meeting with the parent and the student, the student is deemed a habitual truant. The intent is to provide solutions for students who failed to respond to the normal avenues of school intervention.”

Interventions

If your child “… is a habitual truant, or is irregular in attendance at school, or is habitually insubordinate or disorderly during school, the student may be referred to a school attendance review board (SARB) or to the county probation department…. The student may also be referred to a probation officer or district attorney mediation program…. The intent of these laws is to provide intensive guidance to meet the special needs of students with school attendance problems or school behavior problems…. These interventions are designed to divert students with serious attendance and behavioral problems from the juvenile justice system and to reduce the number of students who drop out of school.”

Penalties (Student)

“The law provides schools and school districts with discretion regarding student penalties for truancy as long as they are consistent with state law. The penalties for truancy for students … become progressively severe from the first the time a truancy report is required through the fourth time a truancy report is required.”

The first time a student is truant, a written warning may be issued by a peace officer. A record of the warning may be kept at the school for a minimum of 2 years or until the student graduates or transfers from that school. If the student transfers, the record may be forwarded to the new school or any school receiving the school records. A record may be kept by the law enforcement agency.

The second time a truancy report is required within the same school year, the school may assign the student to an after school or weekend study program located within the same county as the pupil’s school.

“The third time a truancy report is required within the same school year, the student is classified a habitual truant and may be referred to and required to attend, an attendance review board or a truancy mediation program.”

If truancy is reported a fourth time within the same school year, the student is then within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and they may determine the pupil to be a ward of the court.

If your child becomes a ward of the juvenile court, he or she will be required to do one or more of the following:

“(1) Performance at court-approved community services sponsored by either a public or private nonprofit agency for not less than 20 hours but not more than 40 hours over a period not to exceed 90 days, during a time other than the pupil’s hours of school attendance or employment. The probation officer shall report to the court the failure to comply with this paragraph.
(2) Payment of a fine by the pupil of not more than one hundred dollars ($100) for which a parent or guardian of the pupil may be jointly liable.
(3) Attendance of a court-approved truancy prevention program.
(4) Suspension or revocation of driving privileges pursuant to Section 13202.7 of the Vehicle Code. This subdivision shall apply only to a pupil who has attended a school attendance review board program, or a truancy mediation program pursuant to subdivision (c).”

Penalties (Parent)

“Penalties against parents apply when any parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of any student fails to compel the student to attend school.” Penalties are:

“ (1) Upon a first conviction, by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).
(2) Upon a second conviction, by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
(3) Upon a third or subsequent conviction, if the person has willfully refused to comply with this section, by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500). In lieu of the fines prescribed in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), the court may order the person to be placed in a parent education and counseling program.”

“… A judgment granting a defendant time to pay the fine or prescribing the days of attendance in a program shall order that if the defendant fails to pay the fine, or any installment thereof, on the date it is due, he or she shall appear in court on that date for further proceedings. Willful violation of this order is punishable as contempt.” In this case, you may be charged a fine of up to $1,000. If you are in contempt under the law, you may be imprisoned.

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