Wisconsin - Family Engagement on Chronic Absenteeism: Program requirements

Area: 
Program Requirement
Policy Type: 
Statute
Summary: 

State law involves parents in responding to truancy or chronic absenteeism using non-punitive or supportive interventions.

Wisconsin Statutes 118.162 Truancy committee and plan.

(4) Not later than September 1, 1989, each school board shall adopt a truancy plan which shall include all of the following:

  • (a) Procedures to be followed for notifying the parents or guardians of the unexcused absences of habitual truants under s. 118.16 (2) (cr) and for meeting and conferring with such parents or guardians.
  • (b) Plans and procedures for identifying truant children of all ages and returning them to school, including the identity of school personnel to whom a truant child shall be returned.
  • (c) Methods to increase and maintain public awareness of and involvement in responding to truancy within the school district.
  • (d) The immediate response to be made by school personnel when a truant child is returned to school.
  • (e) The types of truancy cases to be referred to the district attorney for the filing of information under s. 938.24 or prosecution under s. 118.15 (5) and the time periods within which the district attorney will respond to and take action on the referrals.
  • (f) Plans and procedures to coordinate the responses to the problems of habitual truants, as defined under s. 118.16 (1) (a), with public and private social services agencies.
  • (g) Methods to involve the truant child’s parent or guardian in dealing with and solving the child’s truancy problem.

(4m) At least once every 2 years, each school board shall review and, if appropriate, revise the truancy plan adopted by the school board under sub. (4).


Wisconsin Statutes 118.16 School attendance enforcement.

(2) The school attendance officer:

  • (a) Shall determine daily which pupils enrolled in the school district are absent from school and whether that absence is excused under s. 118.15.
  • (c) Except as provided under pars. (cg) and (cr), shall notify the parent or guardian of a child who has been truant of the child’s truancy and direct the parent or guardian to return the child to school no later than the next day on which school is in session or to provide an excuse under s. 118.15. The notice under this paragraph shall be given before the end of the 2nd school day after receiving a report of an unexcused absence. The notice may be made by electronic communication, personal contact, 1st class mail, or telephone call of which a written record is kept. The school attendance officer shall attempt to give notice by personal contact, telephone call, or, unless the parent or guardian has refused to receive electronic communication, electronic communication before notice by 1st class mail may be given.
  • (cg) Shall notify the parent or guardian of a child who is a habitual truant, by registered or certified mail or by 1st class mail, when the child initially becomes a habitual truant. The school attendance officer may simultaneously notify the parent or guardian of the habitually truant child by an electronic communication. The notice shall include all of the following:
      1. A statement of the parent’s or guardian’s responsibility, under s. 118.15 (1) (a) and (am), to cause the child to attend school regularly.
      1. A statement that the parent, guardian or child may request program or curriculum modifications for the child under s. 118.15 (1) (d) and that the child may be eligible for enrollment in a program for children at risk under s. 118.153 (3).
      1. A request that the parent or guardian meet with appropriate school personnel to discuss the child’s truancy. The notice shall include the name of the school personnel with whom the parent or guardian should meet, a date, time and place for the meeting and the name, address and telephone number of a person to contact to arrange a different date, time or place. The date for the meeting shall be within 5 school days after the date that the notice is sent, except that with the consent of the child’s parent or guardian the date for the meeting may be extended for an additional 5 school days.

Wisconsin Statutes 118.16 School attendance enforcement.

(cm) 1. The school board may establish policies which provide that a pupil of an age eligible for high school enrollment in the school district, as determined by the school board, may be assigned to a period of assessment as a consequence of the pupil’s truancy or upon the pupil’s return to school from placement in a correctional facility, mental health treatment facility, alcohol and other drug abuse treatment facility or other out-of-school placement. The policies shall specify the conditions under which a pupil may participate in the assessment without being in violation of s. 118.15 and the maximum length of time that a pupil may be assigned to an assessment period.

    1. A school board may not assign a pupil to an assessment period without the written approval of the pupil’s parent or guardian. A school board may not assign a pupil to an assessment period for longer than the time necessary to complete the assessment and place the pupil in an appropriate education program or 8 weeks, whichever is less. A school board may not assign a pupil to an assessment period more than once and may not assign a pupil to an assessment period if the school district has an alternative education program, as defined in s. 115.28 (7) (e) 1., available for the pupil that is appropriate for the pupil’s needs. An assessment need not be conducted during the regular school day.
    1. The goals of an assessment period are to develop an educational plan for the pupil, implement an appropriate transitional plan and facilitate the pupil’s placement in an education program in which the pupil will be able to succeed. The school board shall provide pupils who are assigned to an assessment period with information on other education programs that the school district or other community providers have available for the pupil. The assessment may include any of the following new or previously completed activities:
      • a. An assessment for problems with alcohol or other drugs.
      • b. An assessment of individual educational needs.
      • c. An assessment of whether the pupil is encountering problems in the community or at home that require intervention by a social worker.
      • d. A vocational assessment, which may include career counseling.
      • e. A medical assessment.

(d) The school board shall provide each pupil enrolled in the public schools in the district with a copy of the policies established under this subsection and shall file a copy of the policies in each school in the district. In addition, the school board shall make copies available upon request.

(e) Except as provided under s. 119.55, a school board may establish one or more youth service centers for the counseling of children who are taken into custody under s. 938.19 (1) (d) 10. for being absent from school without an acceptable excuse under s. 118.15.

(5) Except as provided in sub. (5m), before any proceeding may be brought against a child under s. 938.13 (6) for habitual truancy or under s. 938.125 (2) or 938.17 (2) for a violation of an ordinance enacted under s. 118.163 (2) or against the child's parent or guardian under s. 118.15 for failure to cause the child to attend school regularly, the school attendance officer shall provide evidence that appropriate school personnel in the school or school district in which the child is enrolled have, within the school year during which the truancy occurred, done all of the following:

  • (a) Met with the child's parent or guardian to discuss the child's truancy or attempted to meet with the child's parent or guardian and received no response or were refused.
  • (b) Provided an opportunity for educational counseling to the child to determine whether a change in the child's curriculum would resolve the child's truancy and have considered curriculum modifications under s. 118.15 (1) (d).
  • (c) Evaluated the child to determine whether learning problems may be a cause of the child's truancy and, if so, have taken steps to overcome the learning problems, except that the child need not be evaluated if tests administered to the child within the previous year indicate that the child is performing at his or her grade level.
  • (d) Conducted an evaluation to determine whether social problems may be a cause of the child's truancy and, if so, have taken appropriate action or made appropriate referrals.

(5m) Subsection (5) (a) does not apply if a meeting under sub. (2) (cg) 3. is not held within 10 school days after the date that the notice under sub. (2) (cg) is sent. Subsection (5) (b), (c) and (d) does not apply if the school attendance officer provides evidence that appropriate school personnel were unable to carry out the activity due to the child's absences from school.

(6) 

  • (a) If the school attendance officer receives evidence that activities under sub. (5) have been completed or were not required to be completed as provided in sub. (5m), the school attendance officer may do any of the following:
      1. File information on any child who continues to be truant with the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 in accordance with s. 938.24. Filing information on a child under this subdivision does not preclude concurrent prosecution of the child's parent or guardian under s. 118.15 (5).
      1. Refer the child to a teen court program if all of the following conditions apply:
        • a. The chief judge of the judicial administrative district has approved a teen court program established in the child's county of residence and has authorized the school attendance officer to refer children to the teen court program and the school attendance officer determines that participation in the teen court program will likely benefit the child and the community.
        • b. The child and the child's parent, guardian and legal custodian consent to the child's participation in the teen court program.
        • c. The child has not successfully completed participation in a teen court program during the 2 years before the date on which the school attendance officer received evidence that activities under sub. (5) have been completed or were not completed due to the child's absence from school as provided in sub. (5m).
  • (b) If a child who is referred to a teen court program under par. (a) 2. is not eligible for participation in the teen court program or does not successfully complete participation in the teen court program, the person administering the teen court program shall file information on the child with the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under chs. 48 and 938 in accordance with s. 938.24. Filing information on a child under this paragraph does not preclude concurrent prosecution of the child's parent or guardian under s. 118.15 (5).

(7) Any school district administrator, principal, teacher or school attendance officer who violates this section shall forfeit not less than $5 nor more than $25.

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