Tennessee - Chronic Absenteeism Early Warning Systems: Programs and Services (S/D)

Area: 
Programs And Services
Policy Type: 
statute; regulation
Summary: 

State law encourages or requires districts to address truancy or chronic absenteeism through the provision of comprehensive student support services.

2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3009. Penalty for violations -- Alternative to prosecution -- Truancy. [Effective on July 1, 2018. See the version effective until July 1, 2018.]

(c) As an alternative to the filing of a truancy petition or for criminal prosecution for educational neglect, a director of schools or attendance supervisor shall devise and recommend, and the school board shall adopt, progressive truancy interventions for students who violate compulsory attendance requirements. These interventions must be designed to address student conduct related to truancy in the school setting and minimize the need for referrals to juvenile court.

(d) Progressive truancy interventions adopted by a school district pursuant to subsection (c) shall be applied prior to referral to juvenile court for the conduct described in § 49-6-3007 and shall meet the following requirements:

  • (1) The first tier of progressive truancy interventions is triggered by at least three (3) unexcused absences within a school year;
  • (2) The first tier of progressive truancy interventions must include, at a minimum:
    • (A) A conference with the student and the student's parent or guardian;
    • (B) A resulting attendance contract to be signed by the student, the student's parent or guardian, and an attendance officer, which shall include:
      • (i) A specific description of the school's attendance expectations for the child;
      • (ii) The period for which the contract is effective, not to exceed ninety (90) school days, or the last day of the semester after the date the contract becomes effective, whichever comes first; and
      • (iii) Penalties for additional absences and alleged school offenses, including additional disciplinary action and potential referral to juvenile court; and
    • (C) Regularly scheduled follow-up meetings to discuss the student's progress;
  • (3) The progressive truancy interventions shall include, in addition to the first tier, at least two (2) additional tiers of interventions that are applied if the student accumulates additional unexcused absences in violation of the attendance contract;
  • (4) At least one (1) tier shall include an individualized assessment by a school employee of the reasons a student has been absent from school, and if necessary, referral of the child to counseling, community-based services, or other in-school or out-of-school services aimed at addressing the student's attendance problems;
  • (5) Additional interventions may consist of one (1) or more of the following:
    • (A) School-based community services;
    • (B) Participation in a school-based restorative justice program;
    • (C) Referral to a school-based teen court; or
    • (D) Saturday courses designed to improve attendance and behavior;
  • (6) In-school suspension or out-of-school suspension shall not be used as part of the progressive truancy interventions adopted by schools for unexcused absences from class or school; and
  • (7) A referral made under subdivisions (d)(1)-(5) may include participation by the child's parent or guardian if necessary.

Rules of the Tennessee Department of Education 0520-02-02-.24 JOB DESCRIPTION, ATTENDANCE SUPERVISORS. [Repealed as of 08/29/2018]

(1) Service to Students.

  • (a) Evaluation and Assessment. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Interviews and recommends placement of students returning from schools of correction, juvenile detention centers or alternative schools
      1. Obtains information and prepares assessment reports on referrals
      1. Assists M-teams in the assessment of program needs for special education students.
  • (b) Counseling and Consultation. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Counsels students regarding absenteeism
      1. Conducts exit interviews and provides follow-up services to dropouts
      1. Moves about the community during school hours and provides service to students on the street or in public places
      1. Assists students in obtaining services through community agencies.

(2) Service to School Staff.

  • (a) Planning and Program Management. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Plans, coordinates and supervises an effective school attendance program
      1. Prepares monthly and yearly attendance reports as needed
      1. Supervises the issuance of age certificates and similar documents
      1. Conducts the annual school census
      1. Maintains records of student transfers, tuition paying status, enforcement of boundaries and projections of future enrollments
      1. Serves as liaison to the courts, various community agencies and school personnel
      1. Regularly evaluates the effectiveness of attendance services and identifies needs for additional services
      1. Documents delivery of services.
  • (b) Consultation and Communication. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Consults with school personnel regarding individual adjustment problems as they relate to school attendance
      1. Interprets criteria for community resource utilization to school personnel
      1. Provides support and counseling to school staff
      1. Instructs teachers in procedures for attendance accounting
      1. Assists M-teams in program planning for students with special needs
      1. Reports student and family status and progress regularly to school personnel
      1. Disseminates current information to school staff regarding state laws and local board policies relating to school attendance.
  • (c) Staff Development. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Assists the school system in assessing staff development needs
      1. Orients school personnel to school attendance services.
  • (d) Legal Proceedings. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Initiates court proceedings when necessary
      1. Provides guidance to school personnel regarding due process.

(3) Services to Parents/Families.

  • (a) Consultation and Communication. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Makes home visits and holds conferences with parents
      1. Mediates among family, school and court when necessary
      1. Interprets criteria for community resource utilization to families and assists in locating appropriate services outside the school system when needed
      1. Consults with parents regarding school attendance and school adjustment problems
      1. Reports student status and progress regularly to parents.
  • (b) Legal Proceedings. The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Provides guidance to parents regarding due process.

(4) Administration (not more than 10% of total time).

  • (a) The school attendance supervisor:
      1. Consults with school and system administrators regarding attendance services and their integration with the instructional program and other pupil personnel services
      1. Assists in budget preparation for attendance services as needed
      1. Assists in preparation of required school and/or system reports other than those specifically dealing with attendance
      1. Assists legal counsel in preparation of attendance related cases.
        Tennessee Secretary of State

Rules of the Tennessee Department of Education 0520-01-02-.17 STATE ATTENDANCE GUIDELINES.

Each Local Education Agency (LEA) shall adopt an attendance policy that is firm, but fair; includes effective accounting and reporting procedures; accounts for extenuating circumstances; includes appeal procedures; and establishes and maintains alternative programs for students who fail to meet minimum attendance requirements.

Attendance policies should include remedies to address excessive absences that account for a student's social and emotional development and family support. Early intervention is a key aspect of a policy that effectively improves attendance. Efforts to improve attendance should include supports and interventions in elementary, middle, and high school levels to address and prevent chronic absenteeism.

  • (1) The number of unexcused absences shall comply with T.C.A. § 49-6-3007. When appropriate, responses to and consequences for unexcused absences shall be handled within the school setting using relevant supports and interventions that address the underlying cause(s) for the unexcused absences. Nontraditional learning environments that improve student engagement such as online or distance learning, credit recovery, evening programs and flexible scheduling should be considered.
  • (a) Upon or before five (5) days of unexcused absences, the principal or designee shall notify the director of schools or designee and initiate meaningful communications with the student and their parent/guardian. The school shall attempt to determine the underlying cause(s) of the unexcused absences. When appropriate, a plan to improve school attendance should be initiated for the student.
  • (b) Upon or before ten (10) days of unexcused absences, the principal or designee shall attempt to meet in person with the student and/or their parent/guardian, develop or refine the attendance plan, and provide necessary supports and services to improve school attendance. The principal or designee shall maintain documented attempts to meet with the student and their parent/guardian and the resulting attendance plan.
  • (c) The policy shall address the excusing of absences for reasons including but not limited to the following: injury, illness, pregnancy, hospitalization, homebound, summons, subpoena, court order, military, college visits, school-sponsored activities, school-endorsed activities, death of a family member, and extenuating circumstances determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • (d) To the extent possible, local district attendance policies should not be used to penalize students academically.
  • (e) The policy shall align with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act [found at 42 U.S.C. §§ 11431, et seq.].

(2) Whenever possible, attendance issues should be resolved at the school level. To ensure due process, LEAs must adopt a policy that affords students with excessive (more than 5) unexcused absences the opportunity to appeal. Such policy must, at minimum, include written or actual notice to the student or their parent/guardian and the opportunity to be heard. The burden of proof rests on the student or their parent/guardian. The appeal process for determining unexcused absences is ancillary to a truancy decision rendered by a juvenile court judge as described in T.C.A. § 49-6-3010.
Tennessee Secretary of State

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