State law encourages or requires districts to address truancy or chronic absenteeism through the provision of comprehensive student support services.
A Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Approach to Improving Student Attendance
This document addresses strategies for chronic absenteeism.
Code of Maine Rules 05.071.128 Truants and dropouts guidelines
Section 12. School Board Policies Required
You will note on the first page of Section 911, sub-section 5, the statement requiring local boards to promulgate rules and regulations and to file a copy of these with the Commissioner. Such rules and regulations will be included in school board policies on the subjects identified in the legislation. It is expected that many of the needed policies are already in existence, but it may be necessary to adopt additional policies. Once all appropriate local policies have been adopted, these would become the rules and regulations required. The set of policies must then be submitted to the Commissioner prior to October 1, 1978. Any subsequent policy changes must be submitted upon adoption.
From a review of this legislation, it is apparent that policies are needed in the following areas:
A. Excused absences - Although excused absences are specifically identified in the legislation, policies are needed to provide guidance to local administrators.
B. Unexcused absences - All absences that are not included in # 1 above are unexcused absences.
C. Information required to be maintained on truant pupils
- What to collect
- How to maintain
- Adherence to confidentiality
D. Procedures for referral of truancy matters from the principal to the superintendent.
E. Procedures for referral of truancy matters from the superintendent to the school board.
F. Procedures for notification of parents regarding hearing before the school board.
G. Procedures for waiving of compulsory attendance and for parent appeal if attendance is waived.
H. Procedures for bringing legal action against the parent under sub-section 8 of 20 MRSA 911.
I. Procedures for pupil to obtain work permit.
J. Procedures for excusing 14 year-old pupil for "suitable program of work, work study or training" and procedures for involving pupil in program selection.
It is possible that some policies addressing the preceding areas are already in effect through the Positive Action Committee Dropout Plan. You are, therefore, reminded to coordinate the development of the rules and regulations required under this legislation with the local plan for dealing with dropouts which is required by Statute(20 MRSA 931-933).
Maine Revised Statutes 20-A 5051-A. Truancy
- Truant. A student is truant if the student is subject to section 5001-A and:
A. Deleted. Laws 2007, c. 304, § 5.
B. Has completed grade 6 and has the equivalent of 10 full days of unexcused absences or 7 consecutive school days of unexcused absences during a school year;
C. Is at least 6years of age and has not completed grade 6 and has the equivalent of 7 full days of unexcused absences or 5 consecutive school days of unexcused absences during a school year; or
D. Is enrolled in a public day school, is at least 5 years of age and has not completed grade 6 and has the equivalent of 7 full days of unexcused absences or 5 consecutive school days of unexcused absences during a school year.
- Procedures; written notice; referral. This subsection governs the procedure to be followed when a student is truant.
A. Deleted. Laws 2011, c. 614, § 13.
A-1. The principal, upon determining that a student is truant under subsection 1, shall notify the superintendent of the student’s truancy within 5 school days of the last unexcused absence.
A-2. A student who is determined truant under subsection 1 must be referred to the school’s student assistance team or the school personnel designated by the superintendent in accordance with the school administrative unit’s intervention system under section 4710 to determine the cause of the truancy and assess the effect of the student’s absences, as well as any future absences for the student. If it is determined that a negative effect exists, the student assistance team or the school personnel designated by the superintendent in accordance with the school administrative unit’s intervention system under section 4710 shall develop an intervention plan to address the student’s absences and the negative effect of these absences. An intervention plan may include, but is not limited to:
(1) Frequent communication between the teacher and the family;
(2) Changes in the learning environment;
(4) Student counseling;
(5) Tutoring, including peer tutoring;
(6) Placement into different classes;
(7) Consideration of multiple pathways as described under section 4703;
(8) Attendance contracts;
(9) Referral to other agencies for family services; and
(10) Other interventions, including, but not limited to, referral to the school attendance coordinator, student assistance team or dropout prevention committee.
Failure of the student or the student’s parents to appear at scheduled meetings does not preclude the school administrators from implementing an intervention plan to address the student’s truancy.
B. Deleted. Laws 2011, c. 614, § 13.
B-1. The superintendent shall develop procedures to refer a student who is truant to the student assistance team or the school personnel designated by the superintendent in accordance with the school administrative unit’s intervention system under section 4710 in accordance with this section. These procedures may include, but are not limited to:
(1) Identifying school personnel responsible for notifying the student assistance team or the school personnel designated by the superintendent in accordance with the school administrative unit’s intervention system when a student is truant;
(2) A process for referral of a student who is truant, including identifying school personnel responsible for inviting the parents and the student to participate in any meeting that results from this referral;
(3) A timeline for setting up a meeting and developing an intervention plan under paragraph A-2;
(4) A plan for dealing with future absences of a student who is truant; and
(5) A plan for reporting of the results of the intervention plan developed pursuant to paragraph A-2.
C. If the intervention plan developed pursuant to paragraph A-2 is unable to correct the truancy of the child, the superintendent shall serve or cause to be served upon the parent in hand or by registered mail a written notice that attendance of the child at school is required by law. The notice must:
(1) State that the student is required to attend school pursuant to section 5001-A;
(2) Explain the parent’s right to inspect the student’s attendance records, attendance coordinator’s reports and principal’s reports;
(3) Explain that the failure to send the student to school and maintain the student in regular attendance is a civil violation in accordance with section 5053-A and will jeopardize the student’s status in the grade that the student is in;
(4) State that the superintendent may notify the local law enforcement department of a violation of section 5053-A and the Department of Health and Human Services of a violation under subsection 1, paragraph C; and
(5) Outline the plan developed to address the student’s truancy and the steps that have been taken to implement that plan.
D. Prior to notifying the local law enforcement department under paragraph E, the superintendent shall schedule at least one meeting as required in paragraph B-1 and may invite a local prosecutor.
E. If, after 3 school days after service of the notice referred to in paragraph C, the student remains truant and the parent and student refuse to attend the meeting scheduled according to paragraph D, the superintendent shall report the facts of the unlawful absence to the local law enforcement department, which may proceed with an action to enforce section 5053-A against the parent unless the student is at once placed in an appropriate school or otherwise meets the requirements under section 5001-A.
F. When a student is determined to be truant and in violation of section 5001-A and the student assistance team or the school personnel designated by the superintendent in accordance with the school administrative unit’s intervention system under section 4710 and the superintendent have made a good faith attempt to meet the requirements of paragraph B-1, the superintendent shall notify the school board of the student’s truancy.
Maine Revised Statutes 20-A 5053-A. Enforcement
- Civil violation. If a parent has control of a student who is truant under section 5051-A, subsection 1 and that parent is primarily responsible for that truancy, that parent commits a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $250 may be adjudged, all or part of which may be suspended upon the parent’s compliance with a court order under subsection 2.
- Dispositions. The court may also order a parent adjudicated as violating subsection 1 to take specific action to ensure the child’s attendance at school; comply with the intervention plan developed in accordance with section 5051-A, subsection 2, paragraph A-2; participate in a parent-training class; attend school with the child; perform community service hours at the school; or participate in counseling or other services as appropriate.
- Notice required. Notice must be provided to the parent pursuant to section 5051-A, subsection 2, paragraph C before a prosecution for violating subsection 1 may be brought against the parent.
- Prima facie proof. Evidence that shows that the parent received the notice under section 5051-A, subsection 2 and that the child has accumulated 10 cumulative full days of absences or 5 consecutive school days of absences that are not justified under the established attendance policies of the school administrative unit is prima facie proof that the parent is primarily responsible for the child’s truancy or the parent failed to take corrective measures for the child’s truancy.
- Defense. It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection 1 that the parent has exercised reasonable diligence in attempting to cause a child in the parent’s custody to attend school or that the administrators of the child’s school did not perform their duties as required by law.
- Process. Service of a summons on the parent pursuant to subsection 1 must be in accordance with the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Jurisdiction. The District Court has jurisdiction over violations under subsection 1.