State law encourages or requires districts to address truancy or chronic absenteeism through the provision of comprehensive student support services.
South Carolina Code of Laws 59-65-90 Rules and regulations
The State Board of Education shall establish regulations defining lawful and unlawful absences beyond those specifically named in this article and additional regulations as are necessary for the orderly enrollment of pupils so as to provide for uniform dates of entrance. These regulations shall require: (1) that school officials shall immediately intervene to encourage the student’s future attendance when the student has three consecutive unlawful absences or a total of five unlawful absences and (2) that the district board of trustees or its designee shall promptly approve or disapprove any student absence in excess of ten days. As used in this section, “intervene” means to identify the reasons for the child’s continued absence and to develop a plan in conjunction with the student and his parent or guardian to improve his future attendance. Provided, However, That nothing within this section shall interfere with the Board’s authority to at any time refer a child to a truancy prevention program or to the court pursuant to § 59-65-50.
South Carolina Code of State Regulations 43-274. Student Attendance.
III. Intervention Plans (A) Each district must develop a policy relating to requirements for intervention. The district plan for improving students’ attendance must be in accordance with any applicable statutes.
(B) Once a child is determined to be truant as defined in Section II(A), school officials must make every reasonable effort to meet with the parent(s) or guardian(s) to identify the reasons for the student’s continued absence. These efforts should include telephone calls and home visits, both during and after normal business hours, as well as written messages and e-mails. School officials must develop a written “intervention plan” to address the student’s continued absence in conjunction with the student and parent(s) or guardian(s).
(C) The intervention plan must include but is not limited to
- (1) Designation of a person to lead the intervention team. The team leader may be someone from another agency.
- (2) Reasons for the unlawful absences.
- (3) Actions to be taken by the parent(s) or guardian(s) and student to resolve the causes of the unlawful absences.
- (4) Documentation of referrals to appropriate service providers and, if available, alternative school and community-based programs.
- (5) Actions to be taken by intervention team members.
- (6) Actions to be taken in the event unlawful absences continue.
- (7) Signature of the parent(s) or guardian(s) or evidence that attempts were made to involve the parents(s) or guardian(s).
- (8) Documentation of involvement of team members.
- (9) Guidelines for making revisions to the plan.
(D) School officials may utilize a team intervention approach. Team members may include representatives from social services, community mental health, substance abuse, and prevention, and other persons the district deems appropriate to formulate the written intervention plans.
IV. Referrals and Judicial Intervention At no time should a child ages 6 to 17 years be referred to the Family Court to be placed on an order to attend school prior to the written intervention planning being completed with the parent(s) or guardian(s) by the school. A consent order must not be used as an intervention plan from any local school or school district. Should the parent(s) or guardian(s) refuse to cooperate with the intervention planning to remedy the attendance problem, the school district has the authority to refer the student to Family Court in accordance with S.C. Code Ann. Section 59-65-50 (2004), and a report shall be filed against the parent(s) or guardian(s) with the Department of Social Services in compliance with S.C. Code Ann. Section 20-7-490(2)(c)(Supp. 2002).
South Carolina Code of State Regulations 43-274.1. At-Risk Students.
I. At-Risk Student Definition A. A student at risk of dropping out of school is any student who, because of his or her individual needs, requires temporary or ongoing intervention in order to achieve in school and to graduate with meaningful options for his or her future.
B. Students — depending on their degree of resiliency and connectedness to caring adults in the home, in the community, and/or at school — may respond differently to those things frequently cited as barriers, predictors, or indicators of being “at risk.” Therefore, educators and other responsible adults working with students should consider the whole child, who might have both short-term and long-term needs requiring intervention.
II. At-Risk Student Indicators, Predictors, and Barriers The South Carolina Education and Economic Development Act mandates the promulgation of State Board of Education regulations outlining specific objective criteria for districts to use in identifying students who may be poorly prepared for the next level of study or who are at risk of dropping out of school. The Act calls for these criteria to include diagnostic assessments for districts to use in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual students in the core academic areas. A. Poor academic performance — generally, a grade point average of 2.0 or lower on a 4.0 scale — in the core content areas is a significant predictor that districts must consider in identifying at-risk students. Careful consideration should be given to students demonstrating declining academic performance. School districts are encouraged to carefully review a variety of assessments, including the following, in diagnosing students’ academic difficulties and selecting appropriate short-term and longterm interventions:
- results of statewide assessments used for accountability purposes and other state-funded (e.g., formative) assessments,
- Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) or PLAN test results,
- district-or school-adopted CAI (computer-aided instruction) assessments,
- end-of-course examination results,
- classroom-level assessments related to the state’s academic Standard, and
- other district-approved diagnostic assessments.
B. The following are among the specific behaviors and characteristics that school districts must consider as indicators, predictors, and barriers in identifying at-risk students:
- being overage for their grade level due to retention attributable to risk factors such as a high rate of absences and truancy
III. At-Risk Student Model, Initiative, and Program Selection By the 2007-08 school year each high school of the state must implement one or more model programs approved by the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE).
Schools must select at-risk student models, initiatives, and programs that meet the needs of the at-risk populations to be served and must ensure that models, initiatives, and programs selected provide students with the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma. The SCDE will provide an implementation document that will include a tiered matrix of approved evidence-based models, initiatives, and programs to facilitate the selection process in accordance with the Education and Economic Development Act requirements for implementing evidence-based models, initiatives, and programs. The document will also contain a more extensive list of indicators, predictors, and barriers as well as one-page descriptions for each evidence-based model, initiative, and program included in the matrix.
IV. Population and Model, Initiative, and Program Identification Parameters Each high school either must implement a model, initiative, or program that is chosen from a list provided by the SCDE or must submit to the SCDE for approval a specific dropout prevention model, comprehensive initiative, or multifaceted program that it wants to use. High schools may explore and implement newly developed models with approval from the SCDE. One criterion for SCDE approval of any newly developed model will be evidence presented by the district and/or school that the model is centered in research-based dropout-prevention strategies.
A. Implementation efforts related to any model, initiative, or program (or combination of models, initiatives, and programs) must ensure that students are properly identified and provided timely, appropriate guidance and assistance and must ensure that no group is disproportionately represented.
B. When subpopulations are identified, high schools must ensure that these groups reflect the demographics of populations identified as at risk of dropping out of school.
C. When no subpopulations are identified, high schools implementing comprehensive initiatives will not have to address the disproportionate representation of any one group of students. In such cases, methods of determining the effectiveness of the at-risk initiative must be given careful consideration with regard to collecting data and preparing necessary reports.
D. Parental involvement must be part of final placement decisions in any model, initiative, or program where small groups of students are identified for services in a particular school or district.
E. The target population must reflect the demographics of the population identified in Section II, above, as being at risk of dropping out of school.
F. High schools must provide relevant data related to identifying the at-risk student population and to addressing the needs of these at-risk students as required for SCDE reports.
V. Building-Level Program Evaluation A. Evaluation Criteria All high schools must annually evaluate their dropout-prevention models, initiatives, and/or programs using, at a minimum, the following criteria:
- an identification process, including (where appropriate and based on the particular model, initiative, or program) the number of at-risk students identified and the specific risk factors identified;
- the extent of parental involvement in the school’s dropout-prevention efforts;
- the number of students served;
- a formative assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the model, initiative, and/or program; and
- a qualitative assessment of desired outcomes (see item B, immediately below).
B. Desired Outcomes Schools should establish desired outcomes or performance criteria based on the specific needs of the at-risk population identified and on the nature and structure of the particular model, initiative, and/or program they are implementing. Examples of desired outcomes among the target population include, but are not limited to, the following:
- decreased percentages of truancy, absenteeism, discipline problems, and retentions;
- increases in students’ grade point averages; and
- increased percentages of students who are on grade level and students who graduate on time. Model-, initiative-, and/or program-specific data and PowerSchoolTM data elements should be used to assess desired outcomes on the basis of specific evaluation criteria. The state’s PowerSchoolTM data management system can be used to collect, sort, and report data related to each student’s attendance record; age and grade level; gender; ethnicity; grade point average; and retention, truancy, and dropout status.
C. Teacher and/or counselor assessments may be used to provide supplemental anecdotal documentation and insights related to the effectiveness of the model, initiative, and/or program implemented. A district or school checklist may be beneficial in the evaluation process.
VI. Model, Initiative, and/or Program Evaluation and Assessment Reporting All high schools must annually provide reports requested by the SCDE that relate to the implementation and effectiveness of models, initiatives, and/or programs addressing the needs of students at risk of dropping out of school. District and school report card contents must contain information on the disciplinary climate, promotion and retention ratios, dropout ratios, dropout reduction data, and attendance data. Districts and schools must be prepared to provide accurate and relevant data to the SCDE.
South Carolina Code of State Regulations 43-279. Minimum Standard of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Enforcement Procedures to be Implemented by Local School Districts.
IV. Minimum Standard A. Behavioral Misconduct-Level I
- Behavioral misconduct is defined as those activities engaged in by student(s) which tend to impede orderly classroom procedures or instructional activities, orderly operation of the school, or the frequency or seriousness of which disturb the classroom or school. The provisions of this regulation apply not only to within-school activities, but also to student conduct on school bus transportation vehicles, and during other school-sponsored activities.
- Acts of behavioral misconduct shall include, but are not limited to:
a. Classroom tardiness;
b. Cheating on examinations or classroom assignments;
d. Abusive language between or among students;
e. Failure to comply with directives from school/district personnel or agents (to include volunteer aides or chaperones);
f. Use of forged notes or excuses;
g. Cutting class;
h. School tardiness;
i. Truancy (three consecutive unlawful absences from school or a total of five unlawful absences);
j. Possession of an electronic communication device (including, but not limited to, cell phones, tablets, computers, and iPods) inconsistent with school board policy. An electronic communication device is a device that emits an audible signal, vibrates, displays a message, image or otherwise summons or delivers a communication to the possessor;
k. Other acts of behavioral misconduct as determined and communicated by local school authorities.
The basic enforcement procedures to be followed in instances of behavioral misconduct are:
- a. Upon observation or notification and verification of acts of behavioral misconduct, the staff member shall take immediate action to rectify the misconduct. The staff member shall impose an appropriate consequence, and maintain a record of the misconduct and the consequence.
- b. If, either in the opinion of the staff member or according to local school board policy, a certain misconduct is not immediately rectifiable, the problem shall be referred to the appropriate administrator for action specified by local school board policy.
- c. The administrator shall meet with the reporting staff member, and, if necessary, the student and the parent or guardian, and impose the appropriate consequence and/or establish an intervention plan and/or behavioral contract.
- d. A complete record of the procedures shall be maintained.
Possible consequences to be applied in cases of behavioral misconduct may include, but are not limited to:
- a. Verbal reprimand;
- b. Withdrawal of privileges;
- c. Demerits;
- d. Detention (silent lunch, after school, weekends, or another time that does not interfere with the instructional day);
- e. Other consequences as approved and communicated by local school authorities.