State law encourages or requires districts to address truancy or chronic absenteeism through the provision of comprehensive student support services.
Code of Virginia § 22.1-258. Appointment of attendance officers; notification when pupil fails to report to school; plan; conference; court proceedings.
Every school board shall have power to appoint one or more attendance officers, who shall be charged with the enforcement of the provisions of this article. Where no attendance officer is appointed by the school board, the division superintendent or his designee shall act as attendance officer.
Whenever any pupil fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, a reasonable effort to notify by telephone the parent to obtain an explanation for the pupil's absence shall be made by either the school principal or his designee, the attendance officer, other school personnel, or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose. Any such volunteers shall not be liable for any civil damages for any acts or omissions resulting from making such reasonable efforts to notify parents and obtain such explanation when such acts or omissions are taken in good faith, unless such acts or omissions were the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. This subsection shall not be construed to limit, withdraw, or overturn any defense or immunity already existing in statutory or common law or to affect any claim occurring prior to the effective date of this law. School divisions are encouraged to use noninstructional personnel for this notice.
Whenever any pupil fails to report to school for a total of five scheduled school days for the school year and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, and a reasonable effort to notify the parent has failed, the school principal or his designee or the attendance officer shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that direct contact is made with the parent, either in person or through telephone conversation, to obtain an explanation for the pupil's absence and to explain to the parent the consequences of continued nonattendance. The school principal or his designee or the attendance officer, the pupil, and the pupil's parent shall jointly develop a plan to resolve the pupil's nonattendance. Such plan shall include documentation of the reasons for the pupil's nonattendance.
If the pupil is absent an additional day after direct contact with the pupil's parent and the attendance officer has received no indication that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, either the school principal or his designee or the attendance officer shall schedule a conference within 10 school days with the pupil, his parent, and school personnel, which conference may include other community service providers, to resolve issues related to the pupil's nonattendance. The conference shall be held no later than 15 school days after the sixth absence. Upon the next absence by such pupil without indication to the attendance officer that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's abse...
Virginia Administrative Code 8VAC20-730-10. Definitions.
"Multi-disciplinary team" means a school-based team that may be convened to review student records and to participate in prevention, early intervention, and provision of support services to address unexcused absences, including school-based case management. These services should address academic, social, emotional, and familial issues in order to improve regular school attendance. Team members may include, but are not limited to, the following: an administrator, school counselor, social worker or psychologist, student assistance specialist, special education and regular education teacher, and attendance officer.
Virginia Administrative Code 8VAC20-730-20. Unexcused Absences Intervention Process and Responsibilities.
A. Each local school board shall provide guidance regarding what would constitute an excused absence in order to address when the explanation provided by the parent will be determined to be reasonable and acceptable.
B. Each local school board shall develop procedures to ensure that appropriate interventions will be implemented when a student engages in a pattern of absences less than a full day, the explanation for which, if it were a full-day absence, would not be deemed an excused absence.
C. The following intervention steps shall be implemented to respond to unexcused absences from school and to engage students in regular school attendance.
- Whenever a student fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no information has been received by school personnel that the student's parent is aware of and supports the absence, the school principal or designee, attendance officer, or other school personnel or volunteer will notify the parent by phone or email or any other electronic means to obtain an explanation. The school staff shall record the student's absence for each day as "excused" or "unexcused." Early intervention with the student and parent or parents shall take place for repeated unexcused absences.
- When a student has received five unexcused absences, the school principal or designee or the attendance officer shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that direct contact is made with the parent. The parent shall be contacted in a face-to-face conference, by telephone, or through the use of other communication devices. During the direct contact with the parent and the student (if appropriate), reasons for nonattendance shall be documented and the consequences of nonattendance explained. An attendance plan shall be made with the student and parent or parents to resolve the nonattendance issues. The student and parent may be referred to a school-based multi-disciplinary team for assistance implementing the attendance plan and case management.
- The school principal or designee or the attendance officer shall schedule a face-to-face attendance conference, or an interaction that is conducted through the use of communication technology, within 10 school days from the date of the student's sixth unexcused absence for the school year. The attendance conference must be held within 15 school days from the date of the sixth unexcused absence. The conference shall include the parent, student, and school personnel (which may be a representative or representatives from the multi-disciplinary team) and may include community service providers.
- The school principal or designee shall notify the attendance officer or division superintendent of the student's seventh unexcused absence for the school year. The division superintendent or designee shall contact the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court intake to file a complaint alleging the student is a child in need of supervision (CHINSup) or to institute proceedings against the parent. In addition to documentation of compliance with the notice provisions of § 22.1-258 of the Code of Virginia, all records of intervention regarding the student's unexcused absences, such as copies of the conference meeting notes, attendance plan, and supports shall be presented to the intake worker.
D. A record shall be maintained of each meeting that includes the attendance plan, the name of individuals in attendance at each conference meeting (including via telephone or electronic devices), the location and date of the conference, a summary of what occurred, and follow-up steps.
Virginia Administrative Code 8VAC20-730-30. Data Collection and Reporting.
Data collection shall begin on the first day students attend for the school year.Each school division shall provide student level attendance data for each student that includes the number of unexcused absences in a manner prescribed by the Virginia Department of Education. A student's attendance is cumulative and begins on the first official day of the school year or the first day the student is officially enrolled. All nonattendance days are cumulative and begin with the first absence. For purposes of this data collection, truancy shall start with the first unexcused absence and will be cumulative.
Excused and unexcused absences shall be counted for each individual student and shall be reported to the Virginia Department of Education as follows:
- All excused and unexcused absences as defined in this chapter for each individual student shall be collected.
- For each student with five unexcused absences, whether an attendance plan was developed, and if not, the reason.
- For each student with six unexcused absences, whether an attendance conference was scheduled, and if not, the reason.
- For each student with six unexcused absences, whether an attendance conference was actually held, and if not, the reason.
- For each student with seven unexcused absences, whether a court referral was made or if proceedings against the parent or parents were initiated and, if not, the reason.