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Compulsory attendance is essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people and the continued prosperity of our society and our nation.
A person required to attend school or alternative instruction under Maine compulsory attendance law (20-A M.R.S.A. § 5001-A) is truant when an absence of ½ day or more is not excused.
A student is habitually truant if he/she is required to attend school or alternative instruction under Maine compulsory attendance law (20-A M.R.S.A. § 5001-A) and he/she:
A. 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; or
B. Is at least 7 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.
The Board of Education shall appoint one or more attendance coordinators in accordance with state law. The duties of the attendance coordinator include, but are not limited to:
A. When notified by a principal that a student’s attendance is irregular, interviewing the student and the parent(s) to determine the cause of the irregular attendance and file a written report with the principal;
B. Filing an annual report with the Superintendent summarizing school year activities, findings and recommendations regarding truants;
C. Serving as a member of the dropout prevention committee; and
D. Serving as the liaison between the school and the local law enforcement agency in matters pertaining to student absenteeism under Maine’s compulsory attendance and truancy laws (20-A M.R.S.A.§ § 5001-A, 5051-A).
As required by law, the procedure as described in Procedural Guideline JEDA-R shall be followed when a student is habitually truant.
If the Superintendent/designee is unable to correct the student’s truancy, the Superintendent/designee shall serve or cause to be served upon the parent(s) in-hand or by registered mail a written notice that the student’s attendance is required by law. The notice shall:
1. State that the student is required to attend school pursuant to 20-A M.R.S.A. §5001-A (the compulsory attendance law);
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 20-A M.R.S.A. § 5053-A and explain the possible penalties;
4. State that the Superintendent/designee may notify local law enforcement authorities of a violation of the habitual truancy statute and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as provided by 20-A M.R.S.A. § 5051-A(C) (the notice provision); and
5. Outline the plan developed to address the student’s habitual truancy and the steps that have been taken to implement that plan.
When a student is determined to be habitually truant and in violation of the compulsory attendance law and the Superintendent/designee has made a good faith attempt to meet the requirements of paragraph B of this policy, the Superintendent/designee shall notify the Board and local law enforcement authorities of the truancy. After this notification, a local law enforcement officer may transport the truant student to the appropriate school if the truant student is off school grounds during school hours and not under the supervision of school personnel.
The Superintendent shall submit an annual report regarding habitual truancy to the Commissioner by October 1. The report must identify the number of habitual truants in the school administrative unit in the preceding school year; describe the school unit’s efforts to deal with habitual truancy; account for actions brought to enforce the habitual truancy law; and include any other information on truancy requested by the Commissioner.
Legal Reference: 20-A MRSA §§ 5001-A; 5051-A-5054-A
Cross Reference: JEA – Compulsory Attendance
JEDA – Student Absenteeism Protocol
JFC – Dropout Prevention—Student Withdrawal from School
Adopted: June 12, 1978
Revised: April 14, 2008