DISTRICT OFFICEnew

Compulsory Education and South Sanpete School Attendance Policy

Approved:       9-12-07 
Revised: 12/8/20 Combined policy JE into JD

Philosophy
South Sanpete School District believes that school attendance has a direct impact on a student’s level of academic achievement. In order to make the most of one’s educational opportunity, a student must have consistent, punctual, daily attendance. Regular attendance and participation in class is essential for students to be successful and prepare themselves for the best quality of life. It is primarily the responsibility of the student to achieve daily, punctual attendance as directed by the Utah Compulsory Education Act, Utah Code 53G 6 201-209.  Parents or guardians and school officials share a responsibility to make earnest and persistent efforts to resolve attendance problems. A parent or guardian is always welcome and is encouraged to call or visit the school for current attendance and academic information regarding his/her student.

Definitions:

  1. "Absence" or "absent" means:
    the failure of a school-age child assigned to a class or class period to attend a class or class period.
  2.  "Absence" or "absent" does not mean:
    multiple tardies used to calculate an absence for the sake of a truancy.
  3. "Minor" means a person under the age of 18 years.
  4. "Parent" includes:
    1. a custodial parent of the minor;
    2. a legally appointed guardian of a minor; or
    3. any other person purporting to exercise any authority over the minor which could be exercised by a person described in Subsection (3)(a)or (b).
  5. "School day" means the portion of a day that school is in session in which a school-age child is required to be in school for purposes of receiving instruction.
  6. "School year" means the period of time designated by a local school board or charter school governing board as the school year for the school where the school-age child:
    1. is enrolled; or
    2. should be enrolled, if the school-age child is not enrolled in school.
  7. "School-age child" means a minor who:
    1. is at least six years old but younger than 18 years old; and
    2. is not emancipated.
  8. "Truant" means a condition in which a school-age child, without a valid excuse, and subject to Subsection (7)(b), is absent for at least:
    1. half of the school day for elementary schools; or
    2. half or more of one class period for secondary schools.
      1. A school-age child may not be considered truant under this part more than one time during one day.
  9. "Truant minor" means a school-age child who:
    1. is subject to the requirements of Section 53G-6-202or 53G-6-203; and
    2. is truant. Utah Code § 53G-6-201(7) (2020)
  10. "Valid excuse" means:
    1. an illness, which may be either mental or physical;
    2. a family death;
    3. an approved school activity;
    4. an absence permitted by a school-age child's:
    5. individualized education program; or
    6. Section 504 accommodation plan;
    7. an absence permitted in accordance with Subsection 53G-6-803(5); or
    8. any other excuse established as valid by a local school board, charterschool governing board, or school district.
  11. "Valid excuse" does not mean:
    a parent acknowledgment of an absence for a reason other than a reason described in Subsections (9)(a)(i) through (vi), unless specifically permitted by the local school board, charter school governing board, or school district under Subsection (9)(a)(vi).
  12. “Educational Neglect” means:
    the willful failure or refusal of parents or caretakers to make a good faith effort to ensure that a child receives an appropriate education, after receiving notice that the child has been frequently absent from school without good cause or reasons identified by school law. Examples would include a parent who consistently fails to get a child up on time, dressed, etc., so the child can get to school; a parent who keeps a child home to baby sit or to work; etc. The situation is defined as educational neglect only when the child’s behavior is under the parent’s control. This would usually involve an elementary student; with older children, the situation might be more accurately defined as truancy. In such a case, the child might refuse to get up, get dressed, etc., despite the parent’s efforts; or the child might leave the house presumably to go to school, and go elsewhere.          
  13. “Non-Judicial Referral” means:
    a referral made by the school/District directly to a local juvenile authority. A “non-judicial” referral is a referral that is handled by juvenile authorities (not a judge) and does not appear on a student’s record.
  14. “Official Referral” means:
    a referral made directly to the Sixth District Juvenile Court/Judge.
    This referral usually follows a “non-judicial” referral if attendance problems are not resolved. This referral does remain on a student’s permanent record. Utah Code § 53G-6-201(9) (2020)
  15. “Home School” means a school comprised of one or more students officially excused from compulsory public school attendance under this policy Utah Code § 53G-6-204Utah Admin. Rules R277-438-2(5) (December 8, 2016)
  16. “Private School” means a school satisfying the following criteria;
    1. maintained by private individuals or entities;
    2. maintained and operated not at public expense.
    3. generally supported, in part at least, by tuition fee or charges;
    4. operated as a substitute for, and giving the equivalent of, instruction required in public schools;
    5. employs teachers able to provide the same quality of education as public school teachers;
    6. established to operate indefinitely and independently, not dependent upon the age of the students available or upon individual family situations; and 
    7. licensed as a business by the Utah Department of Commerce.Utah Admin. Rules R277-438-2(6) (December 8, 2016)

Policy:

The purpose of this Policy is to establish consistent procedures for South Sanpete schools in informing parents about compulsory education laws, encouraging and monitoring school attendance consistent with the law, and providing consequences for noncompliance.

Notice of Compulsory Education Attendance Laws—

Prior to or no later than school registration, the parent or legal guardian of each student in grades 1-12 shall be provided written notice from the school or district informing the parents or legal guardians of Compulsory Education attendance laws, discipline or consequences progress; and opportunities to appeal a notice of truancy or disciplinary measures. This notice shall be provided with registration materials or as part of the registration process and shall also be provided at appropriate locations on the District website and school websites.

Utah Admin. Rules R277-607-4(2)(a), (b) (October 8, 2019)

Compulsory Education—

The parent of a student who is at least six (6) years of age and not more than eighteen (18) years of age, shall enroll and send his or her school-age minor to a public or regularly established private school during the school year of the district in which the student resides, unless exempted as indicated below. Attendance shall be in District schools or in some other district to which the student may legally be transferred, or in a regularly established private school. It is a class B misdemeanor for a parent to intentionally or without good cause fail to enroll a school-age minor in school, unless exempted as indicated below. The District shall report violations of this policy to the appropriate city, county, or district attorney. 

Utah Code § 53G-6-202 (2020)

Exemptions:

Students who meet one or more of the following conditions to the satisfaction of the Board shall be exempt from compulsory attendance requirements and shall be given a certificate, issued by the Board, stating that the minor is excused from attendance during the time specified on the certificate:

  1. A child over age sixteen (16) may receive a partial release from school to enter employment, or to attend a trade school, if the child has completed the eighth grade. Children receiving this exemption must still attend school part-time as required by the Board or home school.
  2. On an annual basis, a school-age child under eighteen (18) years of age may receive a full release from attending a public, regularly established private or part-time school or class if one of the following is established to the Board’s satisfaction:
    1. The child has already completed the work required for graduation from high school or has demonstrated mastery of the skills and competencies required for graduation from high school in accordance with Utah Code § 53F-2-501(1)
    2. The child is in a physical or mental condition, certified by a competent physician if required by the Board, which renders attendance inexpedient and impracticable.
    3. Proper influences and adequate opportunities for education are provided in connection with the minor’s employment.
    4. The Superintendent determines that the child, if over age sixteen (16), is unable to profit from attendance at school because of inability or a continuing negative attitude toward school regulations and discipline.
    5. The child’s parent files a signed and notarized affidavit with the child’s school district of residence that the child will attend a home school and that the parent assumes sole responsibility for the education of the school-age child except to the extent that the child is dual-enrolled in a public school. A child receiving a partial release in order to enter employment under item (1) above may be excused from attending required part-time school to attend home school part time.
    6. A parent of a child who attends a home school is solely responsible for:
      1. the selection of instructional materials and textbooks;
      2. the time, place, and method of instruction, and
      3. the evaluation of the home school instruction.
    7. A local school board may not:
      1. require a parent of a minor who attends a home school to maintain records of instruction or attendance;
      2. require credentials for individuals providing home school instruction;
      3. inspect home school facilities; or
      4. require standardized or other testing of home school students.
    8. Upon request of a parent, the District shall identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies a student is recommended to achieve by grade level and subject area to assist the parent in achieving college and career readiness through home schooling.Utah Code § 53G-6-204 (2020)

Certificate of Exemption from Public School Attendance:

When the Board excuses a child from public school attendance pursuant to an exemption other than for home schooling, the Board shall issue a certificate stating that the child is excused from attendance during the time specified on the certificate. When the Board excuses a child from attendance under the home school exemption, the Board shall annually issue a certificate excusing the child from attendance for the specified school year. The certificate shall be issued within 30 days after the initial receipt of the parent’s signed and notarized affidavit filed by the child’s parent pursuant to Subsection (2)(e) above. The Board shall issue additional certificates on or before August 1 of each year thereafter unless (1) the child enrolls in a District school, (2) the parent notifies the District that the child no longer attends a home school, or (3) the parent notifies the District that the child’s district of residence has changed. 

Utah Code § 53G-6-204 (2020)

School Efforts to Resolve Attendance Problems:

Parent(s) of all students in grades 1-12 shall be provided written notice from the school or district informing parents of Compulsory Education attendance laws and encouraging parental cooperation.

  1. A student registering in the school district during the school year shall be provided written notice explaining the school and school district’s compulsory education policy.
  2. A student moving from one school to another within the same district may be provided written notice explaining the school and school district’s compulsory education policy.Utah Admin. Rules R277-607-4 (October 8, 2019)The notice to parents shall also include a description of the appeals process for contesting a notice of truancy or contesting disciplinary action against a student under this policy.Utah Admin. Rules R277-607-4(2)(c), (3) (October 8, 2019)

The District shall make reasonable efforts to resolve the school attendance problems of its schools, including the following, as deemed reasonable by the Board or its designee in individual cases:

  1. counseling of the student by school authorities;
  2. issuing a Notice of Truancy;
  3. issuing a Notice of Compulsory Education Violation;
  4. adjusting the curriculum and schedule if determined necessary to meet special needs of the student;
  5. considering alternatives proposed by the parent or legal guardian;
  6. monitoring school attendance of the student;
  7. voluntarily participating in truancy mediation, if available;
  8. providing the student’s parent or legal guardian, upon request, a list of resources available to assist the parent or legal guardian in resolving the student’s attendance problems; and enlisting the assistance of community and law enforcement agencies as appropriate to the extent permitted under Utah Code § 53G-8-211.

This policy and related statute do not impose any civil liability on the school district or its employees. Utah Code § 53G-6-206 (2020)

 Notice of Compulsory Education Violation:

A school administrator, a designee of the school administrator, a law enforcement officer acting as a school resource officer, or a truancy specialist may only issue a notice of compulsory education violation to a parent of a student, if the student is in grade 1 through 6 and if the student is truant at least five (5) times during the school year. 

The notice of compulsory education violation shall:

  1. direct the student’s parent or legal guardian to meet with designated school authorities to discuss the student’s attendance problems and cooperate with the District to secure regular attendance by the student. This meeting shall also allow the student/parent a platform for due process at the local school level. The parent/student may also appeal the local school decision by submitting a written appeal to the Board or its designee within 10 days after the school decision was rendered.
  2. specify the school authorities with whom the parent is required to meet.
  3. state that it is a class B misdemeanor for the student’s parent or legal guardian to intentionally or recklessly fail to meet with the designated school authorities to discuss the student’s attendance problems or fail to prevent the student from being truant an additional five (5) or more times during the remainder of the school year.
  4. be served on the student’s parent or legal guardian by personal service or certified mail.

The District shall report violations of this policy to the appropriate city, county, or district attorney. Utah Code § 53G-6-202 (2020)

Penalties for Truancy:

The Board of Education may establish administrative penalties for being truant on a student who is in grade 7 or above and at least 12 years old.  This may include but not limited to in school suspension, non-judicial referral, youth court, referral to juvenile court, etc.

Utah Code § 53G-6-203(2) (2020)

Notice of Truancy:

A student is truant who is absent from school without a valid excuse.  The District may authorize school administrators, a designee of the school administrator, a law enforcement officer acting as a school resource officer, or a truancy specialist to issue a notice of truancy to any student who is at least twelve (12) years of age and in grade 7 or above and has been truant at least five (5) times during the school year

The notice of truancy shall:

  1. Identify each of the five (5) or more dates when the student was truant.
  2. direct the student and his or her parent or legal guardian to meet with the designated school authorities and cooperate with the school in securing regular attendance by the student.
  3. Allow for contesting the notice of truancy. If the student and/or his or her parent desires to contest the notice of truancy, the parent must meet with the principal or the principal’s designee to voice any concerns about the accuracy of the notice of truancy. If the parent cannot meet with the principal or the principal’s designee, he or she can submit a written review to the principal outlining the concerns about the accuracy of the notice of truancy. After reviewing the concerns, the principal shall make a determination to either revise or affirm each of the dates when the student was allegedly truant. The principal’s determination is final. The principal shall notify the parent or legal guardian of the determination. If the principal affirms the notice of truancy, the principal shall direct the parent to follow step 2 outlined above.
  4. be mailed to, or served on, the student’s parent. Utah Code § 53G-6-203 (2020)

 Habitual Truant:

A “habitual truant” is a child who is not exempted from attendance and who is at least at least twelve (12) years of age and in grade 7 or above and who either (a) has been truant at least ten (10) times during the school year or (b) fails to cooperate with school authorities’ efforts to resolve the child’s attendance problem.

Utah Code § 53G-8-211(1)(b) (2020)

A habitual truant may be referred to an evidence-based alternative intervention and if the student refuses to participate in the evidence-based alternative intervention may be referred to law enforcement or to a court if the requirements of Utah Code § 53G-8-211(5) are met.

Utah Code § 53G-8-211(3)(b), (5) (2020)

Other Actions to Resolve Attendance Problems:

Nothing in this policy shall prohibit a school from taking action to resolve a student’s attendance problems prior to five (5) absences without valid excuses, providing the action does not conflict with the requirements of these policies.  Utah Code § 53G-6-203(5) (2020)

Procedures for Monitoring Daily Attendance:

 It is the responsibility of parents to make sure their student attends school and arrives promptly every school day. If illness or other approved emergencies prevents attendance or causes tardiness, it is the parent’s/guardian’s responsibility to notify the school’s attendance secretary and properly excuse his/her student through a phone call or a signed written note which indicates the reason of the absence. The parent/guardian should notify the school preferably on the day of the absence, but no later than 3:00 pm on the day after the absence.

  1. A tardy may be excused by a parent/guardian when an emergency situation results in a student arriving late to school. Students who arrive late need to check in through the office. Tardies at the beginning of school or after lunch are considered absences and must be excused by the same process as other absences. Secondary students may not be excused for tardiness between classes unless verified through a staff member. Secondary students who are tardy or late for more than 10 minutes shall have each tardy treated as an absence. Students, who develop a pattern of habitual tardiness, will be dealt with administratively by each school and will be part of any court referrals. Individual teachers and schools are strongly encouraged to develop academic incentives for promptness as a deterrent for tardiness.  
  2.  Tardy Rationale: Tardies not only hinder a student’s ability to profit from instruction at the beginning of class, but they interrupt the teacher’s instruction and the work of other students who made the effort to be on time. In addition, tardy students are usually in the hallways interrupting other classes and the efforts of other students/friends to be to class on time. Punctual students perform better in school and at work and is a citizenship skill required by the state.
  3. Schools will take attendance a minimum of once a day.
  4. Any student who leaves school during the school day is required to check out through the office. He/she must present a note from the parent/guardian or must contact the parent/guardian at the time of check out in order for the absence to be excused. If the student does not check out through the office, the absence will automatically be a truancy. In an emergency when a parent/guardian may not be reached, a school administrator may temporarily approve the check-out, pending parental or guardian confirmation by telephone or note within 24 hours. If a student who has checked out returns later in the day, he/she needs to check-in through the office.
  5. Academic grades may be impacted by excessive absences, truancies or tardies. At the discretion of the teacher, and upon written disclosure to students and parents, participation, attendance, and punctuality may together be a factor of up 25% of the grade given in some classes; especially in activity classes: band, choir, dance, orchestra, physical education, home economics, woods, metals, mechanics, construction, etc.
  6. Every effort will be made to inform the parent/guardian of absences of their   student and to work with them in resolving attendance problems making it a mutual school/parent responsibility. However, parents are encouraged to check with teachers and secretaries regularly, attend parent conferences, and track their student’s academic progress and attendance via the internet.
  7. Each school may organize a School Attendance Appeals Committee to review excessive absences and/or truancies and provide parents and students due process. Members of this committee may be appointed by the school administration. Decisions of the School Appeals Committee may be appealed further to the School Board.  
  8. Each school may organize a “Truancy Mediation Program” to assist parents, students, and schools in resolving attendance issues.
  9. All students who are absent for any reason other than truancy will be allowed and are expected to make up assignments, tests, and other work missed in a reasonable time designated by the teacher/school. Some assignments or work missed may be of a nature that requires the student to attend a make-up session. Students may be given different make-up work than what was originally assigned at the teacher’s discretion.
  10. If a student is suspended or expelled, he/she will also be allowed to make up the classroom work that he/she missed in a manner and time determined by the teacher/school. 
  11. The individuality of each school requires a degree of flexibility within the District Attendance Policy. Therefore, the school staff and/or the School Community Council may review the school’s attendance policy annually and may recommend modifications or recommendations. However, major modifications of this Policy must be submitted in writing for approval of the School Board. Each school and/or teacher may also establish consequences and rewards related to tardiness and attendance. Reward programs must be planned so as to accommodate all students who qualify and be within District and State lawswith particular attentions to school fee requirements.
  12. According to State law, students who are absent ten consecutive days shall be dropped on the 11th day if no student and parent/guardian contact has been made. In these situations, the school and other agencies will make earnest and persistent efforts prior to the ten days to contact the student and parent/guardian to assist with the problem.
  13. The school and/or District shall make allowances for students who may have excessive absences resulting from extended medical conditions or extenuating circumstances. Absences for extended family vacations, with prior approval, may be exempted if the student can document and report the educational benefit of the trip as outlined by each school and complete all assigned work Absences such as these may be dealt with on an individual basis without penalties with prior approval of school and/or District administration. Parent/students may have an appeals opportunity regarding these decisions with the school’s Appeals Committee.
  14. The District and/or school shall make earnest and persistent efforts to resolve a student’s attendance problems through one or more the following interventions:
    1. Counseling of the student by school authorities;
    2. Enlisting parental support for attendance by the student;
    3. Meeting with the student and the parents/guardians;
    4. Adjusting the curriculum and schedule, if determined necessary, to meet special needs of the student;
    5. Sending home letters and progress reports;
    6. Requiring parents to attend classes with his/her student;
    7. Having parents monitor daily/weekly attendance;
    8. Enlisting the assistance of government agencies as appropriate;
    9. Recommendation for Truancy Mediation (if available);
    10. Submitting a “non-judicial” referral to the Juvenile Court authorities and/or DCFS;
    11. Submitting an “official” referral to Sixth District Juvenile Court/DCFS;
    12. Providing and/or requiring after school make-up time;
    13. Considering a modified schedule, course load, or alternative course options for the student.
    14. Other as deemed appropriate.

14. If after earnest and persistent efforts are made and the student’s truant   or excessive absenteeism has not been corrected, the District or designee may pursue one or more of the following:

    1. Issue a Non-Judicial Referral 
    2. Issue a Notice of Compulsory Education Violation 
    3. Issue a Notice of Truancy and 
    4. Issue a Habitual Truant Citation
    5. Refer to Juvenile Court and/or DCFS
    6. Solicit the assistance of other State agencies
    7. Use other interventions as appropriate 
15.  The school shall keep a record and document the following:

a.         Documentation of attendance and academic achievement,

b.         Documentation of school efforts to improve attendance,

c.         Copies of truancy notices (citations), including all mailing certificates,

            (1) Notice of Compulsory Education Violation

            (2) Notice of Truancy

            (3) Habitual Truant Citation

d.  Student background as required by the prosecuting agency, and

e.   Copies of truancy notices (citations) shall be retained in the student’s permanent record.

Guidelines for Excessive Absences for Secondary Students:

The South Sanpete Attendance Policy has been established to encourage good attendance and to facilitate the processing of chronically truant students and/or excessively absent students through the juvenile court, DCFS or other agencies. The District has identified excessive absenteeism as 16 days per year or significant portions of a day or class period(s). The District is committed in making a yeoman effort in resolving attendance problems with parents/students at the school level. The District/school will implement and document these earnest and persistent efforts in resolving a student’s attendance problems as listed below:

  1. Annual notification of the District and school attendance policies shall be provided to the parent/guardian(s) of all students at the time of registration.

  2. Following the 6th absence in a year or in a given class/period, the principal or designee shall make a “personal contact” with the parent/guardian(s). 
    A meeting may be held and/or a letter may be sent if deemed necessary by the circumstances. At this time, the parent/guardian and student will be counseled to the importance of school attendance and the legal implications of truancy. Part of the counsel shall also include possible interventions to improve attendance. Documentation of the date, time, and method of communication shall be kept. Also, the school or designee shall review and take into consideration the historical attendance record from the previous year of the student. This contact shall serve as a warning and indicate future consequences if the problem continues. Note: If prior arrangements for educational needs of the student were made and/or the absences were determined, by the principal or designee, to be reasonable, no parent contact, meeting or letter may be necessary.

  3. Following the 12th absence in a year or in a given class/period, the principal or designee shall make a “personal contact” and send a letter to An attendance improvement plan (contract) should be developed at this meeting. Documentation of the date, time, place, people in attendance, and the plan shall be kept by the school. The student and parent/guardian shall be informed that, if the attendance problem continues, that a “non-judicial” juvenile court referral may be issued at 16 absences. Note: If prior arrangements for educational needs of the student were made and/or the absences were determined, by the principal or designee, to be reasonable, no parent contact, meeting or letter may be necessary.

  4. Following the 16th absence in a year or in a given class/period., a letter shall be sent and the parent/student shall be notified that the student has been excessively absent/truant and a “non-judicial” referral to juvenile authorities This “non-judicial” court referral shall include.

                 A.  Documentation of attendance and academic achievement.
                 B. Documentation of school efforts/contacts/interventions/plans, dates, time etc. which have been done to improve attendance
                 C. Copies of letters, including mailing certificates
                 D. Other student background information (grades, citizenship, behavior, etc)
                   Note: If prior arrangements for educational needs of the student were made and/or the absences were determined, by the principal or designee, to be reasonable, no disciplinary action, parent
                   contact, meeting, or letter may be necessary
.
   5.  If the student’s absenteeism still continues beyond the 16thday and after the “non-judicial”juvenile court referral, the District shall then make an “official” referral to the Sixth District Juvenile Court and/or
        DCFS.
   6.  If students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or students protected under 504/ADA of the Rehabilitation Act have excessive absences and fall within the criteria of this
        rule, the student’s IEP team (IDEA) or school team (Section 504) shall ensure that the procedures of this rule apply and are followed consistently, with state and federal law and regulations.
   7.  The parent/guardian(s) shall have the right to due process and have the right to appeal circumstances in regards to excessive absences and/or truancies, or possible court referral to first the School’s Appeals
        Committee and then to the School Board. Parents/guardians have fifteencalendar days from the dated school notification (by mail or personal contact)to make an appeal.
    8.  A student’s attendance record from the previous year may be reviewed and applied to the following year for habitual attendance issues.

Truancy Specialist:
The Board may appoint and determine compensation for a truancy specialist to assist in enforcing laws related to school attendance, and to perform other duties prescribed by law or the Board. Utah Code § 53G-6-207 (2019)

 Duties and Powers:
 The truancy specialist may:

  1. Investigate all cases of unexcused absences from school.
  2. Enforce provisions of the compulsory attendance law.
  3. Keep written records of all cases of any kind investigated by the truancy specialist in the discharge of his or her duties.

Custody:

The truancy specialist or a school administrator may take a minor into temporary custody if there is reason to believe the minor is a truant minor.

Utah Code § 53G-6-208(1) (2020)

If the truancy specialist or a school administrator takes a child into custody, the truancy specialist or administrator shall, without unnecessary delay, release the child to one of the following:

  1. The Principal of the child’s school
  2. Any person designated by the Board to receive the child and return him or her to school.
  3. A designated receiving center of the District. Utah Code § 53G-6-208(2) (2020)

If a child refuses to return to school or to go to the receiving center, the officer or administrator shall, without unnecessary delay, notify the child’s parents, guardian or custodian and release the child to their custody.  If the parent, guardian or custodian cannot be reached or are unable or unwilling to accept custody, and if none of the other options in the preceding paragraph are available, the child shall be referred to the Division of Child and Family Services.Utah Code § 53G-6-208(3), (4) (2020)

Reporting to the State Board of Education—

The District shall annually report to the State Board of Education (a) the number of absences with a valid excuse and (b) the number of absences without a valid excuse.

Utah Code § 53G-6-206(6) (2020)

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