Pennsylvania’s New Truancy Law:
How it effects your student at South
Regular attendance is important. Students can’t learn if they are not in school. We want to see all students succeed. By working together, we can ensure every child finds success with us. This information is provided as a resource to parents to explain the Pennsylvania school attendance law and its intent to encourage home, school, and student cooperation.
In 2016, a new truancy law went into effect in Pennsylvania. Here is an overview of key provisions.
Purpose of the new law:
The law expressly states that its purpose is to improve school attendance and deter truancy through a “comprehensive approach to consistently identify and address attendance issues as early as possible through credible interventions” that:
- Preserve the unity of the family whenever possible.
- Avoid the loss of housing, the possible entry of a child to foster care, and other unintended consequences of disruption of an intact family unit.
- Confine a parent or guardian of a child who is habitually truant only as a last resort.
Definition of “truancy.”
The new law defines “truancy” as “three (3) or more school days of unexcused absence during the current school year by a child subject to the compulsory school attendance law.”
Definition of “habitually truancy.”
The new law defines “habitual truancy” as “six (6) or more school days of unexcused absences during the current school year by a child subject to the compulsory school attendance law.”
What happens when my student is truant?
The new law creates two distinct “procedural” sections: (1) procedures schools must follow when a child is “truant” and (2) procedures schools must follow when a child is “habitually truant.”
The law expressly requires schools to notify parents or guardians in writing within ten (10) school days of the child’s third unexcused absence that the child has been truant (3 or more unexcused absences).
- Must include a description of the consequences if the child becomes “habitually truant.”
- Must be in the mode and language of communication preferred by the parent; and
- May include the offer of an attendance improvement conference.
If the child continues to incur additional absences after this notice has issued, the school must offer student attendance improvement conference.
What happens when my student is “habitually” truant (6 or more unexcused absences)?
The procedure schools must follow when a child is habitually truant depends on whether the child is fifteen (15) years of age or older.
Under fifteen (15) years of age.
The school must refer the child to either: (1) a school-based or community-based attendance improvement program or (2) the county children and youth agency (CYS) for services or possible disposition as a dependent child under the Juvenile Act. Additionally, the school may file a citation against the parent of a habitually truant child under fifteen (15) in a magisterial district court.
Fifteen (15) years of age and older.
The school must either: (1) refer the child to a school-based or community-based attendance improvement program or (2) file a citation against the student or parent in a magisterial district court. If the child incurs additional absences after a school refers that child to an attendance improvement program or refuses to participate in an attendance improvement program, the school may refer the child to the local CYS agency for possible disposition as a dependent child.
Follow the link below to access the district’s web based policies. Select “200 Pupils” and then “204 Attendance”.