The Axis I Center of Barnwell coordinates Truancy Services for Barnwell School District #19. The Axis I Center Truancy Officer collaborates with the Barnwell School District #19 Attendance Clerks to monitor student school attendance. Attendance is critical for a student‘s academic success. The school and the Axis I Center of Barnwell’s Truancy Officer are responsible for working with each student and his/her family to encourage excellent school attendance.
South Carolina law requires regular school attendance for every child who is at least five years old on or before the first day of September of a particular school year, until the child turns 17 years old. There are several, limited exceptions to this requirement which are listed in S.C. Code Ann. §59-65-30. Parents are primarily responsible for ensuring that their child attends school regularly, and they face statutory penalties if they neglect that responsibility.
When is a student considered truant?
• Students are considered truant with three consecutive or five total unexcused absences.
If my child is absent from school, what documentation must I turn into the school?
• If your child is absent or does not see the doctor, the parent should send a parent note stating the reason the student was absent.
• If a child misses school for a medical or dental appointment; the parent must request/get a doctor’s excuse.
What happens when the school determines that a student is truant?
If the parent does not provide lawful excuses and the student accumulates three (3) consecutive or five (5) or more unlawful absences, the student is referred to the Axis I Center of Barnwell Truancy Officer.
• When students have unexcused days, the school attendance clerk will contact the parent to discuss the student’s absences. If the parent cannot provide parent or medical notes for the absences, the parent will be scheduled a time to meet with the attendance clerk and Truancy Officer to develop an Intervention Plan. The parent(s), student, school attendance clerk, and the Truancy Officer may participate in the development of the Intervention Plan. The purpose of the Intervention Plan is to identify the reason(s) for a student’s truancy, to identify / remove any barriers that may be preventing the student from attending school, and to put into place action steps to be taken by the student, parent, attendance clerk, and the Truancy Officer to improve the student’s future attendance.
• If a student continues to have unexcused absences after the development of the Intervention Plan, the parent/student can be referred to Alternative School and or Family Court.
• Parents of truant students between the ages of six (6) to eleven (11) years of age will be the person named in the Court Order of Attendance and if ordered to Family Court.
• Parents convicted of educational neglect and placed under a Court Oder of Attendance and do not comply with the Court Order can be ordered by the Family Court Judge to pay $50 for each unexcused absence and / or imprisoned for up to 30 days for each unexcused absence.
• Students between twelve (12) and seventeen (17) years of age may be prosecuted for truancy in Family Court.
• If the Family Court judge places a truant student under a Court Order of Attendance; the court order will remain in effect until the child reaches the age 17.
• If the Court Order of Attendance is violated; the truant student may be placed in a Department of Juvenile Justice facility for 30-90 days for an evaluation.
For more information on the Truancy Program, contact Pam Rush at 541-1245, ext. 247.
Additional Resources on Truancy: Children’s law Office, 1-803-777-1646 or http://childlaw.sc.edu.
South Carolina Law Regarding Truancy
SECTION 59-65-10: Responsibility of parent or guardian; notification by school district of availability of kindergarten; transportation for kindergarten pupils.
All parents or guardians shall cause their children or wards to attend regularly a public or private school or kindergarten of this State which has been approved by the State Board of Education or a member school of the South Carolina Independent Schools’ Association or some similar organization, or a parochial, denominational, or church-related school, or other programs which have been approved by the State Board of Education from the school year in which the child or ward is five years of age before September first until the child or ward attains his seventeenth birthday or graduates from high school.
SECTION 59-65-20: Penalty for failure to enroll or cause child to attend school.
Any parent or guardian who neglects to enroll his child or ward or refuses to make such child or ward attend school shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than fifty dollars or be imprisoned not more than thirty days; each day’s absence shall constitute a separate offense; provided, the court may in its discretion suspend the sentence of anyone convicted of the provisions of this article.
SECTION 59-65-70: Court empowered to declare child delinquent.
If the court determines that the reported absence occurred without the knowledge, consent or connivance of the responsible parent or guardian or that a bona fide attempt has been made to control and keep the child in school, the court may declare such child to be a delinquent and subject to the provisions of law in such cases.
Truancy: The act or habit of staying away from school without permission. A student is considered to be truant when he/she accumulates five (5) or more unlawful absences. When the student accumulates three (3) absences, the school Attendance Clerk will send home a letter to the parent requesting that they bring to the school any lawful excuses (which may include medical excuses from a doctor).
If the parent does not provide lawful excuses and the student accumulates five (5) or more unlawful absences, the student is referred to the Axis I Center of Barnwell Truancy Officer. The Truancy Officer will contact the parent to set an appointment for an Intervention Meeting.
The Intervention Plan Meeting is a meeting with the parent, student, and Truancy Officer to discuss the student’s attendance and document any reasons why a student is missing school. The purpose of the Student Attendance Intervention Plan is to identify the reason(s) for a student’s truancy, document the previous steps taken by the school to address the student’s truancy problem, and develop the plans necessary to improve the student’s future attendance.
Lawful absences include but are not limited to:
• Absences caused by a student’s own illness and whose attendance in school would endanger his or her health or the health of others.
• Absences due to an illness or death in the student’s immediate family.
• Absences due to a recognized religious holiday of the student’s faith.
• Absences due to activities that are approved in advance by the principal.
Unlawful absences include but are not limited to:
• Absences of a student without the knowledge of his or her parents.
• Absences of a student without acceptable cause with the knowledge of his or her parent.
*Suspension is not to be counted as an unlawful absence for truancy purposes.