Education Laws in Georgia: Truancy LawsWritten on May 7, 2014
Any parent with school age children has heard their child say the dreaded words: “I don’t feel good.” Whether it’s a stomach ache, cold, fever or head ache, the phrase is usually followed by a request to stay home from school.
When a child is sick, they should stay home from school in order to get better and not spread an illness around the classroom. But what happens when an absence is unexcused? Or a child begins to skip school on a regular basis? An excused absence is generally due to an illness. A school district may require a doctor’s note to confirm if an absence is excused or not. An unexcused absence is missing school without a valid reason.
Georgia law requires attendance for children between the ages of six and sixteen. A child must be enrolled in public, private or a home school program. Each school district has an attendance policy and participates in a student attendance protocol committee. In Cobb County, for instance, after three unexcused absences a teacher will call the child’s parents. After 15 total absences, with seven unexcused, the student is referred to the school social worker. There are exceptions to these rules. A child in foster care or a student who is absent in order to visit with a parent in the military prior to deployment are two examples cited in state attendance rules.
When unexcused absences began to accumulate, the word truancy becomes part of the conversation. What happens when a child has excessive absences? When phone calls, letters sent home and meetings at the school regarding attendance don’t remedy the situation, a parent can be charged with a misdemeanor because their child isn’t going to school.
If convicted, the parent may be fined up to $100, sent to jail for up to 30 days, ordered to perform community service or any combination of these punishments. If referred by the school system, truancy proceedings can begin after five unexcused absences. It’s not just the parents that may end up in hot water. The student could be charged in juvenile court or face other discipline.
Everyone would agree that attendance in school is important, but sometimes things happen beyond a parent’s control. If you are concerned about your child’s attendance and have been threatened with criminal prosecution by a school representative, seek legal counsel immediately. The attorneys at The Silverbach Group, LLC will protect the interests of your family and protect your rights every step of the way. You can reach us at 770-635-0334.