Massachusetts School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

Discipline Compendium

Massachusetts School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

Category: Discipline Addressing Specific Code of Conduct Violations
Subcategory: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy
State: Massachusetts

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LAWS

ALM GL ch. 69, § 1N. Alternative education grant program.

(a) The department of education, hereinafter referred to as the department, shall establish a grant program, subject to appropriation, to be known as the alternative education grant program for the purpose of providing grants to assist school districts and Horace Mann and commonwealth charter schools with the development and establishment of alternative education programs and services to students suspended or expelled from school. The grants shall support the development of alternative education programs which would: (1) allow school districts to coordinate efforts to establish interdistrict regional alternative education collaboratives to provide educational services to suspended or expelled students; or (2) establish a district based alternative education program for those students. The grants may also be used to encourage the use of technology in alternative education programs. The grants shall also encourage voluntary expansion of existing alternative education programs in the commonwealth, and shall be used to provide alternative education programs for students who are at risk of educational failure due to truancy, or dropping out of school. Grants may also be used to assist in developing programs that provide a range of approaches to address behavior issues, such as behavior specialists, in-school suspension rooms and crisis centers, in addition to out-of-school alternative settings.

Programs designed under the grants shall be developed at the middle and high school levels and shall afford students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma in accordance with section 1D, and to be taught to the same academic standards and curriculum frameworks established for all students in accordance with sections 1D and 1E. The programs shall make use of existing resources in school districts, educational collaboratives, community colleges, and other agencies, service providers, and organizations. Programs shall be designed as placements that, at a minimum, educate students to the same academic standards and curriculum frameworks as taught to all students, address behavioral problems, utilize small class size, address individual needs and learning styles, provide engaging instruction and a supportive environment, and, where appropriate, utilize flexible scheduling. The programs shall also provide a comprehensive array of social services to support a student's remediation of issues that cause school failure, excessive absenteeism, truancy and school dropout. Grant recipients shall develop remediation plans for students that address both academic and behavioral issues. Grants may also be made available for in-school regular education programs that include self-improvement, behavior management and life skills training to help provide students with tools to better manage their lives and attitudes, to support programs that use family-based approaches, and to assist students and teachers during the transition of students back into regular education classrooms. [...]

(b) The department shall establish a grant program, subject to appropriation, to assist school districts with the development and establishment of in-school regular education programs and services to address within the regular education school program the educational and psycho-social needs of children whose behavior interferes with learning, particularly those who are suffering from the traumatic effects of exposure to violence. As used in this subsection, students suffering from the traumatic effects of exposure to violence shall include, but not be limited to, those exposed to abuse, family or community violence, war, homelessness or any combination thereof. The grants shall support the development of school based teams with community ties that: (1) collaborate with broadly recognized experts in the fields of trauma and family and community violence and with battered women shelters; (2) provide ongoing training to inform and train teachers, administrators, and other school personnel to understand and identify the symptoms and trauma; and (3) evaluate school policy and existing school and community programs and services to determine whether and to what extent students identified as suffering from exposure to trauma can receive effective supports and interventions that can help them to succeed in their public school programs, and where necessary be referred quickly and confidentially to appropriate services. [...]

The department of education, in consultation with the department of public health and the department of mental health, shall establish an advisory committee to assist in implementing the grant program and in assisting public schools in addressing the learning and behavior problems of students who manifest trauma-related symptoms or classroom behavior that interferes with learning. Members of the advisory committee shall include but not be limited to: 3 educators, 1 of whom shall serve as the chair, appointed by the commissioner of the department of education; 2 leaders in the field of trauma and its relationship to school learning and behavior appointed by the commissioner of the department of public health; 2 leaders in mental health with expertise in family and/or community violence appointed by the commissioner of mental health; 1 leader in battered women's services appointed by the commissioner of public health; 1 leader in the area of homelessness and its impact on children appointed by commissioner of mental health; and 3 parents, 1 each appointed by the commissioner of education, the commissioner of public health, the commissioner of mental health. The advisory committee, at its discretion, may select additional members with relevant experience including but not limited to child advocates, medical doctors and representatives of juvenile and probate court.

ALM GL ch. 69, § 1O. Truancy prevention program certification process.

The department of elementary and secondary education shall adopt regulations establishing a truancy prevention program certification process, consistent with the behavioral health and public schools framework developed pursuant to section 19 of chapter 321 of the acts of 2008, and shall require that the truancy prevention program evaluate the level of out-of-school support for students and families and address conditions that make students more likely to become truant including, but not limited to, previously unidentified or inadequately addressed special needs, bullying and harassment. Any truancy prevention program established under this section by a school district shall meet the requirements for certification adopted by the department.

ALM GL ch. 76, § 1A. Pupil absence notification programs.

Upon the acceptance of this section by the local legislative body of a city or town, or by a majority vote of two-thirds of the member communities of a regional school district, the school committee of a city, town or regional school district shall establish a pupil absence notification program in all schools under its control. Said program may be developed with the assistance of the department of education. The parents or guardians of each pupil shall, annually, at the commencement of each school year, be sent a notice instructing them to call a designated telephone number at a designated time to inform the school of the absence of a pupil and the reason therefor. Said notice shall also require such parent or guardian to furnish the school with a home, work or other emergency telephone number where they can be contacted during the school day. If a pupil is absent and the school has not been notified by the designated time, the school shall call the telephone number or numbers furnished to inquire about said absence.

ALM GL ch. 76, § 1B. Pupil absence notification program.

The school committee of each city, town or regional school district shall have a pupil absence notification program in each of its schools. The program shall be designed to ensure that each school notifies a parent or guardian of the child's absence if the school has not received notification of the absence from the parent or guardian within 3 days of the absence.

Each school committee shall have a policy of notifying the parent or guardian of a student who has at least 5 days in which the student has missed 2 or more periods unexcused in a school year or who has missed 5 or more school days unexcused in a school year. The notification policy shall require that the school principal or headmaster, or a designee, make a reasonable effort to meet with the parent or guardian of a student who has 5 or more unexcused absences to develop action steps for student attendance. The action steps shall be developed jointly and agreed upon by the school principal or headmaster, or a designee, the student and the student's parent or guardian and with input from other relevant school personnel and officials from relevant public safety, health and human service, housing and nonprofit agencies.

ALM GL ch. 76, § 16. Children excluded from school; remedies.

Any pupil who has attained age eighteen, or the parent, guardian or custodian of a pupil who has not attained said age of eighteen, who has been refused admission to or excluded from the public schools or from the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public schools shall on application be furnished by the school committee with a written statement of the reasons therefor, and thereafter, if the refusal to admit or exclusion was unlawful, such pupil may recover from the town or, in the case of such refusal or exclusion by a regional school district from the district, in tort and may examine any member of the school committee or any other officer of the town or regional school district upon interrogatories.

ALM GL ch. 76, § 18. Notice to parent or guardian and meeting with school committee prerequisite to student permanently leaving school; annual report; application of section.

No student who has not graduated from high school shall be considered to have permanently left public school unless an administrator of the school which the student last attended has sent notice within a period of 5 days from the student's tenth consecutive absence to the student and the parent or guardian of that student in both the primary language of the parent or guardian, to the extent practicable, and English. The notice shall initially offer at least 2 dates and times for an exit interview between the superintendent, or a designee, and the student and the parent or guardian of the student to occur prior to the student permanently leaving school and shall include contact information for scheduling the exit interview. The notice shall indicate that the parties shall agree upon a date and time for the exit interview, and that interview shall occur within 10 days after the sending of the notice. The time for the exit interview may be extended at the request of the parent or guardian and no extension shall be for longer than 14 days. The superintendent, or a designee, may proceed with any such interview without a parent or guardian if the superintendent, or a designee, makes a good faith effort to include the parent or guardian. The exit interview shall be for the purpose of discussing the reasons for the student permanently leaving school and to consider alternative education or other placements.

The superintendent or a designee shall convene a team of school personnel, such as the principal, guidance counselor, teachers, attendance officer and other relevant school staff, to participate in the exit interview with the student and the parent or guardian of the student. During the exit interview, the student shall be given information about the detrimental effects of early withdrawal from school, the benefits of earning a high school diploma and the alternative education programs and services available to the student.

The department of elementary and secondary education shall: (i) publish a model protocol for conducting exit interviews with students; and (ii) compile and maintain a list of research and information relative to the consequences of dropping out, the benefits of earning a high school diploma and a list of alternative education resources and programs available to the student, in addition to those that the district may provide, that schools shall present at the exit interview.

The superintendent of every city, town or regional school district shall annually report to the department of education the number of students sixteen years of age or older who have permanently left school, the reasons for such leaving and any alternative educational or other placement which each such student has taken.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to a student who has completed the regular course of education, or apply to a student whose absences have been excused, nor shall this section be construed to permanently exclude a student who wishes to resume his education.

ALM GL ch. 76, § 19. Supervisors of attendance; employment.

Every school committee shall appoint, make regulations governing and fix the compensation of one or more supervisors of attendance, who may be either male or female, and who shall meet such standards of qualifications for such work as shall be established by the department of education; provided, that such supervisors shall have attained the age of twenty-one years. The committees of two or more towns may employ the same supervisors of attendance.

ALM GL ch. 76, § 20. Powers and duties of supervisors of attendance.

Supervisors of attendance shall inquire into all cases arising under sections two and eight of chapter seventy-two, sections one, two, four to eleven, inclusive, and fifteen of chapter seventy-six, and sections ninety, ninety-two, ninety-three, and ninety-five of chapter one hundred and forty-nine, and may apply for petitions under the provisions of section thirty-nine E of chapter one hundred and nineteen. They shall, if the court so orders, have oversight of children placed on probation; of minors licensed by the school committee under section nineteen of chapter one hundred and one; and of children admitted to or attending shows or entertainments in violation of section one hundred and ninety-seven of chapter one hundred and forty. They may apprehend and take to school without a warrant any truant or absentee found wandering in the streets or public places.

REGULATIONS

No relevant regulations found.

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