Northern Mariana Islands School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

Discipline Compendium

Northern Mariana Islands School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

Category: Discipline Addressing Specific Code of Conduct Violations
Subcategory: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy
State: Northern Mariana Islands

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§ 1131. Elementary, middle, and secondary schools.

Every person between the ages of five (5) and seventeen (17) shall attend a public school or non-public school or until the completion of the twelfth (12th) grade or upon meeting the high school graduation requirements. Any parent, guardian, or other person having the responsibility for the care of a child, whose attendance at school is obligatory, shall enroll their child in school. The Commissioner may grant individual waivers to this compulsory attendance requirement in cases of approved home study or for other circumstances in accordance with the law.

§ 5161. Truancy.

(a) Any juvenile subject to compulsory education pursuant to 3 CMC § 1141 who has not been granted a waiver from the Commissioner of Education and who is absent without valid excuse for (1) five days in one semester under block scheduling; or (2) ten days in one semester for schools without block scheduling is truant, except as otherwise provided in this section.

(b) Block schedules, semesters and valid excused absences under this section shall be interpreted in accordance with Board of Education and Public School System rules, regulations, policies and procedures.

(c) School ordered suspensions and expulsions shall not be considered when determining truancy pursuant to this section.

(d) Violation of this section may be punishable by a fine, not to exceed $500.

(e) Truancy is a status offense that is not punishable by detention unless the juvenile is a habitual status offender.

§ 5163. School attendance–Jurisdiction over students and parents.

Committee. The School Attendance Review Committee shall include, but need not be limited to, a parent of a school age child and representatives of:

(1) the Public School System;

(2) the Coalition of Private Schools, CNMI or any successor organization recognized by the Board of Education;

(3) the Juvenile Probation Unit of DYS;

(4) the Child Protective Unit of DYS; and

(5) the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The Public School System representative shall be appointed by the Commissioner of Education. All other members shall be appointed by the Board of Education with the input and consent of the representative agencies. Every effort shall be made to ensure members of the School Attendance Review Committee shall be individuals whose primary job responsibilities are working directly with students or juvenile clients.

(b) It is the intent of this section to provide intervention for juveniles and their families to address truancy, irregular attendance or insubordinate or disorderly behavior in school at the community level before referral to the juvenile justice system. The School Attendance Review Committee's duties shall include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) proposing, promoting and providing alternatives to the juvenile justice system, where possible;

(2) addressing matters regarding an individual juvenile's truancy, failure to regularly attend school in accordance with school policies and regulations, or insubordinate or disorderly behavior;

(3) setting and conducting meetings with juveniles and/or their parents to discuss consequences of the student's truancy and/or behavior and establish terms, conditions and options to reduce and eliminate the truancy of the student and improve his or her attendance. The meeting format shall be that of mediation and not adversarial; and

(4) referring juveniles and their families to other agencies, such as Community Guidance Center, DYS, DPS and the Attorney General's Office for services or action, as appropriate.

(c) The Board of Education may adopt such policies, procedures, rules and regulations, not inconsistent with this chapter, that may be needed for the operation of the School Attendance Review Committee and to fulfill its obligations pursuant to this section.

(d) The School Attendance Review Committee shall strive to maintain a continuing inventory of community resources, including alternative educational programs, and make recommendations for the creation of new resources and programs where none exist.

(e) In every case in which a juvenile has been referred to it, the School Attendance Review Committee has the authority to issue subpoenas pursuant to the procedures provided in 1 CMC § 9109(d), requiring the production of pertinent information and documents and/or the attendance of any of the following persons:

(1) The juvenile;

(2) The juvenile's parents, guardians, or other person having control of the juvenile;

(3) The school authority referring the juvenile; and

(4) Any other person who has pertinent or material information concerning the juvenile. The purpose of any meeting under this section is to establish and agree upon terms, conditions and options to reduce and eliminate the truancy of the student. The meeting format shall be that of mediation and not adversarial.

(f) The enforcement of a subpoena issued by a School Attendance Review Committee is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

(g) In the event a juvenile, parent, guardian and/or person in charge of the juvenile fails to respond to the directives of the School Attendance Review Committee, or to services offered on behalf of the juvenile or the Committee determines that available community resources cannot resolve the problems with the juvenile's school attendance or behavior, the Committee shall direct that the juvenile be referred to the Juvenile Probation Unit and request that the Office of the Attorney General file a complaint against the juvenile, parent, guardian, and/or other person having control of the juvenile.

(h) Whenever a committee member appointed by an agency is unavailable to participate in the School Attendance Review Committee, that member's agency may assign personnel to represent the agency either temporarily or on a continuing basis in accordance with the intent of this section. The duties, obligations, or responsibilities which may be imposed on governmental entities by this section are such that the related costs are incurred as a part of their normal operating procedures.

(i) Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with the juvenile's school's authority to establish truancy procedures and to determine whether or not a matter should be referred to the Review Committee or to the Department of Public Safety or the Office of the Attorney General.

(j) Nothing in this section alters any policy or regulation of the Board of Education or the authority of any school or the Commissioner of Education to take appropriate corrective measures, including without limitation suspension or expulsion of the juvenile.


§ 60-20-115. Powers and duties.

(a) The Board is the governing and policy-making body of the Department of Education. The Board establishes policy, and the Department of Education implements policy and administers programs, which shall include but are not limited to the following:

(1) Education in public schools

(2) Adult education

(3) Vocational training, including on-the-job training

(4) Bilingual and bicultural education programs

(5) Supervision of all educational programs funded in whole or in part by the Department of Education

(6) Special cultural programs and seminars

(7) Enforcement of standards of attendance and laws pertaining to compulsory attendance

(8) The licensing or certification of teachers and teacher aides

(9) The performance of any and all other duties required or permitted by law.

(b) In addition to those powers and duties provided for elsewhere in this chapter, and without limitation of the generality of subsection (a), above, the Board of Education shall have the following specific powers and duties:

(1) To establish and maintain schools and classes to meet the needs of pupils of the Northern Mariana Islands in grades one through twelve, and such adult classes as it deems necessary

(2) To adopt textbooks and courses of study consistent with the needs of students upon the recommendations of the professional staff through the Superintendent of Education

(3) To require proper accounting for receipts and expenditures and to provide for an annual audit as required by law

(4) To authorize the expenditure of funds of the Department of Education

(5) To determine the building needs of the school system, provide for the construction of school buildings and approve the plans for the buildings

(6) To establish the certification standards for all professional positions within the Department

(7) To develop long-range plans for the orderly growth of the school system

(8) To appraise and review its policies and actions and the program of education and the performance of the staff

(9) To ratify administrative procedures promulgated by the Superintendent for the purpose of implementing Board policy.

§ 60-20-420. Student Attendance.

(a) Excused absence is absence necessitated because of illness or death in the family, or absence with the written approval of parent/guardian when such approval is not inconsistent with the academic needs of the student as determined by the principal.

(b) Unexcused absences are those which are not excused. They may generally be categorized as being of such a nature that prudence would have avoided or precluded the absence. Suspensions and expulsions are considered unexcused absences.

(c) All students who participate in sanctioned school activities that remove the student from regular classroom attendance shall be considered as present. Sanctioned activities must have an educational purpose and students must make up any lesson or assignment missed as a result of such activity. Educational purposes include the discovery and understanding of life skills, community awareness, cultural diversity, language development, natural resources, social structures, political systems, historical perspectives and character development.

(d) School principals/designees have the authority to make determination of whether or not an absence will be considered excused or unexcused.

(e) Student Absences

(1) Secondary school students (grades 6-12) who incur thirteen or more unexcused absences in a course during one semester shall be considered excessively absent and shall not receive a passing grade for that course for that semester. Students under block scheduling who incur seven or more unexcused absences during a term shall be considered excessively absent and shall not receive a passing grade for that course during that term.

(2) Secondary students who do not receive a passing grade for a semester as a result of excessive absences shall receive a "no credit" (NC or 0.00) on their academic record, irrespective of the grade the student would have received before the excessive absences. The course must be repeated and the no credit may be deleted only upon successful completion of the repeated course.

(3) Elementary school students with 25 or more absences in a school year will not receive credit and will not be promoted, unless an exemption is granted by the Commissioner.

(f) Tardiness

(1) The term tardy is defined as being late to school, class or an activity with or without permission of parent/guardian. A student is considered tardy if he/she arrives after the designated time of the class or activity, regardless of how late the student is.

(2) A student who misses more than half of a class or activity shall be considered absent for the entire class or activity.

(3) For secondary school students, every third unexcused tardy shall be considered one unexcused absence within the term/semester the tardies occurred.

(4) For elementary school students, every third unexcused tardy of 10 minutes or greater shall be considered one unexcused absence within the term/semester the tardies occurred.

(g) Counseling for Absenteeism and Tardiness Problems

The teacher should counsel those students who are developing a pattern of being absent and/or tardy. The teacher will refer to a school administrator specifically designated by the school principal to handle such problems, those students who, in the teacher's judgment, are not making progress toward correcting the problem.

(1) Upon the first referral by a teacher, the administrator should attempt to determine the nature of the problem, inform the student and the student's parent/guardian of the absence and tardy policy and regulation.

(2) The teacher must refer the student to a school administrator and a parent conference must be held to discuss the problem and to explain the Board regulations and any appropriate discipline alternatives under the following circumstances:

(i) Under block scheduling, after the third unexcused absence or sixth tardy in a quarter.

(ii) For secondary schools without block scheduling, after the sixth tardy or sixth unexcused absence in a semester.

(iii) For elementary schools, after the sixth tardy in a semester or the sixth unexcused absence in a semester.

(3) In addition to counseling after teacher referrals, principals shall require doctor's excuses for absences in the following circumstances, unless a waiver for the absence is obtained from the school principal:

(i) Under block scheduling, a doctor's excuse will be required for any absence after the third in a term.

(ii) For secondary schools without block scheduling, a doctor's excuse will be required for any absence after the sixth in a semester.

(iii) For elementary schools, a doctor's excuse will be required for any absence after the sixth in a semester.

(h) Absenteeism and/or tardiness problems for special education students must be referred to the student's IEP team to address the problem and discuss any appropriate learning and/or disciplinary alternatives.

§ 60-20-426. Truancy and educational neglect procedures.

(a) Truancy

(1) The principal upon receiving a report from a teacher that a student has accumulated two unexplained absence shall immediately provide counseling to the truant student and promptly issue a truancy report to the student's parent/guardian with a copy provided to the Commissioner of Education. The report shall include recommendation(s) by the school prescribing corrective measures for parent/guardian and student. Any repeated truancy by the student shall be reported to the Division of Youth Services, Community and Cultural Affairs Offices for counseling and other necessary actions, and parent-teacher conferences may also be held.

(2) The Division of Youth Services shall have access to student records with or without prior parent/guardian approval as stated in § 60-20-428. However, such privilege is limited only to the particular caseworker and/or counselor assigned to the case.

(3) All communication with a student's parent/guardian and student contact and reports from referral agencies must be accurately recorded in writing and filed in the student's cumulative folder.

(b) Educational Neglect

(1) Commonwealth law requires that any parent, guardian or other person responsible for a child between the age of six and sixteen shall send the child to a public or nonpublic* unless the Commissioner of Education grants a waiver. 3 CMC § 1141.

(2) Educational neglect may be defined as when a person who is responsible for a child six through sixteen who through willful or negligent act or omission fails to provide the child with adequate supervision to ensure attendance at school. Individuals who commit educational neglect are subject to criminal prosecution in accordance with the law.

(3) School employees who suspect that a child is subject to educational neglect shall report this as soon as possible to the principal/designee.

(4) The principal/designee shall review the report and confer with the parent/guardian to resolve the situation. When appropriate, a school counselor, social worker, or nurse may be instructed to offer any appropriate social or health services.

(5) If appropriate school intervention does not correct the student's truancy, and reasonable cause for educational neglect has been determined, the principal/ designee shall call the Division of Youth Services and report the alleged child educational neglect. A report of this call shall be forwarded to the Commissioner and carbon copied to PSS legal counsel.

§ 60-20-446. Offense categories.

The offense categories set out in this section are intended to be illustrative but not an exclusive listing of acts of misconduct and the consequences for each. Misconduct that is not specifically listed in this section may be deemed to warrant discipline up to and including expulsion following provision of all due process procedures. In addition, the disciplinary consequence listed for each offense may be increased or decreased by the administration or the Board due to mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

(a) Category I _ Examples of offenses which may result in suspension:

(1) Academic dishonesty (cheating on tests, copying term papers, forging signature of teacher or parent);

(2) Disrespect to teacher/staff;

(3) Gambling;

(4) Harassment, including, but not limited to, nuisance phone calls to students or staff members; continued comments or passing unofficial notes to another individual who wishes not to hear or receive the notes;

(5) Igniting matches (when not part of the instructional program);

(6) Refusing to cooperate with school transportation regulations;

(7) Refusing to cooperate with school rules and regulations;

(8) Refusing to serve detention;

(9) Tardiness (class/classes);

(10) Tardiness (school day);

(11) Truancy (class/classes);

(12) Truancy (school day);

(13) Possession and/or use of tobacco or cigarette rolling papers;

(14) Possession and/or distribution of drug paraphernalia;

(15) Excessive foul or abusive language;

(16) Possession and/or distribution of pornography;

(17) Failure to assume responsibility for, or to control his/her behavior.

(b) Category II _ Examples of offenses for which the student will normally be suspended and which may result in expulsion and referral to law enforcement:

(1) Assualt on a student;

(2) Chronic disruption of the school program and/or activities;

(3) Bullying:

(i) Physical–includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching, and pushing, or damaging property;

(ii) Verbal–includes name calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse;

(iii) Social–includes:

(A) Lying and spreading rumors;

(B) Negative facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks;

(C) Playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate;

(D) Mimicking unkindly;

(E) Encouraging others to socially exclude another;

(F) Damaging someone's social reputation or social acceptance.

(iv) Cyber–includes:

(A) Abusive or hurtful texts, emails or posts, images or videos;

(B) Deliberately excluding others online;

(C) Nasty gossip or rumors;

(D) Identity theft: imitating others online or accessing their content.

(4) Possession and/or use of electronic devices are prohibited without prior and written approval from the school principal;

(5) Destruction and vandalism of school property, personal property of students and/or faculty;

(6) Receipt, sale, possession, or distribution of property stolen from CNMI Public School System valued less than $300;

(7) Distribution, attempt to distribute, or possession with intent to distribute a non-controlled substance upon the representation that the substance is a controlled substance;

(8) Extortion less than $300;

(9) False fire alarm/false fire report;

(10) Harrasment for any reason including, but not limited to, sex, sexual orientation, color, race, religion, national origin, and disability;

(11) Indecent exposure;

(12) Participating in, or inciting, a school disruption;

(13) Possession and/or detonation of an incendiary or explosive material and/or device (firecracker or greater);

(14) Possession, use, or distribution of controlled substance-related paraphernalia (other than betel nut or cigarette rolling papers (see category I));

(15) Theft and/or knowingly possessing stolen property;

(16) Trespassing on school property;

(17) Possession and/or use of tobacco or cigratte rolling paper, repeated offense;

(18) Posession and/or use of betel nut (pugua) and/or betel nut paraphernalia, repeated offense;

(19) Fighting;

(20) Conspiracy involving two or more persons to commit a category II offense;

(21) Arson;

(22) Conspiracy between two or more persons to commit a category III offense;

(23) Destruction and/or vandalism of school property, personal property of students and/or faculty valued at more than $300;

(24) Receiving, selling, possessing, or distributing property stolen from the CNMI Public School System valued at $300 or more;

(25) Distribution and/or sale of alcohol;

(26) Distribution and/or sale of controlled substances (illegal drugs), excluding betel nut;

(27) Possession or use of a weapon or look alike weapon of any kind (other than a firearm) including, but not limited to, knives, throwing star, straight razor, nunchaku, spiked glove, spiked wristband, or any mace, tear gas, or pepper-spray derivative. Mace, tear gas, and peper-spray derivatives may be carried with prior, written approval from the Commissioner of Education;

(28) Extortion of $300 or more;

(29) Possession of alcohol;

(30) Possession of illegal drugs, including betel nut;

(31) Prescription violation (misuse of properly prescribed medicine including, but not limited to, such drugs as amphetamines and barbiturates). Possession of prescription drugs without prior authorization for prescribing medication (office policy);

(32) Robbery;

(33) Use of alcohol, under the influence of alcohol, or showing evidence of having consumed alcohol;

(34) Use of intoxicants which cause a loss of self-control or inebriation which include, but are not limited to, glue and solvents, excluding betel nut;

(35) Violent behavior which creates a substantial danger to persons or property;

(36) Any crime that is designated a felony by CNMI or federal statutes.

(c) Category III _ Offenses which shall result in expulsion and referral to law enforcement:

(1) Possession, use, purchase, or sale of a firearm;

(i) A firearm is defined as:

(A) Any weapon which will, or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; or

(B) The frame or receiver of any weapon which will, or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.

(2) Acts of terrorism (such as bomb threats);

(3) Fraud and/or identity theft.

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