(a) School attendance shall be compulsory for students between the ages of five (5) and (18), except for: students participating in an elementary or secondary alternative education program or its equivalent; students enrolled in a high school equivalency program for adults or other programs that prepare students to be readmitted to a regular school; or students who have taken the GED test.
(b) Public school students are hereby prohibited from leaving the school grounds during school hours or during any recess. The School Principal and the student's teacher shall be jointly accountable for unexcused absences of said nature and their evaluations shall state so if they fail to prove that clear and convincing efforts were taken to prevent such absences. It is hereby provided that the Secretary shall be required to prescribe by regulations to such effect, the procedure to authorize students to leave the school grounds during school hours. Such regulations shall contain, at least, one provision regarding the express authorization of a parent, guardian, or custodian.
(c) Any student's parent, guardian, or custodian who encourages, entices, or allows such student to be absent from school for a period equal to or greater than three (3) consecutive days without just cause, or who fails to meet his responsibility of causing the child to attend school, and after receiving a notice of non-compliance, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or a minimum period of one hundred (100) hours of community service at the institution the student for whom he is responsible attends, or both penalties at the discretion of the court. Said person shall also be guilty of a civil infraction that may entail the cancellation of benefits under the Nutrition Assistance Program, the Public Housing Program, and the Affordable Housing Program. Each school shall develop a strategic plan to prevent student's excessive absences from the classroom.
(d) All students shall be enrolled in an educational program until they finish high school or its equivalent. Every student's parent, guardian, or custodian shall be responsible for the student's compulsory school attendance, as provided in this section.
(e) The Secretary, in conjunction with Regional Superintendents and school principals, shall establish the methods or procedures to be used by Regional Offices of Education to implement the provisions regarding student's compulsory school attendance, through regulations that shall include, among others, the following:
(1) The School Principal's responsibility for the enforcement of compulsory school attendance.
(2) A daily attendance record of the school's students. Schools shall use the electronic media established by the Department to record students' class attendance.
(3) An attendance notification system for parents. Said notifications shall be sent on a monthly basis, and in the case of pattern absences, parents shall be notified weekly.
(4) The steps to be taken by the school to address student attendance problems.
(5) Incentives to every student's parent, guardian, or custodian discharging his responsibility regarding the student's compulsory school attendance.
(f) At the end of each semester, the Secretary shall submit a "Report on School Dropout in Puerto Rico". The information therein shall be presented in a manner that is clear and easy to understand for the general public. Said report shall be submitted to the Governor, the Legislative Assembly through the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, and the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics. In addition, the report shall be available on the Department's website. The same shall include, but shall not be limited to, the total dropout rates by grade level for every education region and for each school; the High School Equivalency Test pass rate; data on transfers, expulsions, suspensions, and absenteeism; and any other pertinent information in connection with the academic progress of students. Furthermore, the Secretary shall make available on the Department's website every month, each school's attendance report, which shall be reported in accordance with regulations.
(g) The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics is hereby designated as the authorized representative of the Department for the purpose of sharing students' information with the Institute, safeguarding the confidentiality rights of students pursuant to § 9801d of this title.