Rhode Island School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

Discipline Compendium

Rhode Island School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

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

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16-19-1. Attendance required.

(a) Every child who has completed, or will have completed, six (6) years of life on or before September 1 of any school year, or is enrolled in kindergarten, and has not completed eighteen (18) years of life, shall regularly attend some public day school during all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child resides. The public school shall be responsible for regular attendance data monitoring of all students and early identification of emergent truant behavior. Prior to referring truant students to family court, schools must do their due diligence to assure all interventions have taken place. This includes, and is not limited to:

(1) Consultation with the parent or guardian; and

(2) Coordination with the student's school-identified support team such as the individualized education plan, behavioral support, or attendance teams.

Every person having under his or her control a child, as described in this section, shall cause the child to attend school as required by this section, and for every neglect of this duty, the person having control of the child shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars ($50.00) for each day, or part of a day, that the child fails to attend school, and if the total of these days is more than thirty (30) school days during any school year, then the person shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months or shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or both; provided, that if the person so charged shall prove that the child has attended, for the required period of time, a private day school approved by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education pursuant to § 16-60-6(10); or a course of at-home instruction approved by the school committee of the town where the child resides; or has been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program; or has obtained a waiver under subsection (b); or that the physical or mental condition of the child was such as to render his or her attendance at school inexpedient or impracticable; or that the child was excluded from school by virtue of some other general law or regulation, then attendance shall not be obligatory nor shall the penalty be incurred.

(d) No school shall use a student's truancy or absenteeism as the sole basis for using an out-of-school suspension as a disciplinary action.

16-19-3. Appointment and compensation of truant officers–Supplies and assistance–Joint officers–Tenure.

The school committee of each city or town shall annually in the month of December appoint one or more persons as truant officers, who shall by virtue of their appointment be clothed with the power of special constables, and fix their compensation, which shall be payable from the appropriation for public schools. The school committee may also furnish all necessary supplies and clerical assistance for the proper and efficient performance of the duties of the truant officer. The school committee of two (2) or more cities or towns may appoint the same truant officer or officers, and any school committee that appoints other employees on a different tenure of office than annual appointments may appoint truant officers on a similar tenure in lieu of the annual appointment mentioned in this section and may fix their compensation from time to time.

16-19-4. Prosecution of violations–Process–Fees.

The truant officers shall, under the direction of the school committee, inquire into all cases arising under the provisions of this chapter, and shall be authorized, with the assistance of police officers upon request in case of violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, to make complaint for violations of this chapter. They may also serve all legal processes issued in pursuance of this chapter, but shall not be entitled to receive any fees for the service; provided, however, that in case of the commitment of any person under the provisions of any section of this chapter, or for default of payment of any fine and costs imposed, the officer shall be entitled to the regular fees allowed by law for similar service.

16-19-6. Proceedings against habitual truants and offenders.

Every habitual truant, that is, every child who is required under § 16-19-1 to attend school and who willfully and habitually absents himself or herself from attending school; and every habitual school offender, that is, every child who is required to attend school under the provision of § 16-19-1, but who persistently violates the rules and regulations of the school which he or she attends, or otherwise persistently misbehaves in the school which he or she attends, so as to render him or herself a fit subject for exclusion; shall be deemed a wayward child as provided in chapter 1 of title 14, and shall be subject to all the provisions of chapter 1 of title 14, and may be proceeded against and dealt with as a wayward child in accordance with the provisions of chapter 1 of title 14.

16-19-10. Notification of pupil absence.

(a) Whenever any pupil in grades kindergarten through nine (9) fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent or guardian is aware of the pupil's absence, a reasonable effort to notify, by telephone, the parent or guardian shall be made by school personnel or volunteers organized by the school committee of each city, town, or regional school district or the director or other person in charge of private schools of elementary and secondary grades.

(b) School committees, school personnel, or volunteers organized pursuant to this section shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability in connection with the notice to parents of a pupil's absence or failure to give the notice required by this section.

16-21-27. Alternative education programs.

Each school district shall adopt a plan to ensure continued education of students who are removed from the classroom because of a suspension of more than ten (10) days or who are chronically truant. The plan shall be adopted by the school committee and shall be submitted to Rhode Island department of elementary and secondary education as part of its annual strategic plan submission.


200-RICR-20-10-1 Section 1.3.2. Supportive and nurturing school community.

F. Positive Behavioral Supports and Discipline

2. Each LEA shall ensure that:

d. Schools have a clearly delineated system for ensuring compulsory attendance for children six (6) to sixteen (16) that includes:

(1) Procedures for noting daily absenteeism and investigating unexcused absences;

(2) Procedures for noting the required period of attendance of students attending at- home instruction approved by the school committee or at a private day school approved by the Commissioner of Education; and

(3) The appointment of truant (or attendance) officers whose duties shall include referring truant students to appropriate school support services and procedures for enforcing any given case through civil action filed in Family Court.

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