Utah School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

Discipline Compendium

Utah School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy

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

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LAWS

§ 53G-6-201. Definitions.

As used in this part:

(1)(a) "Absence" or "absent" means the failure of a school-age child assigned to a class or class period to attend a class or class period.

(b) "Absence" or "absent" does not mean multiple tardies used to calculate an absence for the sake of a truancy.

(2) "Minor" means a person under the age of 18 years.

(3) "Parent" includes:

(a) a custodial parent of the minor;

(b) a legally appointed guardian of a minor; or

(c) any other person purporting to exercise any authority over the minor which could be exercised by a person described in Subsection (3)(a) or (b).

(4) "School day" means the portion of a day that school is in session in which a school-age child is required to be in school for purposes of receiving instruction.

(5) "School year" means the period of time designated by a local school board or charter school governing board as the school year for the school where the school-age child:

(a) is enrolled; or

(b) should be enrolled, if the school-age child is not enrolled in school.

(6) "School-age child" means a minor who:

(a) is at least six years old but younger than 18 years old; and

(b) is not emancipated.

(7)(a) "Truant" means a condition in which a school-age child, without a valid excuse, and subject to Subsection (7)(b), is absent for at least:

(i) half of the school day; or

(ii) if the school-age child is enrolled in a learner verified program, as that term is defined by the state board, the relevant amount of time under the LEA's policy regarding the LEA's continuing enrollment measure as it relates to truancy.

(b) A school-age child may not be considered truant under this part more than one time during one day.

(8) "Truant minor" means a school-age child who:

(a) is subject to the requirements of Section 53G-6-202 or 53G-6-203; and

(b) is truant.

(9)(a) "Valid excuse" means:

(i) an illness, which may be either mental or physical, regardless of whether the school-age child or parent provides documentation from a medical professional;

(ii) mental or behavioral health of the school-age child;

(iii) a family death;

(iv) an approved school activity;

(v) an absence permitted by a school-age child's:

(A) individualized education program; or

(B) Section 504 accommodation plan;

(vi) an absence permitted in accordance with Subsection 53G-6-803(5); or

(vii) any other excuse established as valid by a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district.

(b) "Valid excuse" does not mean a parent acknowledgment of an absence for a reason other than a reason described in Subsections (9)(a)(i) through (vi), unless specifically permitted by the local school board, charter school governing board, or school district under Subsection (9)(a)(vi).

§ 53G-6-202. Compulsory education.

(1) As used in this section:

(a) "Intentionally" means the same as that term is defined in Section 76-2-103.

(b) "Notice of compulsory education violation" means a notice issued in accordance with Subsections (3) and (4).

(c) "Remainder of the school year" means the portion of the school year beginning on the day after the day on which a notice of compulsory education violation is served and ending on the last day of the school year.

(2) Except as provided in Section 53G-6-204 or 53G-6-702, the parent of a school-age child shall enroll and send the school-age child to a public or regularly established private school.

(3) A school administrator, a designee of a school administrator, a law enforcement officer acting as a school resource officer, or a truancy specialist may only issue a notice of compulsory education violation to a parent of a school-age child if the school-age child is:

(a) in grade 1 through 6; and

(b) truant at least five times during the school year.

(4) A notice of compulsory education violation issued to a parent:

(a) shall direct the parent to:

(i) meet with school authorities to discuss the school-age child's school attendance problems; and

(ii) cooperate with the local school board, charter school governing board, or school district in securing regular attendance by the school-age child;

(b) shall designate the school authorities with whom the parent is required to meet;

(c) shall state that it is a class B misdemeanor for the parent to intentionally or without good cause:

(i) fail to meet with the designated school authorities to discuss the school-age child's school attendance problems; or

(ii) fail to prevent the school-age child from being truant five or more times during the remainder of the school year;

(d) shall be served on the parent by personal service or certified mail; and

(e) may not be issued unless the school-age child has been truant at least five times during the school year.

(5) Except during the period between March 17, 2021 and June 1, 2022, it is a class B misdemeanor for a parent of a school-age child to intentionally or without good cause fail to enroll the school-age child in school, unless the school-age child is exempt from enrollment under Section 53G-6-204 or 53G-6-702.

(6) Except during the period between March 17, 2021 and June 1, 2022, it is a class B misdemeanor for a parent of a school-age child who is in grade 1 through 6 to, after being served with a notice of compulsory education violation, intentionally or without good cause:

(a) fail to meet with the school authorities designated in the notice of compulsory education violation to discuss the school-age child's school attendance problems; or

(b) fail to prevent the school-age child from being truant five or more times during the remainder of the school year.

(7) Except during the period described in Subsections (5) and (6), a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district shall report violations of this section to the appropriate county or district attorney.

(8) Except during the period described in Subsections (5) and (6), if school personnel have reason to believe that, after a notice of compulsory education violation is issued, the parent has failed to make a good faith effort to ensure that the school-age child receives an appropriate education, the issuer of the compulsory education violation shall report to the Division of Child and Family Services:

(a) identifying information of the school-age child and the parent who received the notice of compulsory education violation;

(b) information regarding the longest number of consecutive school days the school-age child has been absent or truant from school and the percentage of school days the school-age child has been absent or truant during each relevant school term;

(c) whether the school-age child has made adequate educational progress;

(d) whether the requirements of Section 53G-6-206 have been met;

(e) whether the school-age child is two or more years behind the local public school's age group expectations in one or more basic skills; and

(f) whether the school-age child is receiving special education services or systematic remediation efforts.

(9) Notwithstanding this section, during the period described in Subsections (5) and (6), a school administrator, designee of a school administrator, law enforcement officer acting as a school resource officer, or truancy specialist may not issue or otherwise enforce a notice of compulsory education.

§ 53G-6-203. Truancy–Notice of truancy–Failure to cooperate with school authorities.

(1) Except as provided in Section 53G-6-204 or 53G-6-702, a school-age child who is enrolled in a public school shall attend the public school in which the school-age child is enrolled.

(2) In accordance with Section 53G-8-211, a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district may impose administrative penalties on a school-age child who is:

(a) in grade 7 or above, unless the school-age child is less than 12 years old; and

(b) truant.

(3) A local school board or charter school governing board:

(a) may authorize a school administrator, a designee of a school administrator, a law enforcement officer acting as a school resource officer, or a truancy specialist to issue a notice of truancy in accordance with Subsection (4); and

(b) shall establish a procedure for a school-age child, or the school-age child's parents, to contest a notice of truancy.

(4) A notice of truancy described in Subsection (3):

(a) may not be issued until a school-age child has been truant at least five times during the school year;

(b) may not be issued to a school-age child who is less than 12 years old or in a grade below grade 7;

(c) may not be issued to a school-age child exempt from school attendance as provided in Section 53G-6-204 or 53G-6-702;

(d) shall direct the school-age child who receives the notice of truancy and the parent of the school-age child to:

(i) meet with school authorities to discuss the school-age child's truancies; and

(ii) cooperate with the local school board, charter school governing board, or school district in securing regular attendance by the school-age child; and

(e) shall be mailed to, or served on, the school-age child's parent.

(5)(a) Except as provided in Subsection (5)(b), nothing in this part prohibits a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district from taking action to resolve a truancy problem with a school-age child who has been truant fewer than five times, provided that the action does not conflict with the requirements of this part.

(b) A local school board, charter school governing board, or school district may not take punitive action to resolve a truancy problem with a school-age child during the period described in Subsection (2).

(6) Notwithstanding this section, during the period described in Subsection (2), a school administrator, designee of a school administrator, law enforcement officer acting as a school resource officer, or truancy specialist may not issue or otherwise enforce a notice of truancy.

§ 53G-6-206. Duties of a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district in resolving attendance problems–Parental involvement–Liability not imposed.

(1)(a) Subject to Subsection (1)(b), a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district shall make efforts to resolve the school attendance problems of each school-age child who is, or should be, enrolled in the school district.

(b) A school-age child exempt from school attendance under Section 53G-6-204 or 53G-6-702 is not considered to be a school-age child who is or should be enrolled in a school district or charter school under Subsection (1)(a).

(2) The efforts described in Subsection (1) shall include, as reasonably feasible:

(a) counseling of the school-age child by school authorities;

(b)(i) issuing a notice of truancy to the school-age child in accordance with Section 53G-6-203; or

(ii) issuing a notice of compulsory education violation to the school-age child's parent in accordance with Section 53G-6-202;

(c) making any necessary adjustment to the curriculum and schedule to meet special needs of the school-age child;

(d) considering alternatives proposed by the school-age child's parent;

(e) monitoring school attendance of the school-age child;

(f) voluntary participation in truancy mediation, if available; and

(g) providing the school-age child's parent, upon request, with a list of resources available to assist the parent in resolving the school-age child's attendance problems.

(3) In addition to the efforts described in Subsection (2), the local school board, charter school governing board, or school district may enlist the assistance of community and law enforcement agencies as appropriate and reasonably feasible in accordance with Section 53G-8-211.

(4) This section does not impose civil liability on boards of education, local school boards, charter school governing boards, school districts, or their employees.

(5) Proceedings initiated under this part do not obligate or preclude action by the Division of Child and Family Services under Section 78A-6-319.

(6) Each LEA shall annually report the following data separately to the state board:

(a) absences with a valid excuse; and

(b) absences without a valid excuse.

§ 53G-6-207. Truancy specialists.

A local school board or charter school governing board may appoint and fix the compensation of a truancy specialist to assist in enforcing laws related to school attendance and to perform other duties prescribed by law or the state board.

§ 53G-6-208. Taking custody of a person believed to be a truant minor–Disposition–Reports–Immunity from liability.

(1) Except during the period between March 17, 2021 and June 1, 2022, a peace officer or public school administrator may take a minor into temporary custody if there is reason to believe the minor is a truant minor.

(2) An individual taking a presumed truant minor into custody under Subsection (1) shall, without unnecessary delay, release the minor to:

(a) the principal of the minor's school;

(b) a person who has been designated by the local school board or charter school governing board to receive and return the minor to school; or

(c) a truancy center established under Subsection (5).

(3) If the minor described in Subsection (2) refuses to return to school or go to the truancy center, the officer or administrator shall, without unnecessary delay, notify the minor's parents and release the minor to their custody.

(4) If the parents of a truant minor in custody cannot be reached or are unable or unwilling to accept custody and none of the options in Subsection (2) are available, the minor shall be referred to the Division of Child and Family Services.

(5)(a)(i) A local school board or charter school governing board, singly or jointly with another school board, may establish or designate truancy centers within existing school buildings and staff the centers with existing teachers or staff to provide educational guidance and counseling for truant minors.

(ii) Upon receipt of a truant minor, the center shall, without unnecessary delay, notify and direct the minor's parents to come to the center, pick up the minor, and return the minor to the school in which the minor is enrolled.

(b)(i) If the parents of a truant minor in custody cannot be reached or are unable or unwilling to comply with the request within a reasonable time, the center shall take such steps as are reasonably necessary to ensure the safety and well being of the minor, including, when appropriate, returning the minor to school or referring the minor to the Division of Child and Family Services.

(ii) A minor taken into custody under this section may not be placed in a detention center or other secure confinement facility.

(6)(a) An individual taking action under this section shall report the action to the appropriate school district.

(b) The district described in Subsection (6)(a) shall promptly notify the minor's parents of the action taken.

(7) The Utah Governmental Immunity Act applies to all actions taken under this section.

(8) Nothing in this section may be construed to grant authority to a public school administrator to place a minor in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services, without complying with Title 62A, Chapter 4a, Part 2, Child Welfare Services, and Title 78A, Chapter 6, Part 3, Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Proceedings.

§ 53G-6-209. Truancy support centers.

(1) A school district may establish one or more truancy support centers for:

(a) truant minors taken into custody under Section 53G-6-208; or

(b) students suspended or expelled from school.

(2) A truancy support center shall provide services to the truant minor and the truant minor's family, including:

(a) assessments of the truant minor's needs and abilities;

(b) support for the parents and truant minor through counseling and community programs; and

(c) tutoring for the truant minor during the time spent at the center.

(3) For the suspended or expelled student, the truancy support center shall provide an educational setting, staffed with certified teachers and aides, to provide the student with ongoing educational programming appropriate to the student's grade level.

(4) In a district with a truancy support center, all students suspended or expelled from school shall be referred to the center. A parent shall appear with the student at the center within 48 hours of the suspension or expulsion, not including weekends or holidays. The student shall register and attend classes at the truancy support center for the duration of the suspension or expulsion unless the parent demonstrates that alternative arrangements have been made for the education or supervision of the student during the time of suspension or expulsion.

(5) The truancy support center may provide counseling and other support programming for students suspended or expelled from school and their parents.

§ 53G-8-211. Responses to school-based behavior.

(1) As used in this section:

(b) "Habitual truant" means a school-age child who:

(i) is in grade 7 or above, unless the school-age child is less than 12 years old;

(ii) is subject to the requirements of Section 53G-6-202; and

(iii)(A) is truant at least 10 times during one school year; or

(B) fails to cooperate with efforts on the part of school authorities to resolve the school-age child's attendance problem as required under Section 53G-6-206.

REGULATIONS

R277-607-1. Authority and purpose.

(1) This rule is authorized by:

(a) Utah Constitution Article X, Section 3 which vests general control and supervision over public education in the Board;

(b) Subsection 53E-3-401(4), which allows the Board to make rules to execute the Board's duties and responsibilities under the Utah Constitution and state; and

(c) Section 53G-6-206, which directs educational entities and parents working on behalf of children to make efforts to resolve school attendance problems of school-age minors who are or who should be enrolled in an LEA.

(2) The purpose of this rule is to direct an LEA to create policies for truancy procedures and compulsory education.

R277-607-2. Definitions.

(1) "Absence" means the same as that term is defined in Subsection 53G-6-201(1).

(2)    "Behavioral health" means the impact a student's actions can have on a student's physical or mental health and includes conditions in which services provided by social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, neurologists, behavior analyst, psychologists, and physicians would be appropriate.

(3)    "Mental health" means the same as that term is defined in Subsection R277-625-2(2).

(4) "Notice of truancy" is a citation issued consistent with Section 53G-6-203.

(5)    "Punitive action" means

(a)  a Notice of truancy;

(b)  a notice of compulsory education violation consistent with Section 53G-6-202; and

(c)  does not mean any other supports or alternative interventions as determined by an LEA

(6) "Truant" means the same as that term is defined in Subsection 53G-6-201(7).

(7) "Unexcused absence" means a student's absence from school for reasons other than those deemed a valid excuse.

(8) "Valid excuse" means the same as that term is defined in Subsection 53G-6-201(9).

R277-607-3. Truancy policy requirements.

(1) An LEA shall:

(a) develop an absenteeism and truancy policy that

(i) encourages regular, punctual attendance of students, consistent with Section 53G-8-211 and Title 53G Public Education System–Local Administration, Chapter 6 Participation in Public Schools, Part 2 Compulsory Education;

(ii)    ensures valid excused absences for mental health or behavioral health are not used to circumvent Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) requirements or other educational services requirement under federal law including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA);

(iii)    (iii)  ensure between March 17, 2021 and June 1, 2022 that no punitive action is taken against a student or student's parent for being truant

(b) review the LEA's absenteeism and truancy policy regularly;

(c) create and operate an attendance review team as described in Subsection (3);

(d) review attendance data annually and consider revisions to the absenteeism; truancy policy to encourage student attendance;

(e) make the absenteeism and truancy policy available for review by parents or interested parties; and

(f) as described in Subsection 53G-8-211(2)(b), ensure that the LEA does not refer a student to a court for being truant between March 17, 2021 and June 1, 2022.

(2) An LEA may issue a notice of truancy to a student consistent with the LEA's absenteeism and truancy policy and Section 53G-6-203.

(3) An LEA's attendance review team shall:

(a) consist of:

(i) administrators including those responsible for:

(A) academic instruction;

(B) health and wellness;

(C) student support services; and

(D) attendance data;

(ii) where possible, community agencies; and

(iii) may include the LEA's multi-disciplinary team;

(b) review attendance data to inform actions and tiered interventions development at least monthly;

(c) create a systematic LEA and school level response for the LEA's absenteeism and truancy policy including:

(i) practice improvement; and

(ii) prevention and intervention strategies; and

(d) promote shared accountability and continuous improvement related to an LEA's absenteeism and truancy policy including a school level attendance plan developed at the end of the previous school year.

R277-607-4. Compulsory education procedures.

(1) An LEA shall develop compulsory education procedures as part of the LEA's absenteeism and truancy policy described in Section R277-607-3.

(2) The compulsory education procedures shall:

(a) provide a process for notice to parents about the absenteeism and truancy policy;

(b) require notice to parents regarding the progress of a student's discipline and consequences for violation of the truancy policy;

(c) provide an appeals process to contest:

(i) a notice of truancy; or

(ii) any disciplinary actions against a student pursuant to absenteeism and the truancy policy or;

(d) establish definitions not provided in law or this rule necessary to implement the absenteeism and truancy policy and compulsory education procedures;

(e) include definitions of:

(i) "approved school activity" under Subsection 53G-6-201(9)(c); and

(ii) "any other excuse" under Subsection 53G-6-201(9)(e);

(f) include criteria and procedures for preapproval of extended absences consistent with Section 53G-6-205; and

(g) establish programs and meaningful incentives which promote regular, punctual student attendance.

(3) An LEA shall publish the appeals process described in Subsection R277-607-4(2)(c) for use by a student or the student's parents.

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