Logan County battles truancy issues
Logan County students must attend school, even the last few days of school, to avoid having to deal with the punishment and consequences associated with absences.
Parents and students in Logan County schools will be placed in the court system, and students may have their driver’s license revoked if they don’t attend school, even the final days of school. Students will be counted absent up to May 29, 2013, which is the day Logan County schools are out for the summer.
Getting an education is the most important thing in a child’s life. If students are repeatedly absent, they are not able to get the quality of education needed for success in life. Failing to comply with the attendance policy leads to the development of poor school and work ethics, a lack of interest in school and the progress of the student’s educational future. Other issues such as poor grades, dropping-out of school, teen pregnancy, alcohol or drug abuse may come about as a result of students not being in school every day.
Truancy is defined by W.Va. state law as having missed over five unexcused days in a school year. It is the duty of the parent or guardian to insure the student is attending school daily and to provide a doctor’s excuse or to provide information to school personnel related to the absence upon the student’s return to class.
Parents may submit five (5) notes during the school year. Absences are considered unexcused after the limit of five parent notes is reached.
Based on Logan County policy, an excuse must be presented to the school within 10 days after the student’s return to school after the absence. Students with proper documentation from a medical doctor will be issued a special attendance code which indicates an excused absence. The documentation must be signed by a medical doctor, not a physician’s assistant or nurse practioner.
According to Ms. Cathy M. Adkins, Attendance Director and Homeless Liaison for Logan County Schools, truancy issues and cases held in Logan County Circuit Court have nearly tripled over the past few years. Ms. Adkins works with Judge Eric O’Briant, the probation office, the prosecuting attorney’s office and DHHR daily to enforce truancy laws set forth by policy.
Ms. Adkins stresses the need for good attendance habits to begin in Pre-kindergarten. She said, “Start a good pattern of attendance early on to avoid negative effects later in the student’s school career.”
Parents are held accountable for their child’s school attendance. The law is stated clearly in Logan County policy.
• Students cannot have over five unexcused days during a school year.
• Students may present five (5) parent notes during a school year. An unlimited number of appropriate doctor’s excuses are accepted.
• Schools notify parents/guardians when a student has five unexcused absences.
• A CA2 Notice is sent by Ms. Adkins to inform parents/guardians they have ten days to respond with proper documentation to correct the issue.
• If not corrected within the ten-day timeframe, Ms. Adkins files a warrant or petition to appear in Circuit Court.
• Visits to schools, meetings with parents/guardians, SAT teams, principals, Ms. Adkins, probation and DHHR are made in attempts to curtail truancy issues before they escalate and require legal remedies.
• Students with excessive absences during a school year are placed on a “watch list” for the next school year. Once a student with a history of unexcused absences reaches the limit of five unexcused absences, they receive a subpoena to appear in court.
Judge O’Briant holds parents/guardians responsible for a student’s school attendance. Parents/guardians with students in Logan County Schools over the age of 18 are issued a warrant for truancy.
Repercussions for truancy include being fined $50 for each day absent; being placed on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond; an improvement plan with probation officer supervision; jail time at Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden; the DRK Center in Boone County (also referred to as the Boone County Resort) or placement at other facilities; Multi-Disciplinary Team Meetings at DHHR and children can be removed from the parent/guardian based on educational neglect.
Parents/guardians may be incarcerated and/or suffer the inconvenience of waiting to see a probation officer once a week once court proceedings have taken place.
Students with truancy issues often find they are not eligible to receive the school enrollment form necessary to obtain a driver’s license, or they may not be able to keep a license already issued. They must have fewer than 15 unexcused absences, including suspensions.
After 15 unexcused absences, students will have their license revoked and must pay a $50 at the Charleston Department of Motor Vehicles for reinstatement, which will not be available until the following semester. This law is strictly enforced and licenses may be revoked several times throughout the year.
Being involved in the legal process may be the only way for some students to improve grades, rekindle an interest in education and earn a high school diploma. The best course of action would be to attend school daily and prevent negative consequences, legal proceedings or punishment for the student, parents/guardians and family.
“Start the 2013-2014 school year right. Keep a folder with absence information, copies of excuses, a calendar to track absences, notes and any other documentation available,” said Adkins, “The law states compulsory school attendance begins at age six (6) and extends through age 17. The court can keep students under supervision until they graduate or reach the age of 21. Students and their parents or guardians must realize they have no choice when it comes to school attendance.”
For more information or assistance, contact Cathy Adkins at the Logan County Board of Education, 304-792-2043.
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