Violating, ignoring truancy and residency policies has consequences
by Mark Andrews
Sep 26, 2012 | 1760 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The age-old act of “playing hookey,” or not going to school, is literally risky business in 2012. Cartersville Assistant Superintendent Ken Clouse said not only do students risk the consequences of unexcused school absences, which could result in missing a test or being denied extension on a homework assignment, but parents of students who skip school can be placed in legal hot water.

“We are required under law to report to local authorities when a student is truant from school,” Clouse said in an email. “This policy has not changed in regards to reporting. With a change in the legislation last session, we no longer have to send notification via certified mail, but that is the only thing that has changed in the last [five-plus] years with this policy.

“When students are truant, we are required through our Social Workers to take [violators] to court to remedy the situation.”

According to a local board policy, which is in accordance with Georgia Department of Education rules, “Any student subject to compulsory attendance law, who during the school year, is absent from school more than five (5) days without a valid written excuse is considered truant. School days missed as a result of suspension shall not count as unexcused days for the purpose of determining student truancy. A valid excuse is a written explanation of one of the approved reasons listed in this policy. The written excuse shall be provided to the school within three (3) days of a student’s absence signed by the student’s parent or guardian.

“Furthermore, any student in grades 6-12 who exceeds five (5) days absence in a class during a semester without documentation of an excused absence shall not receive credit for the course. Students denied credit for a course due to excessive absences may appeal for credit to the Student Attendance Committee of the school.”

If a student’s absence is excused and makeup work for the absence is completed, then final course grade will not be penalized. However, failure to comply with the attendance policy can result in the following action:

• Parental notification and/or conferencing

• Referral to Student Attendance Committee

• Referral to social worker

• Referral to juvenile or other appropriate court jurisdiction

• Withdrawal from school

• Class failure resulting in grade level retention

• Disposition for unruly children in accordance with O.C.G.A. 15-11-67, including the possible denial or suspension of a driver’s license for the student.

While the system is making efforts to ensure students abide by the attendance policy, they also are moving forward with enforcing the system’s policy requiring out-of-city students to pay tuition to attend a city school. There are measures in place for making sure people who claim to be cohabitating in the city limits provide documentation of residency.

“If a person is living with someone in the city limits, they are required to have the owner of the property come in and sign an affidavit that they are indeed a legal resident at that location,” Clouse said. “This is the only real way we have of establishing residency for these folks.

“So far, we have found several families that have lied and been lying for some time just to be able to come to the city schools. This is very unfair to those legal residents and for those who are legitimately paying non-resident tuition.

“There is provision in the law that if someone lies on such an affidavit, including the property owner, they could face a penalty of up to $1000 fine and jail time. We are taking the first of these cases to court this week.”