Reminding parents about chronic absenteeism before school starts

Reminding parents about chronic absenteeism before school starts

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Many kids in the Tennessee Valley will head back to the classrooms this week and next week. School systems are taking this time to remind parents about Alabama's compulsory attendance law.

The law states that every child between the ages of 6 and 17 is required to attend school.

"If students are not in school, their academics suffer," said Cary Gr ant. Gr ant is the director of student welfare and social services for Huntsville City Schools.

Gr ant said that some parents may not know the difference between truancy and chronic absenteeism. A truancy only counts a student's unexcused absence, while chronic absences include all absences, like excused, unexcused and suspensions.

To help fight chronic absences, Huntsville City Schools will be implementing a truancy task force.

"You've got six team members that are looking at that particular students attendance each day to make sure that we are coming up with strategies, interventions to address those attendance issues," Gr ant said about the task force.

If a child misses a certain amount of school days, parents can face consequences such as fines or even jail time. However, Gr ant said the school system tries to step in before it ever gets to that point.

After a student's first and second absence, Huntsville City Schools will have a phone conversation and a parent conference about the absences. The third absences leads to a referral to the student welfare office. If a child has four to five absences, Huntsville City Schools may pay a visit to the student's home to make sure they are all right and to see if they can offer any kind of resources. Once the absences get to the seven to 10 range, the parent and student are usually referred to juvenile court.

Gr ant said that the school system tries to let parents know that they are there to help them avoid reaching the court level.

"We're not calling you in for your child acting out or whatever. We're calling to support you and offer resources and interventions," said Gr ant.

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