Amendment Tempers Truancy LawAuthors: David Noland, Matt Marcellis
August 21, 2018
On August 10, 2018, the Governor signed into law Public Act 100-0810 loosening the state’s truancy laws and mandating employee training on available support services to promote student attendance and engagement.
First, the amendment expands the meaning of the term “valid cause” for a student absence to include circumstances that cause reasonable concern to the parent for the mental and emotional health of the student in addition to the existing causes in the law, which only encompass concerns for the student’s physical health or safety. Next, the law requires a school district to notify the district’s truant officer, regional office of education, or intermediate service center and make all appropriate and available supportive services and other school resources available to the student before referring any person having custody of the student to any other local public entity for issuance of a fine or fee; the school district also must document that such services were offered. Additionally, the amendment makes it impermissible for the school district to refer a truant, chronic truant, or truant minor to any other local public entity for that local public entity to issue a fine or fee directly to the student as punishment.
Finally, the law requires school districts to make reasonable efforts to provide ongoing professional development to teachers, administrators, school board members, school resource officers, and staff on the appropriate and available supportive services for the promotion of student attendance and engagement.
School districts should prepare to make the appropriate changes to their truancy programs to integrate the requirements of this amendment.