• School Attendance Matters (SAM)

    Students who frequently miss school fall behind academically. While caused by a variety of factors, poor attendance makes it difficult for children to succeed in school, limiting their options for future success.  

    We collaborate with schools, law enforcement, community agencies and child protection to intervene early. Our goal is to understand the reasons children are missing school and work with students and their families to remove those barriers so they are present every day and succeed in school and in life.

    Ensuring children attend

    To ensure children are present every day and succeed in school, we use a three-step process:

    1. An Assistant County Attorney meets with parents of children (and children over 12 years old) to discuss why the child is missing school and the lifelong benefits of education, and also to educate parents on the compulsory education law and the steps we take to enforce it.

    Good news! 79% of students improve their attendance after step one!

    2. If attendance does not improve, parents (and children over 12 years old) are given the opportunity to participate in a Student Attendance Review Team (SART) hearing, during which we will create a contract to address the reasons for the child’s absence.

    3. If attendance still does not improve after the first two steps, the County Attorney will bring the matter to court. If a child is younger than 12 years, legal action will be taken against the parents. If a child is 12 years or older, legal action will be taken against the student, the parents or both.

    Compulsory Education Law

    Parents’ Responsibility

    Parents/guardians are legally responsible for making sure their children attend every day school is in session. Children are not allowed to miss school without legal excuse. 

    The only legal reasons to miss school are: 

    • Sickness.
    • Doctor appointments.
    • Religious holidays.
    • Extreme family emergency.

    School’s responsibility

    • To provide a program/schedule that meets the student’s educational needs.
    • To address barriers to the child’s ability to attend and learn.
    • To maintain accurate attendance records and document communication with the students and parents/guardians about attendance.

    Consequences for not following the law