ATTENDANCE / TRUANCY INTERVENTION SERVICES
Florida Compulsory School Law states all children who are either six years of age, or who will be six years old by February 1 of any school year, but who have not attained the age of 16 must attend school regularly during the entire school term. Students between 16 and 18 are also within compulsory attendance age unless a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment has been completed and signed by the parent.
Florida Law also states that each parent or legal guardian of a child is responsible for the child’s regular school attendance. Failure to attend school in a regular and timely fashion hinders the education process and may result in failing grades. Each student enrolled in Marion County Public Schools is expected to attend school every day and be punctual. Schools are required to track excused and unexcused absence in order to prevent the development of a pattern of nonattendance.
A student who has 15 or more unexcused absences within 90 calendar days with or without the knowledge or consent of the student’s parent or guardian, and who is subject to compulsory school attendance is a habitual truant.
The School Social Work Services Department works with students and families to improve attendance and reduce truancy through investigation, recommendations, and follow-up on attendance and/or truancy cases. Some of the various interventions include:
Child Study Team for Non-attendance
The Child Study Team is made up of primarily school-based professionals designated by the principal, who have the skills and responsibility for problem solving and facilitating interventions for students exhibiting excessive absences. The team often includes individuals, such as the teacher, school counselor, school administrator, school social worker and/or assistant, school psychologist, school nurse, dropout prevention staff, and parent/guardian. The Child Study Team will implement interventions to best address the problem. Some typical interventions might include: attendance contracts, mentoring or peer tutoring, referrals to other agencies for family services, and frequent communication between the teacher and the family.
Truancy Intervention Partnership Program (TIPP)
The Truancy Intervention Partnership Program is a co-operative effort between the Marion County Public School Board, the State Attorney’s Office, Fifth Judicial Circuit court, Law Enforcement, Department of Juvenile Justice, Arnette House Youth and Family Services, and other community agencies. The goal of TIPP is to provide prevention and early intervention services to elementary and secondary school students and their families in Marion County who are experiencing difficulties with regular school attendance as required by Florida State Statute.
School Social Work Services provides referrals to the State Attorney’s Office of students who are deemed chronically absent or on the verge of becoming habitually truant. The State Attorney’s Office contacts Law Enforcement to deliver to the student’s home a letter requesting their appearance before the Circuit Judge. The Circuit Judge holds these sessions in his courtroom. At the meeting, the Judge and State Attorney review the Florida Statute pertaining to truancy with the parent and child. School officials, Law Enforcement, Department of Juvenile Justice, and Arnette House Staff will review their roles in the truancy process with the family.
Failure to comply with this program may result in criminal prosecution of the parent, a truancy court petition filed by the school system, and/or a CINS Petition filed by the Department of Juvenile Justice against the student.