Complying with the Compulsory School Attendance Law
Parents need to know that all students in Madison County area schools are expected to attend school every day. The Compulsory School Attendance Law states that whoever has custody or control of any child between the ages of 7 and 17 years must send the child to a public or private day school on a regular basis.
Poor attendance can affect students' grades. Students must be present in order to successfully learn skills, take tests, and keep up with the required classwork. All schools have their own attendance guidelines; however, schools generally require a written statement explaining the reason for the child's absence along with medical verification when applicable. A medical certificate stating that the child may return to school is needed when a child has been absent from school for five or more consecutive days.
If the parent is having difficulty getting the child to attend school regularly, or if family problems are affecting the child's attendance, the parent should contact the teacher, school social worker, counselor, or principal for help.
(Note: The school must make the referral to the ROE and the student must not be on probation. If the student goes on probation, his/her probation officer handles all truancy matters.)
What Is Truancy?
According to the US Department of Education's Manual to Combat Truancy:
"Truancy is the first sign of trouble; the first indicator that a young person is giving up and losing his or her way. When young people start skipping school, they are telling their parents, school officials, and the community at large that they are in trouble and need our help if they are to keep moving forward in life..." (see: http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/Truancy/index.html)
What is the Compulsory School Age in Illinois?
As of January 1, 2005, the compulsory school age changed to 7-17. Formerly the compulsory age was 7-16. This means that any 16 year-old student that as of December 31, 2004 was still enrolled in school cannot drop out until they are 17 years old. Subsequently, any student that is under the age of 17 cannot dropout of school until his/her 17th birthday.
The Madison County Truants Alternative Program (MCTAP)
The Madison County Truants Alternative Program (MCTAP) emphasizes a holistic approach to reduce the problems of truancy through school and community networking. The MCTAP provides remediation, intervention, and support services to at-risk and truant youth through the assistance of a Truancy Review Board which will be brought together by the Project Coordinator to review truancy cases with which local school personnel efforts have been effective.
An Individualized Truant Alternative Plan containing provisions for diagnostic, intervention, and remediation services is for each referred student.
The second component is the Truancy Court Diversion Program that is designed to help students and families establish regular school attendance without the necessity of filing a Truant Minor In Need of Supervision Petition with the county courts. This diversion program involves the family coming before a truancy judge for judicial admonishment and additions services if deemed appropriate. The third component when all other interventions have failed, is access to the truancy courts at the county level.
Truancy Referral Form (This downloadable form is interactive.)
Truancy Attendance Specifics (Court) Excel File (Instructions: Download this file - fill it in with your information - save it with date and name in the file name - and then email it as an attachment to Brian McGivern (firstname.lastname@example.org) when you are finished. Please do not handwrite this document. Thanks!)