State Truancy Laws
Although states vary in their responses to truancy, their laws in defining truancy are fairly similar. Below are some examples for various states.
CALIFORNIA: Any school-aged child who is absent from school without valid excuse three full days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than any 30-minute period during one school day on three occasions during the school year or any combination thereof is considered truant and should be reported to the supervisor of the school district.
CONNECTICUT: A truant is a child between the ages of five and 18 who is enrolled in any public or private school and has four unexcused absences in a month or 10 in any school year. A HABITUAL truant is a child of the same age who has 20 unexcused absences from school during a school year.
ILLINOIS: A truant is defined as any child subject to compulsory schooling and who is absent from school unexcused. Absences that are excused are determined by the school board. A chronic or habitual truant is a school-age child who is absent without valid cause for 10 percent out of 180 consecutive days. The truant officer in Illinois is responsible for informing parents of truancy and referring the case to juvenile court.
LOUISIANA: Any student between the ages of seven and seventeen is required to attend school. A student is considered truant when the child has been absent from school for five school days in schools operating on a semester system and for ten days in schools not operating on a semester basis. A student may be referred to juvenile court for habitual absence when all reasonable efforts by school administrators have failed and there have been five unexcused absences in one month. The school principal or truancy officer shall file a report indicating dates of absences, contacts with parents, and other information.
VIRGINIA: Any student between the ages of five and 18 is subject to compulsory school attendance. After a pupil has been absent for five days during the school year without a valid excuse, a notice is sent to parents outlining the consequences of truancy. A conference with school officials and parents is arranged within fifteen school days of the sixth absence. Once a truant has accumulated more than seven absences during the school year, the case will be referred to juvenile and domestic relations court.
WASHINGTON STATE: Washington law defines an unexcused absence as the student’s failure “to attend the majority of hours or periods in an average school day or [failure] to comply with a more restrictive school district policy, and [failure] to meet the school district’s policy for excused absences.”17 Although the law specifies a minimum criterion for the definition of an unexcused absence, it also allows for the use of more restrictive district definitions. This discretion introduces variability into the identification of chronically truant students throughout the state.