School Attendance Policies
ATKINSON COUNTY TRUANCY REDUCTION PROGRAM
Proposal and Goal
The District Attorney’s Office for the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, in cooperation with the Department of Juvenile Justice, has approved a truancy reduction program. The goal of this program is to reduce truancies throughout the county. The mission of the program is to reduce overall delinquency rates by identifying at-risk children and providing early intervention. Truancy is an early indicator of children who are at risk for delinquent behavior. Therefore, reducing truancy is a good starting point for reducing overall juvenile crime rates.
When a child incursthree (3) unexcused absences, the school will document contact with the parent, guardian or other person who has control or charge of the child. This contact will be by telephone, mail, or home visit.After five (5) unexcused absences, the social worker will then make a contract, Exhibit “C,” with the family and places the family on notice of the child’s absences and of the provisions of Georgia’s compulsory attendance law. If there is no response from the guardian after two (2) reasonable attempts a certified letter will be sent home with a receipt request. At a total of seven (7) unexcused absences after initial contact by the social worker, the social worker refers the case to the District Attorney’s Office by forwarding Exhibit “A” attached hereto. The social worker should check for other siblings in the family who may be having truancy problems so that all children may be seen in one conference. The Assistant District Attorney (ADA) then sends a certified letter to the parents notifying them of a mandatory conference at the District Attorney’s Office regarding their child’s school attendance. A copy of this letter is attached hereto as Exhibit “B.”
Conferences are scheduled for fifteen (15) minute increments beginning at 3:30 PM after school. Some conferences may take between twenty (20) and twenty-five (25) minutes. The ADA, social worker, parents, and child must all be present at the conference. The ADA begins the conference by introducing all parties and stating the purpose of the meeting. The ADA then explains Georgia’s Compulsory Attendance Law to the parents and the children and the consequences of noncompliance. Possible consequences for the child include the filing of a formal complaint with Juvenile Court. Consequences for the parents include arrest and release on a formal misdemeanor warrant with charges brought before the Grand Jury for indictment and prosecution in Superior Court pursuant to O.C.G.A. §20-2-690.1. At the referral meeting, the school social worker shall discuss the child’s school record including attendance and disciplinary problems. The parents and child are given an opportunity to explain the absences as well as other potential problems that need to be identified and addressed.
All parties to the conference sign a contract. A copy of the contract is attached hereto as Exhibit “C.” The contract requires a doctor’s note for any additional absences from school. If other problems are identified, such as drug or alcohol abuse, chronic lice, anger management, or the need for parenting classes, those problems shall also be addressed in the contract. The parents and social worker are given copies of the contract and the ADA keeps the original. The parents are informed that any violation of the contract may result in a referral to Juvenile Court and/or misdemeanor criminal charges against the parents. Notes are taken by the ADA for statistical purposes as well as for potential legal action in the future. The note form is attached hereto as Exhibit “D.”
A copy of the contract is given to the school to be placed in the student’s file. If a violation of the contract, another truancy violation, does occur the school shall immediately notify the school social worker. After any report of a violation, the social worker must notify the ADA in writing and include a current attendance print-out on the student so a Juvenile Complaint form can be completed.
All truancy complaints filed with the Juvenile Court shall be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office for the Alapaha Judicial Circuit. If the child continues to have truancy problems after the initial truancy referral meeting, then formal action shall be taken by the ADA. It shall be the policy of the ADA of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, the Juvenile Court, and the Department of Juvenile Justice, for first time truancy offenders to seek a ninety (90) day valid court order from the Juvenile Court. This shall be an informal period of supervision used to monitor attendance. It shall be the duty of the school social worker to monitor said attendance and report to the Department of Juvenile Justice all violations of the court’s order.A truant juvenile upon the conviction of a second offense shall be placed under formal supervision with the Juvenile Court with another valid court order. These valid court orders shall be good for a period of twelve (12) months. A juvenile who violates the terms and conditions of their valid court order because of another truancy violation shall receive forty-eight (48) hours at the Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC).A second violation of the valid court order because of truancy shall incur a sentence of ten (10) days at the RYDC. Any subsequent violations of the court’s order where the violation is based on truancy shall receive twenty (20) days at the RYDC.These are policy guidelines followed by the truancy reduction program; however, all dispositions of these cases remain within the discretion of the Juvenile Court.
If it is determined that enough evidence exists to prosecute the parents for violations of Georgia’s Compulsory Attendance Law, or the facts of the case show that the parents are the responsible parties for the truancy problems of the children, then a request will be made by the ADA for assistance by local law enforcement to secure a Superior Court arrest warrant for the parents for violation of Georgia’s Compulsory Attendance Law. The request shall be made for local law enforcement to arrest the parents and interview them regarding the violation. It will be the policy of this office to request that the parents be released without bond on their own recognizance. A formal indictment will be sought from the next available grand jury to show community support for the project and for further prosecution of the parents.
The goal of the program is to insure compliance with Georgia’s Compulsory Attendance Law and provide the opportunity for all children to obtain the best possible education available.
 For all purposes in this program, it shall be deemed a violation of the court’s order when the student has obtained three (3) unexcused absences in any month.
 This does not apply for violations of probation for causes other than truancy.
 These guidelines would also apply to juveniles who have new truancy offenses and have been released from supervision with the exception that a new valid court order would be necessary.
Pupils who have been absent are required to bring a written statement from the parent, guardian, or doctor giving the reason for absence. This note must be signed by the parent and brought to the teacher the day the child returns to school. If the teacher does not receive such notification, the absence will be listed as an unexcused absence and could result in a zero. Students are not allowed to make up an assignment when absences are unexcused. Students with excused absence will be given 3 days to make up work. Excused absences do not ensure perfect attendance.
Students are expected to be at school and in their classrooms by 7:50 A.M. (Pearson Elementary School) and 8:00 A.M. (Willacoochee Elementary School). Students who arrive after 7:50 A.M. (P.E.S) and 8:00 A.M. (W.E.S) will be considered tardy and must report to the office in order to be permitted to enter class. Failure to comply with this will result in the following per nine weeks: after the third tardy and on each additional tardy, the school social worker will be contacted to notify the parent.
Guidelines for Tardy Consequences Per Grading Period
1st and 2nd Offence- Warning
3rd and 4th Offence- Contact School Social Worker
5th Offence---------- Loss of School Breaks
6th Offence---------- Loss of School Breaks and Extra Curricular Activities
No student will receive a “perfect attendance reward” if they are tardy or leave early (before 2:30 P.M.), more than 10 days.
Leaving School Early
Students may leave school only if the parent or guardian comes by the office and signs them out. Parents must come into the office. Parents should not ask that student to be dismissed before 2:35 P.M. (P.E.S.) and 3:00 P.M. (W.E.S.) unless for emergency reasons.