Research clearly links truancy with educational failure and delinquency in youth, and with subsequent negative behavior into adulthood. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Early Warning Truancy Prevention program sends a letter to truant students and their parents requesting them, after the fifth unexcused absence or 15 unexcused tardy, to attend a meeting at the courthouse. During these weekly meetings, Prosecutors, Helping Families Initiative staff, and Attendance Officers from Mobile County Public School System explain to parents and students their legal responsibilities and the risks associated with truancy.
The focus of Early Warning Truancy is to increase attendance in school by getting them out of the juvenile court systems. This benefits all of us as a community. The program is modeled after other programs in Alabama and surrounding states and utilizes the best practices to empower schools, families, and the community to fight truancy, increase attendance, and decrease crime.
Alabama Compulsory School Attendance Law
Code of Alabama, Section 16-28-12
Each parent, guardian or other person having control or custody of any child required to attend school or receive regular instruction by a private tutor who fails to have a child enrolled in school or who fails to send the child to school, or have him or her instructed by a private tutor during the time the child s required to attend public school, private school, church school, denominational school, or parochial school, or be instructed by a private tutor, or fails to require the child to regularly attend the school or tutor, or fails to compel the child to properly conduct himself or herself as a pupil in any public school in accordance with the written policy on school behavior adopted by the local board of education pursuant to this section and documented by the appropriate school official which conduct may result in suspension of the pupil, shall not be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $100 and may also be sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than 90 days. The absence of a child without consent of the principal, teachers of the public school he or she attends or should attend, or of the tutor who instructs or should instruct the child, shall be prima facie evidence of the violation of this section.
How the Program Works
First Unexcused Absence:
- Parents/guardians have three days to submit an excuse following the student’s return to school.
- Notifications of the Alabama School Compulsory Laws is sent by phone call and letter to parents/guardians from the school for the first unexcused absence
- Monitor and track attendance.
Third Unexcused Absence:
- Parents/guardians are sent an attendance alert letter from the Mobile County District Attorney
- Notifications of the unexcused absence is sent by a phone call to parents/guardians
- Monitor and track attendance
Fifth Unexcused Absence:
- Student is considered a truant
- An Attendance Officer with the Mobile County Public School System makes contact with the parents/guardians
- Student and/or Parent are referred to attend the Early Warning Truancy Program sponsored by the Mobile County District Attorney’s office and the Mobile County Public School System.
Over Five Unexcused Absences:
- Student is considered a truant
- The Attendance Officer with the Mobile County Public School System continues to stay in contact with the parents/guardians
- Failure to comply and the student continues with unexcused absences, a Court Petition may be filed by the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office or the Mobile County Public School System against the parent/guardian and/or the student.
- Students and or parents/guardians are linked with services as identified by the Court.
- The student and/or parent/guardian could face jail time, court fees, probation, or conviction of truancy on their record.