School Attendance

School Attendance is Required by Law

Minnesota law requires that every child between 7 and 17 years of age must receive an education. Minnesota State Statute 120.A22 requires that every child from age 7, or upon enrollment in school, is required to attend school each and every day and every class period.

If a student misses a school day, or part of a school day for legitimate reasons, a parent or guardian must notify the school. Otherwise, the absence could be considered an unexcused absence.

School Attendance Intervention Program

Minnesota law provides that programs may be established to support families and children in combating truancy and educational neglect without invoking the court process. The School Attendance Intervention Program is a continuum of progressively intrusive involvement and support, beginning with strong service-oriented efforts at the school and community level, and involving the court's authority only when necessary.

Schools are expected to respond to early levels of truancy and make meaningful efforts to engage the student and parent(s)/guardian(s) to address attendance issues prior to referring a student for county intervention.

Educational Neglect (Students ages 11 and younger)

Educational neglect refers to when a student's education is impacted by their lack of attendance.

The law presumes that it is a parental responsibility to ensure attendance for children ages 11 and younger. State law allows for programs to divert families from child protection intervention due to educational neglect. The matter can eventually be referred to child protection services if the issues are not resolved.

Truancy (Students ages 12 and older)

When a student is absent from one or more class periods over seven different days without a valid excuse, they are considered "habitual truants." Truancy can be a sign to bigger issues like alcohol or drug use, family problems, physical and/or mental health problems, peer pressure, bullying, or child neglect.

For students, ages 12 and older, it is primarily the student's responsibility to attend school and the parent's responsibility to compel their child to attend school.

School's Responsibility

Regarding school attendance, educational neglect, and truancy, the school must:

  1. Keep precise attendance records and document interactions with students and parents/guardians regarding attendance.
  2. Submit referrals for educational neglect and truancy.

Students who are frequently absent and their parents can be petitioned to court to find solutions to the truancy problem. However, schools and Washington County provide a variety of interventions and services to help students and families. Court action is a last resort after trying different ways to help the student attend school regularly.

Minnesota Statute Section 260A.02 Subd. 3: Continuing truant. 

"Continuing truant" is defined as a child who is required to attend school and is absent from school without valid excuse within a single school year for:

  1. Three days if the child is in elementary school; or
  2. Three or more class periods on three days if the child is in middle school, junior high school, or high school.

Minnesota Statute Section 260C.007, Subd. 19: Habitual Truant. 

A child is considered a “habitual truant” if the child is under the age of 17 years and is absent from attendance at school without lawful excuse for one or more class periods on seven school days per school year.

Minnesota Statute Section 120A.22, Subd. 8: Withdrawal from school. 

For any student who is 17 years old who seeks to withdraw from school, and the student's parent or guardian must:

  1. Attend a meeting with school personnel to discuss the educational opportunities available to the student, including alternative educational opportunities; and
  2. Sign a written election to withdraw from school.