Truancy an Issue as Summer Vacation Nears

As summer vacation nears, many schools in Utah see an uptick in truancy, making it one last problem to work out before the end of the school year.

Taking summer vacation early

Photo by: Jaap Joris

In preparation for summer vacation, most teachers spend the last days or weeks of school tying up loose ends and grading papers, leaving their students to wonder what the purpose is in coming to school. If their finals are completed and assignments are no longer being accepted, what is to stop them from starting their summer vacation early?

Required school days

The State of Utah requires that school age minors attend school for 180 days a year with allowances for occasional absences due to: an illness, family emergency, or school functions such as out of town sports competition. Being the end of the school year is not accepted as a reason for not showing up to class. When a student misses school on a regular basis without a valid excuse, it is considered truancy.

Truancy laws

Photo by: Christopher Webb
Photo by: Christopher Webb

Utah Code 53A-11-1 discusses punishment of truancy by stating when a student over the age of 12 has been truant at least five times during one school year they may be given a notice of truancy. If they are truant 10 times or they do not “cooperate with efforts on the part of school authorities to resolve the minor’s attendance problem ( . . . )” they are considered to be a habitual truant and will be issued a habitual truant citation. The only exceptions to this is if the student is maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA and is 16 years of age or older.

Juvenile court

When a student is given a habitual truant citation, they are then at the mercy of the juvenile court system and can face fines or juvenile detention. Not only are the students at risk of getting into trouble, so are their parents. Parents who “intentionally or recklessly fail to meet with the designated school authorities, or fail to prevent the school age child from being absent without a valid excuse” may face a class B misdemeanor and jail time. Students and parents are encouraged to stick it out for the remainder of the school year and seek an attorney if truancy issues have already included the criminal or juvenile courts.

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