As kids head back to school after the long winter break, parents should take the opportunity to talk to their teens about school truancy laws in Utah.
Mandatory school attendance
With the second half of the school year upon Utah families, minors may begin feeling more indifferent about their school attendance. Although most kids have a healthy fear of getting in trouble with their parents, they may not realize ditching school can result in legal penalties as well. According to Utah State Law, students between the ages of six and eighteen years old are expected to be enrolled and attending school until they graduate. Failure to enroll or attend school will end in trouble for the student and the parent.
Ditching school once or twice won’t get a kid in legal trouble, but if they start missing too many days without a valid excuse such as illness or school related activity, school administrators take more notice and may claim the minor is a habitual truant. Utah Code 53A-11-101 defines a habitual truant as “a school-age minor who:
a) Is at least 12 years old;
b) Is subject to the [Compulsory Education] requirements (…) and;
c) (i) is truant at least 10 times during one school year; or
(ii) Fails to cooperate with efforts on the part of school authorities to resolve the minor’s attendance problem as required ( . . . )”
Cited and punished
Once a student has at least five absences that are not excused, they along with their parents are issued a compulsory education violation and expected to meet with school administration to discuss attendance. Utah Code 53A-11-101.5 warns that if they fail to meet with the school or are truant an additional 5 days or more, the parents of students may face a class B misdemeanor for not ensuring their kids are in school and the student may be fined and taken to a truancy support center. For more information regarding truancy laws, it is recommended to speak to your child’s school administrators or an attorney.