(a)Mandatory attendance in a public school, private school, or home school program shall be required for children between their sixth and sixteenth birthdays. Such mandatory attendance shall not be required where the child has successfully completed all requirements for a high school diploma.
(b)Every parent, guardian, or other person residing within this state having control or charge of any child or children during the ages of mandatory attendance as required in subsection (a) of this Code section shall enroll and send such child or children to a public school, a private school, or a home study program that meets the requirements for a public school, a private school, or a home study program; and such child shall be responsible for enrolling in and attending a public school, a private school, or a home study program that meets the requirements for a public school, a private school, or a home study program under such penalty for noncompliance with this subsection as is provided in Chapter 11 of Title 15, unless the child's failure to enroll and attend is caused by the child's parent, guardian, or other person, in which case the parent, guardian, or other person alone shall be responsible; provided, however, that tests and physical exams for military service and the National Guard and such other approved absences shall be excused absences. The requirements of this subsection shall apply to a child during the ages of mandatory attendance as required in subsection (a) of this Code section who has been assigned by a local board of education or its delegate to attend an alternative public school program established by that local board of education, including an alternative public school program provided for in Code Section 202-154.1, regardless of whether such child has been suspended or expelled from another public school program by that local board of education or its delegate, and to the parent, guardian, or other person residing in this state who has control or charge of such child. Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to require a local board of education or its delegate to assign a child to attend an alternative public school program rather than suspending or expelling the child.
(c) Any parent, guardian, or other person residing in this state who has control or charge of a child or children and who shall violate this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine not less than $25.00 and not greater than $100.00, imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, community service, or any combination of such penalties, at the discretion of the court having jurisdiction. Each day's absence from school in violation of this part after the child's school system notifies the parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a child of five unexcused days of absence for a child shall constitute a separate offense. After two reasonable attempts to notify the parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a child of five unexcused days of absence without response, the school system shall send a notice to such parent, guardian, or other person by certified mail, return receipt requested. Public schools shall provide to the parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of each child enrolled in public school a written summary of possible consequences and penalties for failing to comply with compulsory attendance under this Code section for children and their parents, guardians, or other persons having control or charge of children. The parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a child or children shall sign a statement indicating receipt of such written statement of possible consequences and penalties; children who are age ten years or older by September 1 shall sign a statement indicating receipt of such written statement of possible consequences and penalties. After two reasonable attempts by the school to secure such signature or signatures, the school shall be considered to be in compliance with this subsection if it sends a copy of the statement, via certified mail, return receipt requested, to such parent, guardian, other person who has control or charge of a child, or children. Public schools shall retain signed copies of statements through the end of the school year.
(d)Local school superintendents in the case of private schools or home study programs and visiting teachers and attendance officers in the case of public schools shall have authority and it shall be their duty to file proceedings in court to enforce this subpart.
(e)An unemancipated minor who is older than the age of mandatory attendance as required in subsection (a) of this Code section who has not completed all requirements for a high school diploma who wishes to withdraw from school shall have the written permission of his or her parent or legal guardian prior to withdrawing. Prior to accepting such permission, the school principal or designee shall convene a conference with the child and parent or legal guardian within two school days of receiving notice of the intent of the child to withdraw from school. The principal or designee shall make a reasonable attempt to share with the student and parent or guardian the educational options available, including the opportunity to pursue a general educational development (GED) diploma and the consequences of not having earned a high school diploma, including lower lifetime earnings, fewer jobs for which the student will be qualified, and the inability to avail oneself of higher educational opportunities. Every local board of education shall adopt a policy on the process of voluntary withdrawal of unemancipated minors who are older than the mandatory attendance age. The policy shall be filed with the Department of Education no later than January 1, 2007. The Department of Education shall provide annually to all local school superintendents model forms for the parent or guardian signature requirement contained in this subsection and updated information from reliable sources relating to the consequences of withdrawing from school without completing all requirements for a high school diploma. Such form shall include information relating to the opportunity to pursue a general educational development (GED) diploma and the consequences of not having earned a high school diploma, including lower lifetime earnings, fewer jobs for which the student will be qualified, and the inability to avail oneself of higher educational opportunities. Each local school superintendent shall provide such forms and information to all of its principals of schools serving grades six through twelve for the principals to use during the required conference with the child and parent or legal guardian.
§ 20-2-690.2. Establishment of student attendance protocol committee; membership and protocol; summary of penalties for failure to comply; reporting
(a) The chief judge of the superior court of each county shall establish a student attendance protocol committee for its county. The purpose of the committee shall be to ensure coordination and cooperation among officials, agencies, and programs involved in compulsory attendance issues, to reduce the number of unexcused absences from school, and to increase the percentage of students present to take tests which are required to be administered under the laws of this state. The chief judge is responsible for ensuring that all members of the committee are notified of their responsibility to the committee and shall call the first meeting of the committee in each county. The committee shall elect a chairperson and may elect other officers.
(b) Each local board of education shall participate in, consider, and make publicly available, including but not limited to posting in a conspicuous location, its decision regarding the recommendations of the committee as provided in this Code section. Independent school systems may participate in the committee in the county where the system is located. Independent school systems whose geographic area encompasses more than one county may select one of such counties in which to participate. An independent school system that elects not to participate in the committee of the county where it is located shall request that the chief judge of the superior court of a county encompassed by its geographic area to establish an independent student attendance protocol committee in the same manner as established for the county school system.
(c) Each of the following agencies, officials, or programs shall designate a representative to serve on the committee:
(1) The chief judge of the superior court;
(2) The juvenile court judge or judges of the county;
(3) The district attorney for the county;
(4) The solicitor-general of state court, if the county has a state court;
(5) The Department of Juvenile Justice, which may include representatives from area juvenile detention facilities as defined in Code Section 49-4A-1;
(6) The superintendent, a certificated school employee, and a local school board member from each public school system in the county and a certificated school social worker from each public school system, if any are employed by the school system;
(7) The sheriff of the county;
(8) The chief of police of the county police department;
(9) The chief of police of each municipal police department in the county;
(10) The county department of family and children services;
(11) The county board of health;
(12) The county mental health organization;
(13) The county Family Connection commission, board, or authority, or other county agency, board, authority, or commission having the duty and authority to study problems of families, children, and youth and provide services to families, children, and youth; and
(14) The court approved community based risk reduction program established by the juvenile court in accordance with Code Section 15-11-38, if such a program has been established.
(d) The committee thus established may appoint such additional members as necessary and proper to accomplish the purposes of the committee.
(e) Each committee shall, by June 1, 2005, adopt a written student attendance protocol for its county school system and for each independent school system within its geographic boundaries which shall be filed with the Department of Education. The protocol shall outline in detail the procedures to be used in identifying, reporting, investigating, and prosecuting cases of alleged violations of Code Section 20-2-690.1, relating to mandatory school attendance. The protocol shall outline in detail methods for determining the causes of failing to comply with compulsory attendance and appropriately addressing the issue with children and their parents or guardians. The protocol shall also include recommendations for policies relating to tardiness. The Department of Education shall provide model school attendance protocols, if requested by the committee.
(f) A copy of the protocol shall be furnished to each agency, official, or program within the county that has any responsibility in assisting children and their parents or guardians in complying with Code Section 20-2-690.1.
(g) The committee shall write the summary of possible consequences and penalties for failing to comply with compulsory attendance under Code Section 20-2-690.1 for children and their parents, guardians, or other persons who have control or charge of children for distribution by schools in accordance with Code Section 20-2-690.1. The summary of possible consequences for children shall include possible dispositions for children in need of services and possible denial or suspension of a driver's license for a child in accordance with Code Section 40-5-22.
(h) The committee shall continue in existence after writing the student attendance protocol. The chief judge of the superior court of each county shall ensure that the committee meets at least quarterly during the first year, and twice annually thereafter, to evaluate compliance with the protocol, effectiveness of the protocol, and appropriate modifications.
(i) Each local board of education shall report student attendance rates to the committee and the State Board of Education at the end of each school year, according to a schedule established by the State Board of Education.
§ 20-2-697. Cooperation of principals and teachers in public schools with visiting teachers and attendance officers; attendance reports and records kept by public schools; letter indicating enrollment
(a) Visiting teachers and attendance officers shall receive the cooperation and assistance of all teachers and principals of public schools in the local school systems within which they are appointed to serve. It shall be the duty of the principals or local school site administrators and of the teachers of all public schools to report, in writing, to the visiting teacher or attendance officer of the local school system the names, ages, and residences of all students in attendance at their schools and classes within 30 days after the beginning of the school term or terms and to make such other reports of attendance in their schools or classes as may be required by rule or regulation of the State Board of Education. All public schools shall keep daily records of attendance, verified by the teachers certifying such records. Such reports shall be open to inspection by the visiting teacher, attendance officer, or duly authorized representative at any time during the school day. Any such attendance records and reports which identify students by name shall be used only for the purpose of providing necessary attendance information required by the state board or by law, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child, pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction, or for verification of attendance by the Department of Public Safety for the purposes set forth in subsection
(a.1) of Code Section 40-5-22. Such attendance records shall also be maintained in a format which does not identify students by name, and in this format shall be a part of the data collected for the student record component of the state-wide comprehensive educational information system pursuant to subsection
(b) of Code Section 20-2-320. (a.1) Any student shall have the right to request and receive, within three business days from the date of such request, a letter from his or her school administrator indicating that the student is enrolled full-time and has an attendance record in good standing for the current academic year. (b) Any person failing to carry out the duties required by subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00.
(c) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to private schools or home study programs, and enrollment and attendance information required for private schools or home study programs and penalties for failure to comply with such requirements shall be as provided in Code Section 20-2-690.
§ 20-2-701. Responsibility for reporting truants to juvenile or other courts
(a) Local school superintendents as applied to private schools, the Department of Education as applied to home study programs, or visiting teachers and attendance officers as applied to public schools, after written notice to the parent or guardian of a child, shall report to the juvenile or other court having jurisdiction under Chapter 11 of Title 15 any child who is absent from a public or private school or a home study program in violation of this subpart. If the judge of the court places such child in a home or in a public or private institution pursuant to Chapter 11 of Title 15, school shall be provided for such child. The Department of Education shall coordinate with local school superintendents with respect to attendance records and notification for students in home study programs.
(b) Local school superintendents or visiting teachers and attendance officers shall use their best efforts to notify any child 14 years of age or older who has only three absences remaining prior to violating the attendance requirements contained in subsection (a.1) of Code Section 40-5-22. Such notification shall be made via first-class mail.
(c) Local school superintendents or visiting teachers and attendance officers shall report to the State Board of Education, which shall, in turn, report to the Department of Driver Services any child 14 years of age or older who does not meet the attendance requirements contained in subsection (a.1) of Code Section 40-5-22. Such report shall include the child's name, current address, and social security number, if known.
(d) Subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section shall not be effective until full implementation of the state-wide education information system.
§ 20-2-720. Inspection of students' records by parents
No local school system, whether county, independent, or area, shall have a policy of denying, or which effectively prevents, the parents of students who are in attendance at or who have been enrolled in any facility within such system the right to inspect and review the education records of their child. A parent shall be entitled to inspect and review only information relating to his or her own child and if any material or document in a child's record includes information on another student, such information regarding any other student shall not be made available for inspection or review except to the parents of that student. Both parents of a child shall be entitled to inspect and review the education records of their child or to be provided information concerning their child's progress. Information concerning a child's education record shall not be withheld from the noncustodial parent unless a court order has specifically removed the right of the noncustodial parent to such information or unless parental rights have been terminated. For purposes of this Code section, "education records" shall include attendance reports and records.