It is hard to believe we are already halfway through the school year. Continuing an emphasis on the importance of daily attendance, I thought the following information would be of interest. Minnesota has a compulsory school attendance law which outlines various expectations and requirements. This information is contained in Minnesota Statute 120A.22 COMPULSORY INSTRUCTION.
Subdivision 1. Parental responsibility.
The parent of a child is primarily responsible for assuring that the child acquires knowledge and skills that are essential for effective citizenship.
Subd. 4. School defined.
For the purpose of compulsory attendance, a "school" means a public school, as defined in section 120A.05, subdivisions 9, 11, 13, and 17, or a nonpublic school, church or religious organization, or home school in which a child is provided instruction in compliance with this section and section 120A.24.
Subd. 5. Ages and terms.
(a) Every child between seven and 17 years of age must receive instruction unless the child has graduated. Every child under the age of seven who is enrolled in a half-day kindergarten, or a full-day kindergarten program on alternate days, or other kindergarten programs shall receive instruction. Except as provided in subdivision 6, a parent may withdraw a child under the age of seven from enrollment at any time.
(b) A school district by annual board action may require children subject to this subdivision to receive instruction in summer school. A district that acts to require children to receive instruction in summer school shall establish at the time of its action the criteria for determining which children must receive instruction.
Minnesota Statute 120A.22 includes legitimate reasons why a student can miss school. School districts may also have an attendance policy that includes other legitimate reasons to be excused from school.
Minnesota Statute states the following: Legitimate exemptions. A parent, guardian, or other person having control of a child may apply to a school district to have the child excused from attendance for the whole or any part of the time school is in session during any school year. Application may be made to any member of the board, a truant officer, a principal, or the superintendent. The school district may state in its school attendance policy that it may ask the student's parent or legal guardian to verify in writing the reason for the child's absence from school. A note from a physician or a licensed mental health professional stating that the child cannot attend school is a valid excuse.
The board of the district in which the child resides may approve the application upon the following being demonstrated to the satisfaction of that board:
(1) that the child's physical or mental health is such as to prevent attendance at school or application to study for the period required, which includes:
(i) child illness, medical, dental, orthodontic, or counseling appointments;
(ii) family emergencies;
(iii) the death or serious illness or funeral of an immediate family member;
(iv) active duty in any military branch of the United States;
(v) the child has a condition that requires ongoing treatment for a mental health diagnosis; or
(vi) other exemptions included in the district's school attendance policy;
(2) that the child has already completed state and district standards required for graduation from high school; or
(3) that it is the wish of the parent, guardian, or other person having control of the child, that the child attend for a period or periods not exceeding in the aggregate three hours in any week, a school for religious instruction conducted and maintained by some church, or association of churches, or any Sunday school association incorporated under the laws of this state, or any auxiliary thereof. This school for religious instruction must be conducted and maintained in a place other than a public school building, and it must not, in whole or in part, be conducted and maintained at public expense. However, a child may be absent from school on such days as the child attends upon instruction according to the ordinances of some church.
The school district ultimately determines whether or not the parent has demonstrated one of the listed exemptions, or one of the school district’s additional exemptions. If parents/guardians are unable to resolve this on the school level, the next step would be to contact the district superintendent.
Of all the factors that can impact a student’s success in school, consistent daily attendance may be the most important. The community’s efforts and commitment in ensuring our child(ren) are in school every day is greatly appreciated.