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Attendance Alert (Student has 1-3 unexcused absences)
The school sends a written notification (attendance alert letter) to the parents and student regarding the school attendance issue with a warning that a failure to improve will result in a referral to the Truancy Intervention Program (TIP).
TIP Step 1: Parent and Student Group Meeting (Student has 3 or more unexcused absences)
The student and parents are required by the County Attorney's Office to attend a large-group meeting at the school. At this meeting, an Assistant Ramsey County Attorney explains the Minnesota Compulsory Attendance Law, the legal and social consequences of poor school attendance, and the TIP process. Students and families can ask questions, and are told that they will be referred to an individualized conference with the county attorney, and ultimately petitioned to court, if attendance does not improve.
TIP Step 2: School Attendance Review Team Hearing (SART) (Student has 5-7 unexcused absences)
At this step, school administrators, school social workers or counselors, an assistant county attorney, a probation officer and the parents and students meet one-on-one to create a plan for successful school attendance. The plan is then formalized into a written attendance contract, which is then signed by all of the SART hearing participants.
Referrals to social services agencies, chemical dependency evaluations, mental health evaluations and individual or family counseling are often included as terms of the contract to assist the family in dealing with the underlying causes of poor attendance.
Students are required by the SART contract to attend each of their classes, every day and on time unless they have a lawful excuse. Parents are also required, as a part of the SART plan, to take action to ensure their students’ successful school attendance. Those actions can include such things as waking their children on time for school, making sure their children have reliable transportation to school, keeping in touch with teachers and school attendance personnel, and making sure that their family follows through with any programming or services that are required by the SART contract.
If attendance does not improve after the SART hearing, the process moves to the third and final step of TIP, the filing of a truancy petition in Juvenile Court and an expedited hearing.
TIP Step 3: Juvenile Court (Student has 7 – 10 unexcused absences)
Most truancy petitions are resolved at the initial court hearing with an admission by the students that he or she is an “habitual truant” within the meaning of the law. The student is then adjudicated “child in need of protection or services.”
Dispositions usually include a period of supervised probation with a probation officer, typically for a period of at least six months, and an order that the student follow the probations officers’ terms and conditions of probation and recommendations for services or programming. Students are also ordered by the court to attend school daily unless they have a lawful excuse that they properly communicate to their school. Dispositions for adjudicated truants can also include, among other things, the cancellation of driving privileges up to age 18, court-ordered community service work, a fine of up to $100, and placement of the student out of his or her family’s home at a licensed shelter home, foster homes or group homes on a temporary basis.
It is the goal of the TIP, through the first two steps of the program, to avoid the filing of truancy petitions whenever possible. When the initial efforts of TIP are not successful, however, court-ordered consequences and services are essential in capturing the attention of these students and modifying their behavior toward successful school attendance.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office believes that intervention by influential adults into students’ lives will result in positive impacts on student behavior, school attendance and achievement. The TIP process is designed to assist school personnel and parents in making meaningful interventions that successfully modify students’ behavior and improve their academic achievement, while also preventing many children from becoming entangled in the juvenile justice system.
To achieve the primary goal of improving school attendance TIP collaborates with over 79 community-based and private organizations, 6 school districts, Ramsey County Community Corrections, Ramsey County Community Human Services and Ramsey County Juvenile Court. All of these agencies work together with parents and students to stop truancy as quickly as possible. The program sends a clear and consistent message that education, personal responsibility and respect for the law are important values in our community. TIP is an intervention model that is easy to access and provides continuous support of school and parent efforts to help students learn, achieve and grow into productive citizens of our community.