The goal of our Partners Against Chronic Truancy (PACT) Intervention Program is to provide support to schools as the schools provide K-12 students early assessment, intervention, and remediation of the factors related to Chronic Truancy.
The focus of PACT is to aid students and their families in re-establishing regular attendance, normal school habits, and academic success. Students with attendance problems are eligible for participation in the Partners for Chronic Truancy Intervention Program. Members of the PACT team include all key stakeholders in the area and have primary responsibilities for servicing the youth in the region. The collaborative efforts between the ROE, local school districts, the alternative school administration, and government and social service agencies have a historical pattern that is both strong and significant, which has led to many past student successes. Each member of the PACT Team knows community support and collaboration is the key to a student’s academic, social emotional and personal successes. With that in mind, the group was able to identify areas of improvement to the existing program and has developed a more comprehensive approach that will ensure students have more equitable access to education by creating optional education opportunities as well as truancy prevention and intervention services.
If attendance does not improve following intervention services provided first by the school and subsequently the PACT Team, the student may be subject to truancy proceedings initiated by the Regional Office of Education. These proceedings can include referral to the court system.
TRUANCY AT A GLANCE
Truancy is defined as absent without a valid cause. A student’s school will mark a student absent unexcused when the student is absent without a valid cause. Valid causes for absences can include: illness, death of an immediate family member, doctor/dentist/counseling appointment, religious need, and more. (See your school’s handbook for local policy.) Schools typically allow parents to “call in” these types of absences. When a student exceeds the school’s limit for excused absences, or when a student misses school without a valid cause, the school may determine that an absence is unexcused. Unexcused absences are taken into consideration when determining if a student is considered chronically truant.
In the state of Illinois, a Chronic Truant is any student subject to compulsory school attendance who is absent without valid cause for 5% of the previous 180 school days. A school year has approximately 180 days. 5% of the school year is 9 days. A student’s truancy may be contained to one school year or fall over a period of more than one school year.
Once a student has been identified by school personnel as truant by demonstrating repeated unexcused absences and failing to respond to local intervention efforts (home visits, counselor conferences, parent communication, etc.) the school district will complete the Truancy Referral Form and submit to the Regional Office of Education #21 Truancy Intervention Program.
The school MUST send the required data (attendance, interventions, credits, and other relevant information).
The ROE 21 Truancy Interventionist will generate a truancy letter and send it to the family.
If truancy continues, the Truancy Interventionist or school personnel will initiate the Step 2 process (add link), which consists of a meeting with the PACT Team (school representative, teacher, parent, student, and Truancy Interventionist) to discuss available services, interventions, and recommendations in order to improve school attendance.
The school MUST send the required updated data (attendance, interventions, credits, and other relevant information).
The ROE 21 Truancy Interventionist will generate another letter of communication with the family to set up a time for the meeting. Open communication with the student and family is important in building a trusting relationship and to reinforce the importance of school attendance.
If truancy persists, the Truancy Interventionist and school personnel will initiate Step 3 (add link) of the Truancy Intervention Process with the county court system. Step 3 consists of a Truancy Review Board (TRB) meeting. This meeting will include the County State’s Attorney, Truancy Interventionist, Probation Officer, Court Services, Mental Health Agencies, DCFS, and School Administrators.
The school MUST provide attendance, grades, and discipline reports. The goal of the TRB is to attempt to assist families with strategies to improve attendance and when needed, to connect families with appropriate services. The TRB also informs students and parents of Illinois Statutes and makes recommendations.
The County State’s Attorney’s office will generate a letter of communication setting up a time for the TRB. This is the last opportunity for students to improve their attendance prior to facing a judge in court.
If truancy continues, the Truancy Interventionist in collaboration with school personnel will submit a petition to file (add link) with the County State’s Attorney. The State’s Attorney may file in adult criminal court for permitting truancy, and/or against your child in juvenile court for truancy.
The County State’s Attorney’s office will send a Summons with the court date and time .
A judge will make decisions regarding the student’s education and welfare. A school representative should plan to attend any court hearings.