Skipping school might seem like a harmless or normal part of being a kid – until parents get into serious legal trouble. The legal word for skipping school is “truancy,” and it could end up with a criminal case against your family. Learning Georgia’s truancy laws can help you avoid a criminal record as a parent, as well as serious negative consequences for your kids. Here’s the information you need to know about a child missing too many classes in Georgia.
Definition of Truancy in Georgia
It’s normal for a child to have to miss a few days of school because of illnesses, doctor’s appointments, and family emergencies. When a child skips classes or full days too often, however, it could qualify as truancy. Truancy, or absenteeism, describes a child who stays away from school without a good reason. Truancy is a crime in Georgia – not for the child, but for the parents.
It is a parent’s duty to make sure that his or her child attends school. Georgia has a state attendance law that makes it mandatory for all children to get some sort of schooling, whether in an established school system or from homeschooling. Most other states have similar compulsory education rules. If a child has more than five unexcused absences in a school calendar year, he or she is a “truant” in the eyes of Georgia law.
Different schools can have different attendance policies. Make sure to read your child’s attendance policies to avoid breaking them. In general, you will need to write a letter explaining the reason for your child’s absence from school. The school may request more proof or information. The school will notify parents after children have missed school without an excuse for five days. Parents and children over the age of 10 will have to sign a statement that shows they received the notification. Another unexcused absence after this could lead to criminal consequences.
Criminal Charges for Parents
Permitting your child to skip school or failing to write absence notes for six different unexcused days off is a violation of Georgia’s compulsory education laws. For every unexcused absence after receiving a notice of truancy, parents receive separate offenses. Breaking this law could result in fines of $25 to $100 for each offense, as well as mandatory community service and/or up to 30 days in jail.
Receiving criminal charges for your child’s truancy could result in convictions on your permanent record. Spending time in jail could also result in the loss of your job or even custody of your child. After 10 unexcused absences in a single school year, the juvenile courts may take official supervision of your child, deeming him or her “in need of services.” Ultimately, this could end in your child going through the system or entering foster care.
Truancy Consequences for Kids
Skipping school doesn’t have penalties only for parents. While Georgia law does not criminalize children for unexcused absences, the truant student could suffer other consequences in his or her personal life and at school. Truancy legal actions could have the following impacts on a child’s life:
- Failing a grade and needing to repeat it
- Expulsion from school
- Losing friends
- Attending hearings with the juvenile courts
- Going under the juvenile court’s supervision
- Going into an institution or foster care
- Separation from friends and family
Issues within a family relating to truancy could have a lasting effect on a child’s life. He or she might feel embarrassed or not good enough if he or she has to stay back a grade because of missed school. Entrance into foster care can lead to many different emotional and psychological problems. Always do your best as a parent to prevent truancy and its consequences to you and your child.
If you need help fighting a truancy charge, contact the experienced Georgia lawyers at Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C., today. Our criminal defense attorneys have experience on both sides of the courtroom to build defense strategies that work.