House Bill 410 Brings Significant Changes to Ohio’s Truancy Law

Last month, the legislature passed a law revamping Ohio’s truancy law.  House Bill 410, which effectively decriminalizes truancy, is currently waiting for the Governor’s signature.  The bill shifts the burden back to schools to take additional steps to bring students to class before utilizing the court system.  Proponents of the bill hope that the revisions will help find the true cause of each student’s absence and allow the school to resolve it.

The bill now defines “habitual truants” as students that miss more than 30 consecutive hours, 42 or more hours in a month, or 72 or more hours in a school year.  The prior designation of “chronic truant” has been eliminated.  Now, when a student reaches the level of an habitual truant, the school district must assign the student to an absence intervention team comprised of at least two district staff members and the student’s parent or guardian.  The assignment must be made within 10 days of the student reaching the habitual truant level.  The intervention team must, within 14 days, develop an intervention plan for the student focused on reducing or eliminating further absences.  If needed, the intervention team can contact the juvenile court to request that the student be informally enrolled in an alternative to adjudication to assist with absenteeism.

On the 61st day after assignment to the intervention team, if the student has refused to participate in or failed to make satisfactory progress on the intervention plan, or continues to have absences that reach the level of an habitual truant after being assigned to the intervention team, the school must file a complaint with juvenile court.

The bill exempts schools that have a truancy rate of less than 5% from having to create intervention teams.  They are permitted to use their current methods to address absenteeism.

Additionally, starting on July 1, 2017, schools are not permitted to suspend, expel, or remove a student from school based solely upon the student’s unexcused absences.  Finally, starting in the 2017-2018 school year, schools must adopt a new policy or amend their policy to provide guidance to staff about addressing and remedying student absences.

A copy of the current bill can be found here.

 

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