Complying with the Compulsory School Attendance Law
Parents need to know that all students in Lake County Area Schools are expected to attend school every day. The Compulsory School Attendance Law states that whoever has custody or control of any child between the ages of 6 and 17 years (changed starting with the 2014-2015 school year) must send the child to a public or private day school on a regular basis.
- Truant: A child who is absent without valid cause from school
- Chronic Truant: A child who is absent without valid cause from school for 5% (Changed from 10% in July 2011) or more of the previous 180 regular attendance days
- Truant Minor: a chronic truant to whom supportive services, including prevention, diagnostic, intervention and remedial services, alternative programs and other school and community resources have been provided and have failed to result in the cessation of chronic truancy, or have been offered and refused
- Valid Causes of Absence: Illness, observation of a religious holiday, death in the family, and family emergency
Poor attendance can affect students' grades. Students must be present in order to successfully learn skills, take tests, and keep up with the required class work. All schools have their own attendance guidelines; however, schools generally require a written statement explaining the reason for the child's absence along with medical verification when applicable. A medical certificate stating that the child may return to school is needed when a child has been absent from school for 5 or more consecutive days.
If the parent is having difficulty getting the child to attend school regularly, or if family problems are affecting the child's attendance, the parent should contact the teacher, school social worker, counselor, or principal for help.
Possibility of Referral
Parents should know that students within the compulsory school attendance age who are excessively absent or tardy may be referred to the school social worker or dean for help with school attendance. If the school dean or social worker’s efforts in working with the parents and the child are not successful, the case may be referred to the Lake County Regional Office of Education. ATD (Attendance and Truancy Division), the Lake County center for dropout prevention, will assist the school in developing new strategies and techniques for working with the child. If there is no improvement in the child’s attendance, and the school has exhausted all available resources, the school can request a truancy hearing at the Regional Office of Education. If attendance still does not improve, the case may be referred to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Any person having custody or control of a child to whom notice has been given of the child’s truancy and who knowingly and willfully permits such a child to persist in his truancy within that school year can be fined or sentenced up to 30 days in jail on a Class C misdemeanor if they are found to be negligent.
Truant Minor in Need of Supervision
If the student is found to be a Truant Minor in Need of Supervision, they may be ordered to:
- Comply with an Individualized Educational Plan or Service Plan as specifically provided by the appropriate Regional Office of Education;
- To obtain counseling for other supportive services;
- Subject to a fine in an amount in excess of $5, but not exceeding $100, and each day of absences without valid cause as defined in Section 26-2A of the school code is a separate offense;
- Required to perform some reasonable public services work such as, but not limited to, the picking up of litter in public parks or along public highways or the maintenance of public facilities; or
- Subject to having his or her driver’s license or privilege suspended.
What is Truancy?
According to the U.S. Department of Education's Manual to Combat Truancy:
- "Truancy is the first sign of trouble; the first indicator that a young person is giving up and losing his or her way. When young people start skipping school, they are telling their parents, school officials, and the community at large that they are in trouble and need our help if they are to keep moving forward in life..."
Statistics show that what may be "just truancy" today, can lead to:
- Potential delinquent activity
- Social isolation
- Educational failure via:
- Dropping out
Compulsory School Age in Illinois
The compulsory school age in Illinois is 6-17 years of age.
The most recent change to the Compulsory School age in Illinois took effect as of July 1, 2014. Senate Bill 1307 changes the compulsory school age from 7-17 to 6-17. It stipulates that students that turn 6 on or before September 1, 2014 are required to attend school. The previous change to the compulsory age took effect on January 1, 2005, at that time, the compulsory school age changed to 7-17, from 7-16.
This means that any 16 year-old student that as of December 31, 2004 was still enrolled in school cannot drop out until they are 17 years old. Subsequently, any student that is under the age of 17 cannot dropout of school until his/her 17th birthday.