School Attendance/Truancy Concerns
Truancy is a societal problem that can negatively impact student success and achievement in our schools. For most young people, truancy is a gradual process of disengagement, beginning with early warning signs. The Belle Fourche School District has been seeking ways to recognize these warning signs so that timely support can be offered to students and parents to address the underlying reasons for missing school. As part of our efforts to support students with regular school attendance, we will be working with the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Fourth Circuit Court system to establish a Truancy Diversion Program.
Belle Fourche School District Truancy Diversion Program
Under this project, school district administrators can refer any student with five unexcused absences OR excessive excused absences to the Truancy Diversion Program for discussion. The first step in this program is communication between the schools and home when absences compile and begin to negatively affect student success. If school attendance continues to be a concern, a report will be sent to the Truancy Diversion Program. A staffing meeting between school officials, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and Court officials will then take place. The outcome of this meeting will be to decide what action to take. Action may result in the decision to defer any juvenile action or send a letter to parents. The decision may also result in the child or their parents being sent to court. The decision will be based on the unique circumstances of every case.
Additional Information on Truancy in South Dakota Schools:
South Dakota takes truancy seriously. If a child is truant, he or she may be issued a citation under South Dakota Codified Laws (SDCL) Section 26-7A. This citation requires the truant child and his/her parents to appear in court, where a Judge can refer the child to a juvenile diversion program, impose a fine of up to $100, and impose a community service requirement. The Judge can also require the child and his/her parents to return to report attendance. If the pattern of truancy continues, the child can be brought to court on a Child in Need of Supervision Petition, where the Judge can place the child on probation, send them to the Juvenile Services Center for up to seven days, place the child in alternative education programs, order counseling, and impose a fine of up to $500. Additionally, South Dakota law recognizes that parents of school-aged children have an obligation to ensure their child attends school. As a result, parents who do not ensure their child attends school can face criminal misdemeanor charges.