A child between seven and 18 years of age must attend school (Minnesota Statute 120A.22, subd. 5(a))
. Under Minnesota Statute 120A.22, subd. 1
, it is the primary responsibility of parents or guardians to assure that their children acquire knowledge and skills that are essential for effective citizenship.
Children must attend school every day and be on time unless they have a lawful reason for being absent.
Lawful reasons include:
- Religious Observances: Required by the student’s religion.
- Illness: A parent or guardian must verify the student’s illness. The law permits school personnel to require the family to provide medical verification or to see the school nurse. Medical appointments that cannot be scheduled outside school hours may also be lawfully excused.
- Family Emergency: Examples are house fire, critical injury to parent/guardian, or the funeral of a close family member.
If a child is under 12 years of age, the child’s failure to attend school is presumed to be educational neglect by the parent/guardian. A child is “educationally neglected” if the child is absent from school due to the failure of the parent to comply with the compulsory education laws (Minnesota Statute 260C.163, subd. 11
and 260C.007, subd. 6
), and the child is in need of protective services.
A parent who contributes to a child’s unexcused absence from school may be charged with a gross misdemeanor under Minnesota Statute 260C.425
that is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, and/or a civil action under Minnesota Statute 260C.335
If a child is 12 years of age or older, their failure to attend school is presumed to be truancy. A child 17 years of age cannot drop out of school without the permission of their parents; written forms must be completed at a school meeting (Minnesota Statute 120A.22, subd. 8
). A child who misses seven days of school or seven class periods on seven different days without lawful excuse can be petitioned as a Habitual Truant under the CHIPS law (Children in Need of Protection or Services) (Minnesota Statute 260C.007, subd. 19
A child who is truant may be transported by police to home, school or a Truancy Center (Minnesota Statute 260C.143, subd. 4
- Court adjudication as a “child in need of protection or services”
- Probation or protective supervision Community Service or Sentence to Serve (including weekends)
- Fines up to $100
- Suspension or denial of driving privileges (to age 18)
- Counseling for child and parents
- Chemical or mental health evaluations / services / programs
- “Any other activities or . . . treatment programs deemed appropriate by the court”
- Out-of-Home Placement (including shelter, foster home, residential treatment center, etc.) child must be represented by counsel