be@school

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office manages the be@school program, an important initiative to support our children's education and their future. Hear more from Mike Freeman.

It is estimated that thousands of children in Hennepin County have excessive unexcused absences from school. This is a major societal problem. School absence is a risk factor for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior, and chronic unemployment later in life. Concern for the devastating effects of truancy led to the development of the be@school program.

The be@school program serves Hennepin County, with all educational neglect and truancy efforts consolidated under the leadership of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. I am passionate about getting kids to school so they all have the opportunity to be educated. I believe if our children succeed, we all succeed.

Mike Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney

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Program overview

When a student has a number of unexcused absences, the school begins the process of addressing the issue.

School intervention

To engage the family and offer available services, schools will contact parents by telephone. After a student has three unexcused absences, the school will send the parents a letter from the principal.

Parent Group Meeting (PGM) and School Team Attendance Review (STAR) meetings

be@school meetings, the Parent Group Meeting (PGM) and School Team Attendance Review (STAR), are interventions offered to eliminate the need for court involvement. Families are strongly encouraged to attend these meetings. Failure to take advantage of these voluntary interventions will more likely result in court involvement if school attendance does not improve. Family attendance at meetings is recorded.

Who can/should attend meetings

Students 12 years of age or older should attend meetings with their parent(s)/guardian(s). Parents are welcome to bring anyone supportive of the family to the meeting. This may include other service providers.

An interpreter can be requested to assist at either the PGM or STAR meeting. Call the be@school line to request an interpreter at least two days before the meeting: 612-348-6041.

Parent Group Meeting (PGM)

When the student has six unexcused absences, the school will make a referral to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. A representative will send a letter to the parents, directing them to attend a Parent Group Meeting (PGM).

At the PGM, a be@school representative will explain compulsory school attendance laws, consequences for unexcused absences, the benefits of education, and the services available to assist families. More detailed information about the PGM, how to schedule an in-person meeting or attend the online PGM is available below.

Educational neglect and truancy report: the STAR meeting

If the student has three additional unexcused absences after the PGM referral, the school will make an educational neglect or truancy report. Families will be directed by mail to contact their assigned community agency and begin case management services.

The next step in the process after the PGM is the STAR meeting (School Team Attendance Review). The goal of the STAR meeting is a specific plan to resolves barriers that are negatively impacting the student’s attendance. Additional information about STAR meetings is explained in the section below.

All educational neglect reports (for students under 12 years old) are sent to Child Protection in the Human Services and Public Health Department.

Court intervention

Students under 12

If the student accrues additional unexcused absences following the STAR meeting, the school will submit another report to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, who will review the report and send it to Child Protection. This will result in a child protection investigation. If additional unexcused absences occur, Child Protection may consult for court involvement.

Students 12 and over

If the student accrues additional unexcused absences following the STAR meeting, the school will submit another report to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, who will decide whether to attempt additional preventive services or file a truancy petition in Juvenile Court. In court, the focus will be upon services and sanctions that promote attendance and educational success for the student (e.g. tutoring, credit recovery, mentoring, be@school @your library, etc.). Parent involvement will be actively pursued. If multiple interventions have been attempted and the child becomes an older truant, services may no longer be offered.

Parent Group Meeting (PGM)

When the student has six unexcused absences, the school will make a referral to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. A representative will send a letter to the parents, directing them to attend a Parent Group Meeting (PGM).

At the PGM, a be@school representative will explain compulsory school attendance laws, consequences for unexcused absences, the benefits of education, and the services available to assist families.

In some cases, families will be assigned to a community agency at this time. These agencies can offer services to help get the student to school and can refer the family to other services.

Length of the PGM

PGMs are approximately 30 minutes. Parents are encouraged to allow at least one hour in case additional conversation is needed after the meeting.

Scheduling the meeting

Additional meeting dates and times are available if the scheduled time does not work.

Call the be@school line for more information (612-348-6041) or refer to the weekly calendar, enclosed with the letter, for other meeting times.

Requesting an interpreter

An interpreter can be requested to assist at either the PGM or STAR meeting. Call the be@school line to request an interpreter at least two days before the meeting: 612-348-6041.

Completing the PGM online

The PGM is also available online.

In the Parent Group Meeting letter, there is a unique family code. Parents can use this access code to view the online PGM and receive credit for attending this meeting instead of attending in person. The online PGM is available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali languages.

Proceed to the online PGM.

School Team Attendance Review (STAR) meetings

If the student has three additional unexcused absences after the PGM referral, the school will make an educational neglect or truancy report. Families will be directed by mail to contact their assigned community agency and begin case management services.

About the STAR meeting

The next step in the process after the PGM is the STAR meeting (School Team Attendance Review). This meeting will be attended by the parent(s), the student (if over 12 years old), a program representative, the community agency, and a school representative, if available. The goal of the STAR meeting is a specific plan to resolves barriers that are negatively impacting the student’s attendance. Throughout this process, the assigned community agency will monitor the student’s attendance weekly and continue to provide assistance.

Who can/should attend meetings

Students 12 years of age or older should attend meetings with their parent(s)/guardian(s). Parents are welcome to bring anyone supportive of the family to the meeting. This may include other service providers.

Requesting an interpreter

Call the be@school line to request an interpreter at least two days before the meeting: 612-348-6041.

Educational neglect reports

All educational neglect reports (for students under 12 years old) are sent to Child Protection in the Human Services and Public Health Department.

Attendance record questions

Attendance information is provided to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office by the school. Parents should call or visit the school contact person listed in their letter to discuss attendance information.

BASIL and other school resources

BASIL

All educational neglect and truancy reports are submitted online, through the Be At School Information Link (BASIL). Schools log in to BASIL and can submit information for a Parent Group Meeting or an Ed Neglect/Truancy Report, and get updates on the case online.

Sample documents and training materials

Related links

Attendance laws

Mandatory attendance for minors

Minnesota Statute 120A.22, subd. 5(a) and 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 between seven and 17 must attend school every day and be on time unless they have a lawful reason for being absent. Lawful reasons include:
    • Religious holidays
    • Illness: A parent or guardian must verify the student’s illness. School personnel may 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.
    • Funeral of a family member

Educational neglect

Minnesota Statutes 260C.163, subd. 11 and 260C.007, subd. 6:

  • A child is "educationally neglected" if absent from school due to failure of the parent to comply with compulsory education laws and the child is in need of protective services.

Minnesota Statutes 260C.425 and 260C.335:

  • A parent who contributes to a child's unexcused absence from school may be charged with a gross misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine, and/or a civil action.

Truancy

Minnesota Statute 120A.22, subd. 8:

  • A child of 17 cannot drop out of school without the permission of their parents; written forms must be completed at a school meeting.

Minnesota Statute 260.C.007, subd. 19, also known as the CHIPS (Children in Need of Protection of Services) law:

  • If a child is 12 or older, failure to attend school is presumed to be truancy. 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.

Minnesota Statute 260C.143, subd. 4:

  • A child who is truant may be transported by police to home, school or a truancy center. 

Minnesota Statutes 260C.193 and 260C.201:

  • Truancy consequences for juveniles:
    • Court adjudication (decision) of the truant 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 of 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.). In this case, the child must be represented by counsel.

Communications

be@school video

Radio

Brochures and reports

Online PGM

The PGM is also available online.

In the Parent Group Meeting letter, there is a unique family code. Parents can use this access code to view the online PGM and receive credit for attending this meeting instead of attending in person. The online PGM is available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali languages.

Proceed to the online PGM.

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