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

School Interventions

Schools will contact parents of students who have unexcused absences. These efforts may include telephone calls to parents, a letter from the principal after 3 unexcused absences, and other attempts to engage the family or offer available services.

Report #1 – Parent Group Meeting (PGM)

When the student has 6 unexcused absences, the school send a report to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office be@school program. The be@school team will send a letter to the parent(s) directing them to attend a Parent Group Meeting (PGM). At the PGM, a be@school representative will explain compulsory school attendance laws and consequences of continued unexcused absences, the benefits of education, and the services available to assist families. Some families will be assigned to a Contracted Community Agency (CCA) at this time. The CCA will provide direct services to assist the family in getting the child to school and refer the family to other services needed to remove attendance barriers.

Report #2 – Educational Neglect and Truancy Report (STAR Referral): The STAR Meeting

If the child has 3 additional unexcused absences after Report #1 (PGM), totaling at least 9 unexcused absences, the school will submit Report #2 (STAR). All families will be directed by mail to contact their assigned CCA worker and begin case management services. Some families will be directed to attend a School Team Attendance Review (STAR) meeting. The STAR meeting will be attended by the parent(s), the student (12 – 17 years), a be@school representative, the CCA worker, and if available, a school representative. The goal of the STAR meeting is to create a detailed plan to resolve barriers which negatively impact the student’s attendance. After the STAR meeting is held, the CCA worker will monitor the child’s attendance weekly and provide assistance.

Child Protection Services

Children under 12: If the child accrues 6 additional unexcused absences following Report #2 (STAR), totaling at least 15 unexcused absences, the school will submit Report #3 to be@school. The be@school team will review the report and send it to Child Protection Services.

Children 12 and over: If the child accrues 6 additional unexcused absences following Report #2 (STAR), totaling at least 15 unexcused absences, the school will submit Report #3 to be@school. If the student continues to miss school after the third report, the County Attorney's Office will consult for possible petition filer in juvenile court. The court hearing will focus on services and sanctions that promote attendance and educational success for the student (e.g., tutoring, credit recovery, mentoring, 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

Click here to view a schedule of meeting times. Additional meeting dates and times are available if necessary.

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.


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

Minnesota statutes relating to school attendance

The statutes listed below are the ones, which are most applicable to child protection case related to truancy.

Compulsory instruction

Parental Responsibility: Minnesota Statute 120A.22 subdivision 1
•    The parent of a child is primarily responsible for assuring that the child acquires knowledge and skills that are essential for effective citizenship.

Ages and terms: Minnesota Statute 120A.22 subdivision. 5(a)
•    Every child between seven and seventeen years of age must receive instruction unless the child has graduated. Every child under the age of seven who is enrolled in a half-day kindergarten, or a full-day kindergarten program on alternate days, or other kindergarten programs shall receive instruction. Except as provided under subdivision 6, a parent may withdraw a child under the age of enrollment at any time.

Withdrawal from school: Minnesota Statute 120A.22 subdivision 8(1) and (2)
•    Any student who is 17 years old who seeks to withdraw from school, and the student’s parent or guardian must attend a meeting with school personnel to discuss educational opportunities available to the student, including alternative educational opportunities and sign a written election to withdraw from school.

Legitimate exemptions: Minnesota Statute 120A.22 subdivision 12
•    Child illness, medical, dental, orthodontic, or counseling appointments;
•    Family emergencies;
•    The death or serious illness or funeral of an immediate family member;
•    Active duty in any military branch of the United States;
•    The child has a condition that requires ongoing treatment for a mental health diagnosis; and
•    Other exemptions included in the district’s school attendance policy.

Violations; penalties: Minnesota Statute 120A.34
•    Any person who fails or refuses to provide for instruction of a child of whom the person has legal custody, and who is required by section 120A.22 subdivision 5, to receive instruction, when notified so to do by a truant officer or other official, or any person who induces or attempts to induce any child unlawfully to be absent from school, or who knowingly harbors or employs, while school is in session, any child unlawfully absent from school, shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

Educational neglect and habitual truant

Minnesota Statute 260C.007 subdivision 6(3) and subdivision 6(14)

•    “Child in need of protection services means:

-A child who is in need of protection or services because the child is without necessary education because the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian is unable or unwilling to provide that care.

-A child who is in need of protection or services because the child is a habitual truant.

 Potential court-ordered dispositions in truancy cases include:

•    Lawful school attendance,
•    Cooperate with assigned Community Contracted Agency,
•    Submit to mental health, chemical dependency,  or other therapeutic evaluations and follow recommendations from said evaluations, and
•    Individual and family counseling.

Criminal and civil jurisdiction for contribution to need for protection or services

Minnesota Statute 260C.425 subdivision 1(a)
•    Any person who by act, word, or omission encourages, causes, or contributes to the need for protection or services is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Minnesota Statute 260C.335 subdivision 1
•    The juvenile court has civil jurisdiction over persons contributing to the need for protection or services of a child under the provision of this section.

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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