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Juvenile  Court  -  Civil  Programs

 

Truancy

 

court image  Purpose:

The 1995 Washington Legislature enacted a bill governing At-Risk Youth, runaway,  truancy, and other issues affecting non-offender youth and their families.

Effective September 1, 1995, and revised in July 1997, 1998, and 1999, this bill amends current truancy laws.  Upon a child's seventh unexcused absence in a month, or not later than the tenth unexcused absence in a year, the public school district shall file a truancy petition in Juvenile Court.  The petition can allege violations to truancy laws by the parent, child, or both.

Superior Court Judges and Commissioners have jurisdiction to hear these truancy petitions.  In addition to assessing fines, placing children in detention, and other current options, the act authorizes Courts to also order the parent to provide community service instead of imposing a fine.

court image  School District Requirements:

Public school districts are required to document their actions to comply with the truancy laws (regarding excused and unexcused absences).  Steps taken by the public school district, the number of truancy petitions filed, and court dispositions shall be reported to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).  OSPI shall report the information to the Legislature.

Public school district officials, in addition to sheriffs, marshals, police, and other officials, are authorized to make arrests and take into custody those juveniles who are absent from school without an approved excuse.  These persons are to deliver the child to the parent, school, or program designated by the school.

court image  Court Legal Process:

Any student or parent who has a Truancy petition filed in Thurston County will be summoned to appear for court.  Failure to appear for court may result in a court order to pick up the student or the parent. 

On the day scheduled for court, the student and parent are required to attend a truancy information class.   A Judicial Officer will begin the class with an overview of court procedures.  Probation staff will conduct the remainder of the truancy class.  Information about community resources will be available.  The class will last approximately one hour. 

Following the class, the student and parent will determine whether the statements in the Truancy Petition are true.

  1. If the student and parent agree that the statements are true, they will complete an Agreed Truancy Order with the School District Representative who is present.

  2. If the student or parent does not agree that the statements are true, either may request a hearing before a Judicial Officer.  This hearing will be held immediately following the truancy class.  The Judicial Officer will make a decision based on the evidence presented by the student, parent and School District Representative.

  3. The student is expected to return to school following the conclusion of the judicial process.

The Court may order the minor to submit to testing for the use of controlled substances or alcohol based on a determination that such testing is appropriate.

Both the petitioner and the respondent must comply with the requirements of the Court as set forth in the order.  It is the public school district's responsibility to report any further unexcused absences of that student.  The Court may, in it's discretion, schedule review hearings to examine the progress of the student's attendance.

court image  Contempt of Court:

In the event of non-compliance, either party of the Court may schedule a contempt hearing on the order to determine the reasons, if any, for the alleged non-compliance.  If a party is found in contempt of court, sanctions may be imposed; including, but not limited to:

  1. Assessing fines.

  2. Requiring community service for the child.

  3. Requiring participation in drop-out prevention programs.

  4. Placing a child in detention.

  5. Requiring child to attend Day Detention and OPTIONS classes.

  6. Requiring the parent to provide community service.

  7. Submitting to Electronic Home Monitoring.

  8. Requiring participation in a Drug and Alcohol evaluation.  Submit to urinalysis testing.

  9. Requiring participation in Mental health and/or Physical health examinations.

  10. Participation with counseling as recommended by professionals working with the family

For further information, Call Thurston County Juvenile Court at (360) 709-3131, TDD (360) 754-2933.

 

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Page Revised on March 04, 2009 Thurston County