TRUANCY

Under Arizona law, all children between six and sixteen years of age must be provided with instruction at minimum in the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, and science (A.R.S. § 15-802(A)). As a general rule, every child who is between six and sixteen years of age must attend and be physically present in school whenever school is in session (A.R.S. § 15-803(A)). However, several exceptions exist. This brief article provides an introduction to the statewide rules regarding school attendance.

 

When are children between 6 and 16 not required to attend school?

Under A.R.S. § 15-802(A)(1) and A.R.S. §15-802(D), if a child is excused for any of the following reasons, then attendance at school is not mandatory:

  1. the child is in such physical or mental condition that instruction is inexpedient or impracticable
  2. the child has completed the high school course of study necessary for completion of grade ten
  3. the child has presented reasons for nonattendance at a public school that are satisfactory to the school principal or the school principal’s designee
  4. the child is over fourteen years of age and is employed, with the consent of the person who has custody of the child, at some lawful wage-earning occupation
  5. the child is enrolled in a work training, career education, career and technical education, vocational education or manual training program that meets the educational standards established and approved by the department of education
  6. the child was either:

(a) suspended and not directed to participate in an alternative education program or

(b) expelled from a public school

  1. the child is enrolled in an education program provided by a state educational or other institution

Under A.R.S. § 15-803(A)(2), if a child is accompanied by a parent or a person authorized by a parent, then school attendance is not mandatory.

Under A.R.S. § 15-803(A)(3), if a child is provided with instruction in a homeschool, then school attendance (in the traditional sense) is not mandatory.

 

What makes a child “truant”?

Any child between six and sixteen years of age who is not in attendance at a public or private school during the hours that school is in session is considered to be a “truant child” under Arizona law unless one of the exceptions listed above applies (A.R.S. § 15-803(C)(3)).

Any unexcused absence for at least one class period during the school day makes a child “truant” (A.R.S. § 15-803(C)(2)). A child who is truant for at least five school days within a school year is considered to be “habitually truant” ((A.R.S. § 15-803(C)(1)) and a child who is habitually truant or who has excessive absences may be determined by the juvenile court to be an “incorrigible child” (A.R.S. § 15-803(B)). Absences may be considered excessive when a child attends less than 90% of all school days.

The juvenile court can order the parent of an incorrigible child to pay a fine and it can order the incorrigible child to attend an educational program or go to counseling. If necessary, the court can put the incorrigible child on probation or even place the incorrigible child in a juvenile detention facility (A.R.S. § 8-201 et seq.) 

 

What role do attendance officers play in combating truancy?

Under A.R.S. § 15-805(B), a school district-appointed “attendance officer” may do any of the following:

  1. issue a citation to any adult or child who is alleged to be in violation of the laws regarding school attendance, ordering that adult or child to appear in court at the time and place specified in the citation and advising that adult or child that a failure to appear may result in the issuance of a warrant for their arrest
  2. issue a citation on an Arizona traffic ticket and complaint form for any violation of the laws regarding school attendance
  3. report a violation of the laws regarding school attendance to the local law enforcement agency and request an investigation of the violation (which, if sufficient cause exists, must refer the matter for prosecution)
  4. enter all places where children may be employed to investigate and enforce the law

 

Further reading

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Title 15 Chapter 8 – “School Attendance”: https://www.azleg.gov/arsDetail/?title=15

 

 Laws may have changed since the last time this article was updated.  The current and most up-to-date laws can be accessed here. 

 

Laws Section

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