Schools should make every effort to engage and involve the parents/families or guardians of their students in all aspects of their education. This begins with informing parents of school policies, student code of conduct and consequences for infractions so that they are aware of the school’s expectations for their child. Participation, support and encouragement from family members can make the difference in assuring that a student experiences success in his/her educational pursuits. If absenteeism, tardiness or truancy is a problem, a referral to the student assistance program and contact with the student’s parents/family becomes imperative. The needs of the student and appropriate intervention strategies will differ, depending on the age of the student and the problem presented. There are many reasons why parents may not be aware that a child is missing school, being late to school or skipping certain classes, as might be the case with an older student. In some situations, the parent(s) may be working and not even in the home at the time the student leaves for school. Parents may not be aware of the attendance laws, or know that they have responsibility for assuring the child’s regular attendance at school. Parents may be unable to guarantee that their child actually arrives at school after the student leaves the home. Therefore schools should keep parents/guardians informed of any absences.

When absenteeism interferes with the student’s participation and performance in the classroom, a school-family conference is convened (see Section II.A.). Through the student assistance program and the use of the school-family conference, the potential exists to accurately identify the underlying cause(s) of the student’s truancy and the intervention that is needed to address the issue(s). The Truancy Elimination Plan that is developed by the student, the family, the school and all other agencies or services involved with the student and family during the conference demonstrates the interest in ensuring the youth’s success in school. In addition, if there are parent/family issues which must be identified and a solution found, the school-family conference offers the opportunity to provide those services as well.

Use of the student assistance team, and early and consistent contact with parents when problems arise or when they remain unresolved, will assist the school in identifying and addressing any underlying issues. If the parents have been informed throughout the process and the school has exhausted all avenues, it is easier for school personnel to take the matter to a higher level, such as involvement in the courts.