Basic Education Circular - Compulsory Attendance

Basic Education Circular (BEC)
24 P.S. 13-1327 Compulsory Attendance and Truancy Elimination Plan

DATE OF ISSUE: August 8, 2006

(NOTE: This is an overview of the BEC - 24 P.S. 13-1327 Compulsory Attendance and Truancy Elimination Plan. Click here to access the entire document as a PDF file.)

I. Introduction
Educational success promotes workforce opportunity and development and builds a strong economic future for our state. The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) goals are for every child to be known by name, be proficient or advanced in the core subjects, be graduates from high school, and achieve equitable outcomes regardless of background or ‘condition.’ The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is committed to improving school attendance rates. In order for students to realize the opportunities and benefits from school, students have to not only be in attendance, but they must also be meaningfully connected to the school and experiencing success. To achieve this, there must be a collaborative effort across agencies, both at the state level and locally, to work with students and families to address the source issues that result in truant behavior.

This BEC is the result of the work of the Statewide Task Force on School Attendance and Truancy Reduction, so magisterial district judges, parents, and schools will receive guidance on what they can do to help Pennsylvania’s children. The Department of Education and the schools of the Commonwealth are obligated to comply with state and federal requirements for student attendance and truancy. As “No Child Left Behind” and the Pennsylvania Accountability System place increased emphasis on student achievement and attendance, it has become even more important to improve Pennsylvania’s efforts to reduce truancy.

Development of this BEC has been driven by recommendations made by the Task Force to facilitate a consistent statewide response to truancy and absenteeism and for the development of a continuum of prevention and intervention strategies that involve collaboration among schools, law enforcement agencies, social services providers, as well as faith-based and youth-serving agencies. This BEC describes Pennsylvania law pertaining to pupil attendance and truancy and offers recommendations made by the PDE to encourage the adoption of proven truancy reduction efforts. This document also provides recommendations using national experience and best practices that have proven successful in reducing truancy.

There should be a common understanding among school personnel that the initial responsibility to address truancy rests with teachers, principals and guidance counselors. School districts are advised to develop creative and innovative approaches to ensure that children are active participants in their education. Every effort should be made to keep youth in school and reduce the school district’s referrals to the courts, child welfare or juvenile justice systems in order to effectively intervene and eliminate truant behavior. Children are truant for many reasons and schools should seek to understand and address those issues. In Section IV (A)(3) of this BEC, the Department recommends that schools develop a Truancy Elimination Plan (TEP) as a means to address truancy.

Section II of the BEC describes Pennsylvania’s law on attendance; Section III provides guidance for schools to use in working with partners to prevent truancy; Section IV outlines the recommended policy on truancy for districts to adopt; Section V addresses proceedings and penalties for violation of compulsory attendance requirements; and Section VI addresses charter schools.

This BEC does not apply to first class school districts. The truancy procedures and programs of the School District of Philadelphia are developed and implemented by the district’s Office of Transition and Alternative Education and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Truancy Prevention in the Department of Human Services.