The Hawaii State Compulsory Attendance Law
The Hawaii Revised Statutes, Sec. 298-9, states that "unless excluded from school or excepted from attendance, all children will have arrived at the age of at least six years, and who will not have arrived at the age of eighteen years, on or before December 31 of any school year, shall attend either a public or private school for and during such year, and any parent, guardian, and other person having the responsibility for or care of a child whose attendance at school is obligatory shall send the child to some such school."
Section 298-13, Enforcement, HRS, places the responsibility for enforcing compulsory attendance with the Department of Education (DOE). Toward this end, agreements have been developed with all police departments within the state regarding truant students. Students who are chronic absentees may be referred to Family Court.
Exemption from the compulsory attendance law is permitted only under specified conditions pursuant to Section 298-9, Attendance compulsory, Exceptions, HRS, and DOE regulations relating to compulsory attendance exceptions.
HRS 302A-1135 provides that a parent or guardian who does not enforce the child's regular school attendance may be guilty of a petty misdemeanor. The penalty for a petty misdemeanor is a fine of up to $1,000 (HRS 707-640) or jail time for up to thirty (30) days (HRS 706-663).
The Hawaii State Department of Education's Philosophical Base
In consonance with the statutory requirements relating to education, the DOE is committed to providing each individual with an educational program, which will help the student to develop to the fullest extent of the student's capabilities and become a useful and personally successful member of society. Teachers, administrators, and other staff shall make every effort to work with the students and their parent(s) and/or guardian(s) to optimize available learning activities as well as educational services and opportunities. According to the Board of Education's Student Code of Conduct, policy regarding attendance and punctuality, students are expected to attend school daily, attend all classes, and be on time every day.
Kapolei Complex Philosophy
We, the schools of the Kapolei Community, with the support of the parents and the community, believe that:
- School attendance is a primary indicator of academic success
- Optimum benefits of education can be achieved only when students attend school daily and are in class on time.
- Excessive absences, unexcused absences and/or tardies are barriers to learning and prevent maximum teaching and learning from taking place.
- To have effective policy, all stakeholders, collectively, must support all efforts toward the development of a school community that teaches and enforces a strong attendance policy with effective procedures and interventions.
- Attendance is a learned attitude and behavior that can be pro-actively taught. Schools will pro-actively teach appropriate behaviors and attitude through the Positive Behavior Support program in each school complex wide. Absenteeism is a behavior that can be corrected when all stakeholders work together. When needed, higher-level interventions such as monitoring, counseling and special programs, may be necessary to avert court involvement. Should court involvement be necessary, programs supporting a return to daily educational participation will be provided in the best interest of the student.
- We are all responsible to support the procedures and interventions that promote and guide all youth toward meeting the high standards of the Kapolei Graduate Profile in preparation of their personal goals and future pursuits.
- Students absent for fifteen or more consecutive days, excluding authorized school activities or medical absences, may be released from school.
- Students arriving after the official school start time or class time shall be marked tardy. Teachers are to note the reason for the tardy in the comment section.
- All students must have an admit slip or pass if entering school after the attendance count has been submitted. Students must be directed to report to the attendance office.
- Parents must call and/or send written documentation explaining the reason for absence whenever their child is absent. Keep in mind that this is a safety issue as well.
- Written documentation will be kept on file at each school.
- Phone calls will be documented to include both the reason for the absence and who provided it.
Daily Monitoring: The teacher and/or attendance monitor will review the attendance records daily to ensure that excessive or recurring absences are followed up upon for ALL students.
- School -Parent Communication: After absences, the teacher will attempt to contact the parent to ascertain whether a concern should be noted and/or to provide support.
- Mid-quarter letters will be sent to parents/guardians for students who have accumulated 5 absences or 5 tardies within that quarter up to that point in time.
- End-of-quarter letters will be sent to parents/guardians for students who have accumulated 5 absences or 5 tardies during that quarter.
- If, after communication with the parent, the teacher feels there is a concern, the teacher will send a letter home. A teacher may choose to initiate an RFA (Request For Assistance).
Depending on the nature and pattern of the absences the school will want to exercise sound judgment in early intervention.
- Letter 1 will be sent after 5 absences or tardies.
- Letter 2 will be sent after 10 absences or tardies.
- Letter 3 will be sent after 15 absences or tardies. An attendance referral is submitted by the teacher. A school conference should be held to determine the barrier to school attendance. An agreement should be met which maps improvement. If the student's academic or behavioral performance is in question the Counselor and /or School Social Worker may be consulted to develop a plan.
- Letter 4 will be sent if unexplained absences continue to accumulate after Letter 3. A Family Court Petition for may be filed.