Chapter 376

2011 -- H 5061

Enacted 07/13/11

 

A N A C T

RELATING TO EDUCATION -- COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE

 

     Introduced By: Representatives McNamara, Diaz, and Savage

     Date Introduced: January 19, 2011

  

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

 

     SECTION 1. Section 16-19-1 of the General Laws in Chapter 16-19 entitled

"Compulsory Attendance" is hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     16-19-1. Attendance required. -- (a) Every child who has completed or will have

completed six (6) years of life on or before September 1 of any school year and has not completed

sixteen (16) eighteen (18) years of life shall regularly attend some public day school during all the

days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child resides.

Every person having under his or her control a child as described in this section shall cause the

child to attend school as required by this section, and for every neglect of this duty the person

having control of the child shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars ($50.00) for each day or part

of a day that the child fails to attend school, and if the total of these days is more than thirty (30)

school days during any school year, then the person shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned not

exceeding six (6) months or shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or both;

provided, that if the person so charged shall prove that the child has attended for the required

period of time a private day school approved by the commissioner of elementary and secondary

education pursuant to section 16-60-6(10), or a course of at-home instruction approved by the

school committee of the town where the child resides, or has been accepted into an accredited

postsecondary education program, or has obtained a waiver under subsection (b) of this section,

or that the physical or mental condition of the child was such as to render his or her attendance at

school inexpedient or impracticable, or that the child was excluded from school by virtue of some

other general law or regulation, then attendance shall not be obligatory nor shall the penalty be

incurred.

      (b) Every child enrolled in school who completes or has completed sixteen (16) years of

life and who has not yet attained eighteen (18) years of age shall regularly attend school during

all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child

resides unless the person having control of the child withdraws the child from enrollment in

accordance with section 16-67.1-3. Provided, however, that nothing in this subsection or in

subsection (a) of this section shall prohibit or limit cities or towns from enacting programs of

early intervention and/or mediation in an effort to address the problems of students who are

habitually late or absent from school A waiver to the compulsory attendance requirement may be

granted by the superintendent only upon proof that the pupil is sixteen (16) years of age or older

and has an alternative learning plan for obtaining either a high school diploma or its equivalent.

     (1) Alternative learning plans shall include age-appropriate academic rigor and the

flexibility to incorporate the pupilís interests and manner of learning. These plans may include,

but are not limited to, such components or combination of components of extended learning

opportunities as independent study, private instruction, performing groups, internships,

community service, apprenticeships, and online courses that are currently funded and available to

the school department and/or the community.

     (2) Alternative learning plans shall be developed, and amended if necessary, in

consultation with the pupil, a school guidance counselor, the school principal and at least one

parent or guardian of the pupil, and submitted to the superintendent for approval.

     (3) If the superintendent does not approve the alternative learning plan, the parent or

guardian of the pupil may appeal such decision to the school committee. A parent or guardian

may appeal the decision of the school committee to the commissioner of education pursuant to

chapter 39 of title 16.

      (c) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to limit or otherwise interfere with the rights

of teachers and other school employees to collectively bargain pursuant to chapters 9.3 and 9.4 of

title 28 or to allow any school committee to abrogate any agreement reached by collective

bargaining.

 

     SECTION 2. Section 16-67.1-3 of the General Laws in Chapter 16-67.1 entitled "Rhode

Island High School Dropout Prevention Act of 2007" is hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     16-67.1-3. Defining the age and protocol for a student to leave school. -- (a) Children

who have completed sixteen (16) years of life and who have not yet attained eighteen (18) years

of age may not withdraw from school before graduation unless they have previously developed an

alternative learning plan in accordance with subsection 16-19-1 (b) and, after implementation of

the plan:

      (1) The student, the student's parent(s)/guardian and an administrator agree to the

withdrawal;

     (2) At the exit interview, the student and the student's parent(s)/guardian provide written

acknowledgement of the withdrawal that meets the requirements of paragraph (4)(D) of this

subsection;

     (3) The school principal provides written consent for the student to withdraw from

school; and/or

     (4) The withdrawal is:

     (i)(A) Due to documented financial hardship and the need of the individual to be

employed to support the individual's family or a dependent;

     (ii)(B) Due to documented illness;

     (iii)(C) By order of a court that has jurisdiction over the student; and or

     (iv)(D) Accompanied by a written acknowledgement of a withdrawal under subdivision

(2) of this subsection which must include a statement that the student and the student's

parent(s)/guardian understand that withdrawal from school is likely to reduce the student's future

earnings and increase the student's likelihood of being unemployed in the future;

      (b) If a child of the age described in subsection (a) is habitually absent from school and

the school is unable to contact the parent(s)/guardian. the school may withdraw the child from

enrollment provided that its attempts to contact the parent(s)/guardian by telephone, regular and

registered mail, and home visit are documented. If a child who has been withdrawn from

enrollment under this subsection returns to school, or if the school mistakenly withdraws the child

from enrollment, the child shall promptly immediately be re-enrolled.

 

     SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.

     

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LC00141

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