Pennsylvania attendance laws set to change next school year

Evalyne Simpson, Reporter

The compulsory school age for students in Pennsylvania has recently changed. According to the Education Law Center of PA, the new changes require all students to attend school no later than age 6 and until age 18 or graduation, whichever occurs sooner. These requirements will go into effect in the 2020-2021 school year and will apply to schools across Pennsylvania. 

Currently, Pennsylvania’s compulsory school attendance laws require that students enter school no later than age 8, with the exception of Philadelphia, which requires children enter school at age 6. Students also are required to stay in school until age 17 or until they graduate, whichever comes first.  As previously mentioned, the new changes to attendance laws will go into effect next school year. 

If a student doesn’t follow attendance laws, truancy can occur. Truancy occurs when a student of compulsory school age acquires a certain number of unexcused absences, regardless of whether they occur separately or happen all at once. To be considered “truant”, a child must have three or more school days of unexcused absences. A student is “habitually truant” when he or she has been absent for six or more unexcused days.

Since these changes will apply to MASH, it is important for students to be aware. It is also just good to brush up on attendance laws so you can avoid truancy. Being absent is okay, if you have an acceptable reason. For an absence to be excused you must give an excuse to the attendance office within 3 days of the absence. If you don’t turn in an excuse or have an acceptable reason for being absent, you will be considered illegally absent. If you are illegally absent for three or more school days,you will be considered truant. A notice will be sent out to your parents and a Student Attendance Improvement Plan (SAIP) will be initiated. The purpose of the SAIP is to identify reasons for truancy and develop a plan of action to prevent future unlawful absences. This involves meeting with staff in the building and conferencing with parents.

Be sure to spread the word about the new attendance policy changes!