A child is truant when he or she is at an age where he or she must, by law, go to school. Often times, a child may only have a limited number of unexcused absences, and exceeding this number may result in the child being declared truant. The exact number of unexcused absences a child must have to be considered truant varies state by state.

Until What Age Must a Child Attend School?

The minimum age at which a child can stop going to school varies from state to state. However, as a general rule, no state allows a child under 16 to drop out or otherwise permanently stop attending school. For example, in Iowa, children must attend school until they are 16 years old. In Pennsylvania, by contrast, children must attend until they are 17 years old.

What Happens If My Child’s School Believes My Child Is Truant?

The child’s school is required to keep records of attendance. If a child has enough unexcused absences to be considered truant, the school district will give the child’s parents notice, and then potentialy file a truancy petition with family court.

Can Parents Be Punished If a Court Finds the Child Truant?

Depending on where the parents live, there are several penalties they can face as a result of their child’s truancy. These consequences can include:

  • Fines
  • Mandatory community service
  • Mandatory parenting classes

Can Children Be Punished If a Court Finds the Child to Be Truant?

Depending on the state and how often the courts have found the child truant, a child may be:

  • Fined
  • Required to attend a special program (such as an alternative education program)
  • Required to surrender her driver’s license for up to six months

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Hiring a family lawyer can help make the court experience much easier. An experienced attorney will know the ins-and-outs of family courts, and can help you get the best results possible for you and your child.