H. B. 3193

(By Delegates Perry, Swartzmiller, Wakim,

Crosier, Tabb, Hartman and SumnerSPONSOR)

(Originating in the Committee on Education)

[February 25, 2003]

A BILL to Bill Titleamend and reenact section four, article eight, chapter eighteen of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to reports on school attendance for purposes of accountability; and excluding certain absences. Title Language

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section four, article eight, chapter eighteen Enacting Sectionof the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:

§18-8-4. Duties of attendance director and assistant directors; complaints, warrants and hearings.
The county attendance director and the assistants shall diligently promote regular school attendance. They shall ascertain reasons for inexcusable absences from school of pupils of compulsory school age and students who remain enrolled beyond the sixteenth birthday as defined under this article and shall take such steps as are, in their discretion, best calculated to correct attitudes of parents and pupils which results in absences from school even though not clearly in violation of law.
In the case of five consecutive or ten total unexcused absences of a child during a school year, the attendance director or assistant shall serve written notice to the parent, guardian or custodian of such child that the attendance of such child at school is required and that within ten days of receipt of the notice the parent, guardian or custodian, accompanied by the child, shall report in person to the school the child attends for a conference with the principal or other designated representative of the school in order to discuss and correct the circumstances causing the inexcusable absences of the child; and if the parent, guardian or custodian does not comply with the provisions of this article, then the attendance director or assistant shall make complaint against the parent, guardian or custodian before a magistrate of the county. If it appears from the complaint that there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the accused has committed it, a summons or a warrant for the arrest of the accused shall issue to any officer authorized by law to serve the summons or to arrest persons charged with offenses against the state. More than one summons or warrant may be issued on the same complaint. The summons or warrant shall be executed within ten days of its issuance.
The magistrate court clerk, or the clerk of the circuit court performing the duties of the magistrate court as authorized in section eight, article one, chapter fifty of this code, shall assign the case to a magistrate within ten days of execution of the summons or warrant. The hearing shall be held within twenty days of the assignment to the magistrate, subject to lawful continuance. The magistrate shall provide to the accused at least ten days' advance notice of the date, time and place of the hearing.
When any doubt exists as to the age of a child absent from school, the attendance director shall have authority to require a properly attested birth certificate or an affidavit from the parent, guardian or custodian of such child, stating age of the child. The county attendance director or assistant shall, in the performance of his or her duties, have authority to take without warrant any child absent from school in violation of the provisions of this article and to place such child in the school in which such child is or should be enrolled.
The county attendance director shall devote such time as is required by section three of this article to the duties of attendance director in accordance with this section during the instructional term and at such other times as the duties of an attendance director are required. All attendance directors hired for more than two hundred days may be assigned other duties determined by the superintendent during the period in excess of two hundred days. The county attendance director shall be responsible under direction of the county superintendent for the efficient administration of school attendance in the county.
In addition to those duties directly relating to the administration of attendance, the county attendance director and assistant directors shall also perform the following duties:
(a) Assist in directing the taking of the school census to see that it is taken at the time and in the manner provided by law;
(b) Confer with principals and teachers on the comparison of school census and enrollment for the detection of possible nonenrollees;
(c) Cooperate with existing state and federal agencies charged with enforcement of child labor laws;
(d) Prepare a report for submission by the county superintendent to the state superintendent of schools on school attendance, at such times and in such detail as may be required. The report on school attendance required for measuring the annual performance of schools and school systems for accountability purposes shall
exclude excused student absences, students not in attendance due to disciplinary measures and absent students for whom the attendance director has pursued judicial remedies to compel attendance to the extent of his or her authority. The attendance director shall also, file with the county superintendent and county board of education at the close of each month a report showing activities of the school attendance office and the status of attendance in the county at the time;
(e) Promote attendance in the county by the compilation of data for schools and by furnishing suggestions and recommendations for publication through school bulletins and the press, or in such manner as the county superintendent may direct;
(f) Participate in school teachers' conferences with parents and students;
(g) Assist in such other ways as the county superintendent may direct for improving school attendance;
(h) Make home visits of students who have excessive unexcused absences, as provided above, or if requested by the chief administrator, principal or assistant principal; and
(i) The attendance director shall Serve as the liaison for homeless children and youth.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.