Rhode Island Family Court
Truancy Court Within The Schools Program
Petitions filed against Student
- For students in Providence middle schools and high schools that have a Family Truancy Court assigned to their school.
- When students miss over 5 school days, guidance counselors notify parents/guardians through telephone calls, letters, and/or conduct school conferences to discuss student’s attendance. Schools should have in place Attendance team meetings to discuss student cases. Schools may assign a Human Relations Specialist or School Social Worker to conduct a home visit.
- All attendance information is documented on an A-8 form.
- These contacts with parents may indicate that they are unaware that their child is not attending, aware but do not care, or have no control over the child and cannot get the child to attend. Sometimes the child may be afraid to attend for many reasons, may just want to hang out with their friends, or may be having family issues.
- If student continues to be truant after it is brought to both the parent and child’s attention, and the school has tried various interventions, the case is referred to the SAO Truancy Officer to file a truancy petition.
- Rhode Island Family Court truancy petitions are required to have supporting documentation from the sending school department. This documentation outlines the efforts made by the school department prior to filing a truancy petition. This form is called: Rhode Island Family Court Prior Intervention Questionnaire Form. The School Counselor must complete this form- PART I.
- The petition will be assigned to the appropriate school location through Rhode Island Family Court.
- Rhode Island Family Court will prepare a written notice that will be sent to the parent/guardian explaining that the student has been referred to the Family Court on a wayward status offense of truancy; the parent/guardian will be informed that he/she has the opportunity to provide valid excuses, if any at the hearing. The notice will have the attached copy of the truancy petition listing the student’s absences; the notice will briefly explain the Truancy Diversion Calendar and set the location, time, and date of the hearing before the Magistrate.
- If a student and parent do not appear at the Truancy Calendar date, a summons may be issued for the child and guardian to appear. SAO will receive the summons from Rhode Island Family Court and have it delivered to the student’s home by a constable/sheriff.
- Court is held on a weekly basis at each school site.
- Rhode Island Family Court implements at each court proceeding a court of record with microphones & a computerized system to take verbal accounts of what is being reported. At any time parents/guardians or service providers can request a copy be made to order the transcript.
- A few days before the court date, the court calendar is FAXED to SAO listing students to be heard on the assigned date.
- The Court Calendar is also faxed to each school’s guidance department Head of Guidance to distribute to the guidance counselors so that they are able to prepare for their student cases and get progress reports from teachers. A computerized student attendance record from REG. is used for each student on the truancy calendar.
- On a weekly basis, guidance staff will notify & request that teachers complete a Weekly Progress Report for the Truancy Calendar.
- New students are accompanied by their parent(s)/guardian(s) at each initial hearing. The parent and student are read their rights and are given a choice by the Magistrate to have the case transferred to RI Family Court or remain at the school.
- If the parents/guardians opt to stay, students are monitored weekly; the student’s attendance and behavior is monitored; they are sometimes referred to DCYF or other services; they are referred to tutoring programs at the school; they may be given community service to makeup time missed in school.
- The SAO Truancy Officer files new petitions, keeps track of what happens in court, provides input, and conducts home visits to see why students are not present for court, makes referrals for services, and acts as a liaison between DCYF, community agencies, parent/student and school.
- Since petitions are filed against students, rather than parents at the middle & high school level, it is important for parents to develop good attendance habits while children are in elementary school: Listed below are some helpful hints:
- Children should only be kept at home when they are sick. Parents/guardians need to provide doctor’s notes when children miss school because of illness.
- Parents need to be able to set appropriate limits for children and there should be consequences for skipping school.
- Parents need to keep channels of communication open with their child’s school
- Parent should feel free to call the school to set up meetings with teachers
- Parents need to set aside time to check homework. If they cannot monitor to see if homework is done correctly, they should let the school know so that proper arrangements can be make for this.
- Parents need to ask for and monitor their child’s report cards.