As the news school year begins for local schools the Mississippi Department of Education reminds parents there are laws governing school attendance and they can be enforced on the parents of children not enrolled in school.
Under the Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance Law, parents and guardians are required to enroll their children in public schools, a private school or home school them. This law applies to all children who have reached the age of six and have not exceeded the age of 17 by Sept. 1.
“We need to know why they are not in classes somewhere if they are not in school,” said Cynthia Belk, Chickasaw County Compulsory School Attendance Officer. “Parents are the ones held accountable.”
Belk said she urged neighbors and friends to contact her office at 456-9521 if they know of children not going to school.
Belk said parents who are found negligent are initially fined and can receive jail time if the violation is is reoccurring or severe.
“If a student moves here from another country, another state or another county, they are also required to go to school,” said Belk. “Again, parents or guardians will be held responsible if the child is not in school.”
Belk pointed out public schools receive state and federal dollars based on average daily attendance. She also pointed out truancy can be pursued through juvenile court.
Children who have enrolled in a full-day kindergarten are also bound by the compulsory attendance law.
Studies have repeatedly shown a direct link between grades or a student’s academic performance and student attendance of school.
Parents interested in teaching their children at home are required to complete a certificate of enrollment card each year.
Belk said parents or guardians wanting more information or details about school attendance regulations can call her office.