A Focus on Truancy
Caring about Truancy...because we care about kids.
Taking Truancy Seriously...
The Kankakee County State's Attorneys' Office has a renewed focus on addressing truancy. We know that 95% of juvenile offenders and 80% of adults in the prison system have a history of truancy; based on those numbers, it isn’t difficult to see the importance of ensuring that youth regularly attend school, or the connection between crime and truancy. Even more concerning, we know that a juvenile who is truant is eight times more likely to become a victim of crime.
While the solution to reducing truancy is not a simple fix and the problem encompasses a number of social ills and familial challenges, we have made great strides in starting to enforce truancy laws in Kankakee County. For starters, we now regularly file charges against the parents of truant minors – those charges are held in abeyance and ultimately dismissed if the parent can correct the behavior and ensure that their child attends school as required. During that process, they have access to social services, assistance provided by truancy officers and school officials, and referrals to other support networks to address the root causes of truancy. However, those parents who fail to take advantage of these resources and allow their child to remain truant are held accountable under the law.
What Are The Laws on Truancy?
As a parent or caregiver, the law obligates you to make sure that your child attends school. A parent or caregiver who fails to meet this obligation may be guilty of an infraction and subject to criminal prosecution pursuant to the Illinois Education Code Compulsory Attendance (105 ILCS 5/26-2a).
(105 ILCS 5/26-10) Fine for Noncompliance.
Any person having custody or control of a child subject to the provisions of this Article to whom notice has been given of the child's truancy and who knowingly and willfully permits such a child to persist in his truancy within that school year, upon conviction thereof shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and shall be subject to not more than 30 days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $500. An arrest warrant may be issued for the parent/guardian.
What is a valid cause for a school absence?
Observance of a religious holiday
Death in immediate family
Other situations beyond the control of the student as determined by the district’s board of education
Who is a “Truant?”
(105 ILCS 5/26-2a)
A "truant" is defined as a child subject to compulsory school attendance and who is absent without valid cause for a school day or portion thereof.
What is a “Chronic truant?”
A child at compulsory attendance age who has accumulated 5% or more unexcused absences of the previous 180 regular attendance days.
(105 ILCS 5/26-1) Whoever has custody or control of any child between the ages of 7 and 17 years shall cause such child to attend some public school in the district wherein the child resides the entire time it is in session during the regular school term.
Our goal is to reach 0% truancy in Kankakee County. It is not our goal to prosecute parents or juveniles for not attending school, but we cannot sit idly by while a generation of young men and women fail to obtain a basic education while engaging in unhealthy lifestyle choices that often accompany truancy. I remain convinced that if we can reduce truancy, we can reduce crime and poverty while improving the quality of life for all residents and communities countywide.