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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: April 21, 2015 12:45 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Charter and Cyber Charter Student Attendance Accountability
I plan to introduce legislation that will amend the Public School Code of 1949 to require charter and cyber charter schools to enforce the existing truancy laws applicable to all students and to notify the school district in which the student is a resident when truancy is at issue.

My legislation doesn’t stop any parent from choosing where the child is to receive an education. Parents will just be required to inform the school district of any change in their choice. The bill is designed to assure that every child is being educated and that no child is truant.

Currently, the code includes compulsory education laws that require action by school districts when its students accrue too many unexcused absences. Charter and cyber schools however are not currently subject to the enforcement requirements and reporting as the school districts. As such, an injustice occurs that allows a loop-hole for students to bounce to or from a charter or cyber charter school when truant to avoid penalty or to address the reasons for the excessive absences.

This problem was brought to my attention by Dr. Linda S. Lane, Superintendent of the School District of Pittsburgh, who is concerned for the students who reside in the school district but who are not regularly attending any school and the School District can’t take action because the charter and cyber charter schools don’t report when a student is truant or assist in the prosecution of a truancy case. This is because under the School Code there is no obligation for the charter or cyber charter school to act against the truant student. Instead, the School Code makes truancy enforcement the responsibility of the resident school district. This is the loop-hole.

You cannot educate a student who is not attending any form of schooling. This loop-hole must be closed in the interest of all children. While some may not agree with the actions the School Code requires in relation to truancy, it is essential that all entities, including charter and cyber charter schools (not just the home district) assume responsibility for excessive student absences.

In any discussion of developing a basic education funding formula, it is vital to know where students are attending school and the dates of that attendance. This bill assists in answering these attendance questions, as well as assuring that students are actually attending school.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB831