H. B. 2223
(By Delegates Gearheart, Ellington and Moore)
[Introduced February 13, 2013; referred to the
Committee on Education.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18-8-4 of the Code of West Virginia,
1931, as amended, relating to compulsory school attendance;
and providing that five unexcused occasions on which a student
is tardy for school may equal one unexcused absence.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18-8-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended,
be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 8. COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE.
§18-8-4. Duties of attendance director and assistant directors;
complaints, warrants and hearings.
(a) The county attendance director and the assistants shall
diligently promote regular school attendance. The director and
(1) Ascertain reasons for inexcusable absences from school of students of compulsory school age and students who remain enrolled
beyond the compulsory school age as defined under section one-a of
this article; and
(2) Take such steps as are, in their discretion, best
calculated to correct attitudes of parents and students which
result in absences from school even though not clearly in violation
(b) (1) In the case of five total unexcused absences of a
student during a school year, the attendance director or assistant
:(1) Serve serve written notice to the parent, guardian or
custodian of the student that the attendance of the student at
school is required and that within ten days of receipt of the
notice the parent, guardian or custodian, accompanied by the
student, shall report in person to the school the student 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 student; 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
parent, guardian or custodian may be charged in a complaint.
Initial service of a summons or warrant issued pursuant to the
provisions of this section shall be attempted within ten calendar
days of receipt of the summons or warrant and subsequent attempts
at service shall continue until the summons or warrant is executed
or until the end of the school term during which the complaint is
made, whichever is later.
(2) For purposes of this section five unexcused occasions on
which the student is tardy for school may equal one unexcused
(c) 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.
(d) When any doubt exists as to the age of a student absent
from school, the attendance director has authority to require a
properly attested birth certificate or an affidavit from the
parent, guardian or custodian of the student, stating age of the student. In the performance of his or her duties, the county
attendance director has authority to take without warrant any
student absent from school in violation of
the provisions of this
article and to place the student in the school in which he or she
is or should be enrolled.
(e) 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 is responsible under
direction of the county superintendent for efficiently
administering school attendance in the county.
(f) In addition to those duties directly relating to the
administration of attendance, the county attendance director and
assistant directors also shall perform the following duties:
(1) 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;
(2) Confer with principals and teachers on the comparison of
school census and enrollment for the detection of possible
(3) Cooperate with existing state and federal agencies charged with enforcing child labor laws;
(4) 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 state board shall promulgate a legislative rule pursuant to
article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code that sets forth
student absences that are excluded for accountability purposes.
The absences that are excluded by the rule include, but are not be
limited to, 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 file with the county superintendent and county board
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;
(5) Promote attendance in the county by compiling 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;
(6) Participate in school teachers' conferences with parents
(7) Assist in such other ways as the county superintendent may
direct for improving school attendance;
(8) 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
(9) Serve as the liaison for homeless children and youth.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide that five
unexcused occasions on which a student is tardy for school may
equal one unexcused absence.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from
the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would