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Introduced Version Senate Bill 447 History

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Senate Bill No. 447

(By Senators Palumbo and Plymale)

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[Introduced February 7, 2011; referred to the Committee on Education; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]

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A BILL to amend and reenact §18-8-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-8-2a, all relating to adding a possible period of incarceration for a first offense violation of school attendance requirements for parents, guardians or custodians of minor children; authorizing county school superintendents or their designees to request and obtain an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Resources of the household of a student with five or more unexcused absences; authorizing prosecuting attorneys to request and obtain attendance of Child Protective Services workers at hearings and meetings related to prosecution of violation of school attendance laws; and including criminal penalties.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That §18-8-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §18-8-2a, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 8. COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE.

§18-8-2. Offenses; penalties; cost of prosecution.

    (a) Any person who, after receiving due notice, shall fail fails to cause a child or children under eighteen years of age in that person's legal or actual charge to attend school in violation of the provisions of this article or without just cause, shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, shall, upon conviction of a first offense, be confined in jail for not more than forty-eight hours, fined not less than $50 nor more than $100 together with the costs of prosecution, or required to accompany the child to school and remain through the school day for so long as the magistrate or judge may determine is appropriate, or any combination thereof. The magistrate or judge, upon conviction and pronouncing sentence, may delay the sentence for a period of sixty school days provided the child is in attendance everyday during said the sixty-day period. Following the sixty-day period, if said the child was present at school for every school day, the delayed sentence may be suspended and not enacted. Upon conviction of a second offense, a fine may be imposed of not less than $50 dollars nor more than $100 together with the costs of prosecution and the person may be required to accompany the child to school and remain throughout the school day until such time as the magistrate or judge may determine is appropriate or confined in jail not less than five nor more than twenty days. Every day a child is out of school contrary to the provisions of this article shall constitute a separate offense. Magistrates shall have concurrent jurisdiction with circuit courts for the trial of offenses arising under this section.

    (b) Any person eighteen years of age or older who is enrolled in school who, after receiving due notice, fails to attend school in violation of the provisions of this article or without just cause, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, shall, upon conviction of a first offense, be fined not less than $50 dollars nor more than $100 together with the costs of prosecution and required to attend school and remain throughout the school day. The magistrate or judge, upon conviction and pronouncing sentence, may delay the imposition of a fine for a period of sixty school days provided the person is in attendance every day during said sixty-day period. Following the sixty-day period, if said student was present at school everyday, the delayed sentence may be suspended and not enacted. Upon conviction of a second offense, a fine may be imposed of not less than $50 dollars nor more than $100 together with the costs of prosecution and the person may be required to go to school and remain throughout the school day until such time as the person graduates or withdraws from school or confined in jail not less than five nor more than twenty days. Every day a student is out of school contrary to the provisions of this article shall constitute a separate offense. Magistrates shall have concurrent jurisdiction with circuit courts for the trial of offenses arising under this section.

    (c) Upon conviction of a third offense, any person eighteen years of age or older who is enrolled in school shall be withdrawn from school during the remainder of that school year. Enrollment of that person in school during the next school year or years thereafter shall be conditional upon all absences being excused as defined in law, state board policy and county board of education policy. More than one unexcused absence of such a student shall be grounds for the director of attendance to authorize the school to withdraw the person for the remainder of the school year. Magistrates shall have concurrent jurisdiction with circuit courts for the trial of offenses arising under this section.

§18-8-2a. Procedures to assist in assuring attendance of elementary and middle school students.

    (a) Whenever a child in kindergarten or grades one through eight is determined by a county school superintendent or his or her designee to have more than five unexcused absences from school in any one school year the superintendent shall inform the Community Service Manager for the Department of Health and Human Resources county office who shall cause a child protective services worker to visit the household of the student and attempt to determine the cause or causes of the unexcused absences and promulgate a written report of his or her findings and provide same to the superintendent of schools or his or her designee and the prosecuting attorney of the child’s county of residence within ten business days of the visit to the household.

    (b) Whenever a prosecuting attorney is pursuing a prosecution pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a), section two of this article he or she may request the attendance of a child protective services worker at court proceedings or meetings that are undertaken to resolve the cause of the unexcused absences. The community services manager for the child’s county of residence shall ensure the attendance of a child protective services worker at the proceeding or meeting.



    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to add a possible period of incarceration for a first offense violation of school attendance requirements for parents, guardians, or custodians of minor children. The bill would authorize county school superintendents or their designees to request and obtain an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Resources of the household of a student with five or more unexcused absences and authorize prosecuting attorneys to request and obtain attendance of childrens' protective services workers at hearings and meetings related to prosecution of violation of school attendance laws.


    Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.


     §18-8-2a is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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