South Carolina's laws mandate a joint-responsibility between parents, students and attendance supervisors to assure students attend school regularly. Penalties for truancy are strict, ranging from jail sentences for parents to suspended driver's licenses for students. Attendance supervisors in each South Carolina county provide valuable services to support at-risk students and compel truant students to attend school.
Title 59 of South Carolina's Code of Laws holds parents and guardians directly responsible for assuring their children or wards attend school regularly. This responsibility starts with kindergarten enrollment, which must occur the school year in which a child's fifth birthday falls before September 1. Parental responsibility for school attendance continues until the child turns 17 or graduates high school. Parents who do not compel their children to attend school face $50 fines and up to 30 days in jail for each absence.
South Carolina does not hold parents responsible when a child skips school without parental knowledge. Instead, the child may be declared delinquent by the court system and is then subject to the Juvenile Justice code, Title 63. Under Title 63, truancy is considered a "status offense," and can be punished in numerous ways, including suspending a minor's driver's license until he reaches the age of 17, or placing the child on probation. The court may also issue an official order for the child to attend school, which, if violated, gives the Department of Juvenile Justice permission to commit the child into custody.
South Carolina dedicates an entire article in the education code to attendance supervisors. Each county has at least one state-funded attendance supervisor who is elected by individual county boards of education before July first of each year. These supervisors have specific duties in relation to truant students, starting with directly contacting parents of truant students, procuring books and supplies for truant students who cannot afford them and accepting donations from charitable groups in the community to provide cash, clothing and other necessities to underprivileged students.
Section 59-65-30 of the South Carolina Code of Laws provides exceptions to attendance laws. Physicians and psychologists can issue a certificate declaring a child unable to attend school due to a mental or physical disability, but this only applies in districts where suitable special education classes are unavailable. If a child has a job and a court declares the job is necessary to maintain the family home, the child does not have to attend school so long as he has completed the eighth grade. The court reserves the right to monitor job status until the child reaches the age of 17. School districts may also grant temporary attendance waivers for children who become parents and cannot find appropriate daycare options.
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