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School Attendance Law and Definitions

Michigan Compulsory Attendance Law
The law in Michigan governing compulsory attendance requires a parent, legal guardian, or other person having control or charge of a child age six to sixteen to send the child to school during the entire school year, except under the limited circumstances specified in subsection (3) of section 380.1561. A child who was age eleven on or after December 1, 2009 or who was age eleven before that date and entered grade 6 in 2009 or later shall attend school from age six to eighteen. The exceptions include, but are not limited to, sending the child to a state-approved, nonpublic school or educating the child at home in an organized educational program. Although the compulsory school attendance law does not apply to children under the age of six, a child who is at least five years of age by December 1 of the school year and is a resident of a school district which provides kindergarten work is entitled to enroll in the kindergarten [MCL 380.1147].

School Justice Partnership Definitions 
Jackson County, in partnership with the School Justice Partnership Committee, is working collaboratively to create clear, county-wide definitions, policies, and steps to improve student attendance. You can find these emerging definitions below.  

Chronically absent means absent for 10% or more of the enrolled school days in a school year, whether absenteeism is due to unexcused, excused, or disciplinary absences. (For instance, missing 3 days of school the first month of the year; 8 days in the first half of the year; or 18 days in the entire school year.) Note: All absences for the school year should be counted, even if they have carried over from a different school.

Disciplinary absence means absences that result from school or district disciplinary action and are neither unexcused nor excused absences.

Truant means a child who has ten (10) or more unexcused absences per school year. A child should be counted as truant only once in a given school year. Once deemed truant, a child shall be monitored throughout the school year until improved attendance is consistent.

Tardy/Late Absences A student who enters a classroom after the bell is considered tardy, unless excused. Tardy students not only miss learning time, but also interrupt the learning of other students in class. 

Excused absences include the following: 

  • Student illness/injury with doctor’s note
  • Medical appointments
  • Religious holidays
  • Extreme family emergencies
  • Lice (3 days)
  • Funeral/death in family
  • Mandated court appearances (documented)
  • Placement by Juvenile Court in detention, shelter care, foster care or residential placement.
  • Educational opportunities approved by school officials
  • Homelessness

 Unexcused absence is any absence not accounted for above, examples of unexcused absences include, but not limited to:

  • Staying home to baby-sit
  • Overslept
  • Travel
  • Needed at home
  • Weather
  • Missed bus
  • Child is not immunized
  • Sickness (not documented)
  • Willful truancy (skipping)