Education is powerful. It can energize, enlighten and, quite simply lead to better jobs. The statistics regarding educational neglect can be alarming. For example, nearly one-half of all dropouts ages 16-24 are unemployed. High school dropouts earn an average of $270,000 less than graduates over the course of their lives. For Georgians, this represents a $7.3 billion loss in earning potential. Many social issues can be linked to educational neglect: Drop outs are six times more likely to be unwed parents and they are 7.5 times more likely to be dependent on welfare. Truancy is the number one predictor among boys and the number two predictor among girls of future criminal activities. In Georgia, 88% of all prison inmates are high school drop-outs. And, 90% of the inmates in the DeKalb County Jail never obtained their high school diploma.
The State of Georgia requires that all children between the ages of six and 16 must attend school pursuant to the Compulsory School Attendance Act in O.C.G.A. 20-2-690, et. seq. That law provides that any parent, guardian, or any person that has control over a child must enroll that the child in public or private school (or a State-approved home school program) and make sure that child attends school. Any person that violates the compulsory attendance law shall be guilty of educational neglect, a misdemeanor offense. Parents and guardians face penalties for each day that a child is absent (without a valid excuse) after five unexcused absences, which can include oversleeping, not feeling like going to school, staying home to work or babysit, or keeping a lonely parent company. Individuals convicted of violating the State of Georgia law requiring that kids aged six to 16 attend school can be fined, sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to perform community service.
Solicitor-General Boston’s Educational Neglect and Truancy Unit investigates and prosecutes parents and guardians who fail to ensure their children are enrolled in and continuously attend school, and provides programs and resources to help prevent truancy. A team of trained professionals partnering with the Solicitor’s Office work to identify and counsel chronically absent children and their parents before the absenteeism escalates to criminal prosecution.
Attendance Review Team (ART)
The Solicitor-General offers parents and guardians who are identified as having children that are chronically absent from school an opportunity to complete a diversion program through the Attendance Review Team (ART). This program is for individuals that have chronically absent children, but the absenteeism has not escalated to a level requiring a formal criminal prosecution. In the ART program parents and guardians are allowed to sign an attendance contract agreeing that their child will have no unexcused absences and that they will meet with the child’s teacher, counselor, or social worker at least one time per month for a specified period of time. Failure to complete those conditions will result in criminal prosecution. Download our brochure on Educational Neglect.
Other Pre-Trial Diversion Programs include: