The Truancy Court Initiative was established as a partnership between Norfolk Public Schools and the Norfolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts in an effort to ensure all students are in compliance with Virginia’s compulsory attendance laws. The initiative attempts to help students with excessive unexcused absences to improve their attendance by providing support, and helping families in crisis secure needed services. The interdisciplinary team, which consists of representatives from Norfolk Public Schools, Norfolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, and community agency representatives, meets regularly to review truancy cases. The goal is to have students attending school regularly, and to avoid court involvement whenever possible. While the goal is to avoid court when possible, court intervention is an option and can be used to address parents that are unwilling to comply with the compulsory school attendance laws of Virginia.
Virginia Law indicates that if a student in any grade (kindergarten through 12th grade) has seven (7) of more unexcused absences during the school year, court proceedings will be initiated. Norfolk Public Schools’ Attendance Policy states that if elementary students miss 20 or more days in a year or if a secondary student misses 7 or more days in a semester, the student will be automatically retained. While truancy laws are only concerned with unexcused absences, the NPS Attendance Policy takes both excused and unexcused absences into consideration. A retention appeal for extraordinary circumstances is available through the building principal upon written request.