Dotting I’s and Crossing Out Absences: West Virginia Board of Vocational Schools Revises Truancy Procedures | News, Sports, Jobs
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Dotting I’s and Crossing Out Absences: West Virginia Board of Vocational Schools Revises Truancy Procedures | News, Sports, Jobs


Dotting I’s and Crossing Out Absences: West Virginia Board of Vocational Schools Revises Truancy Procedures | News, Sports, Jobs

(Notes from the Capitol – Graphic Illustration/MetroCreative)

CHARLESTON — With the relationship between homeschoolers, county school systems and state mandated attendance requirements in mind, the governing board of West Virginia’s public charter schools received a briefing on how charter schools are handling truancy issues. During its regular virtual monthly meeting Wednesday morning, the Professional Charter School Board received a briefing on how the state’s four public charter schools and two virtual public charter schools across the state track and report unexcused absences to county school systems. James Paul, executive director of the Professional Charter School Board, explained that PCSB statutes require all public charter schools to have a policy in their statutes addressing unexcused absences in accordance with State Code and mandatory attendance laws. Three unexcused absences in a row requires the public charter school to make meaningful contact with the student and their family and outline steps to help the student get back into compliance. Five unexcused absences will trigger another meeting between the public charter school and the family. Once a student reaches 10 unexcused absences, the public charter school is required to contact the county school system and/or county attendance officer to arrange a home visit or pursue further legal action.
“The county board of education attendance officer must be notified of this student’s address so that the county board of education can arrange a home visit or take any other action the county board of education attendance officer deems appropriate to ensure that someone is keeping an eye on the student.” Paul said. In the case of the two statewide virtual public charter schools, the schools have policies for expelling students when they are not participating in required academic activities. If a student is expelled, the statewide virtual charter schools are required to contact the county school system where the student lives.
“I’ve also spoken to leaders of virtual charter schools to make sure they have policies in place regarding student drop-offs, not just policies for the schools themselves, but also that they are committed to ensuring that no child is left behind.” said Paul. “If a student leaves a charter school, we expect the school to do everything it can to help that child find a spot in the next educational option that meets their needs.”
The review was conducted after a recent review of the April death of 14-year-old Kyneddi Miller, who was discharged from Boone County Public Schools in 2021. Miller was found in a nearly skeletal state by Boone County police officers. Her mother and two grandparents face charges related to her death. Under state law, homeschooled children are exempt from mandatory homeschooling laws provided the parent and/or guardian submits to the county superintendent the results of the child’s academic assessments for grades three, five, eight and 11 by June 30 of the year the assessment was conducted. Parents who fail to submit the required assessments may be found in violation of mandatory homeschooling laws and may be subject to criminal prosecution for truancy. According to an internal investigation, Miller’s family did not submit her eighth-grade assessment to Boone County Schools, and the county never contacted the family. The state code leaves jurisdiction over mandatory attendance laws up to individual counties. According to the state Department of Education, the state code does not set specific requirements or authorizations for county attendance directors or superintendents to address homeschooling families who fail to submit required assessments. State leaders and legislators are considering strengthening the state code to require county school systems to follow up on non-submissions of assessments. Paul said public charter schools also face a similar problem with county school systems when it comes to communication, although he said the state Department of Education is working to improve communication and relationships between public charter schools and the county school systems in which those charter schools are located.
“Communication between the bylaws and the attendance directors is really the most important thing” said Paul. “I just want to tell the board that I think this is a process that could improve communication on both sides. I’ve noticed that communication has improved over time, but I’ve been told by charter school leaders that they typically don’t even get noticed by attendance directors when they’re contacted about disenrollment.”
Also Wednesday, the PCSB learned that four public charter schools have applied for subgrant funding, which is made possible through the U.S. Department of Education’s Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools program. The PCSB received $12.2 million last year over five years through the program. A review panel will review the subgrant applications between Friday and Aug. 2. The PCSB will vote on the applications at its Aug. 8 meeting. The PCSB is also seeking vendors to provide technical assistance to public charter school boards and to help the PCSB solicit new applications for public charter schools.
“We’re glad to see this happen because it’s always nice to get help starting new charter schools in the state.” said PCSB Deputy Director Dusty Hurley. Physical public charter schools include Eastern Panhandle Preparatory Academy in Kearneysville, West Virginia Academy in Morgantown, Workforce Initiative (WIN) Academy in South Charleston and Clarksburg Classical Academy. MECCA Business Learning Institute in Charles Town will begin in the fall. Virtual public charter schools across the state include Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia and West Virginia Virtual Academy.
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at [email protected]



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