HB 410 passed in December 2016, creating changes in Ohio truancy law and how districts should address student discipline and interventions. The bill was created to address and reduce student absences while also minimizing involvement with the juvenile justice system. The changes take effect for the 2017-18 school calendar year.
Districts must take action to change their policies to align with HB 410. Specifically, “excessive truancy” must be removed from any zero tolerance policy and students may not be expelled or given an out-of-school suspension for truancy. Instead, districts must try to engage the student and family through parental notification, an absence intervention team and an absence intervention plan, before filing a complaint in juvenile court. Districts may not file a complaint until 61 days after implementation of an absence intervention plan fails.
One of the more significant HB 410 changes is the change in the definition of “habitual truant” and the removal of the term “chronic truant” from the law. “Habitual truant” is now defined in hours rather than days, and refers to child of a compulsory school age that is absent without legitimate excuse for any of the following:
- 30 or more consecutive hours
- 42 or more hours in one school month
- 72 or more hours in one school year
The law also now specifies that “excessive absences” are 38 or more hours in one school month or 65 or more hours in one school year (with or without a legitimate excuse). HB 410 further increased EMIS reporting obligations related to districts’ attempts to address student truancy.
Finally, while much of HB 410 addressed truancy and discipline related to truancy, the law also changes districts’ options for student discipline generally. Schools may no longer carry over a suspension into the following school year (although expulsions may still carry over from one year to the next). Instead, superintendents may require community service or some other alternative consequence for the number of hours remaining on the suspension.
The Ohio Department of Education has produced an FAQ document that further outlines districts’ responsibilities under HB 410.