With education paramount to a child’s future, it is of the utmost importance that we ensure our students are consistently attending class. In recent years, schools across Ohio have experienced a trend of truancies and have not been able to effectively address them.

To address this issue in a timely and effective way, the Ohio House of Representatives is working on House Bill 410, a piece of legislation that seeks to bring some uniformity to this policy in our state’s school districts. Other goals of the bill are to encourage early intervention for frequent student absences, provide tools to find the causes of the absences and to avoid criminalization as a result of absences.

It is critical that truancy cases are settled more quickly. A school year moves along rapidly, so a process that takes upwards of several months to solve can drastically push back a child’s development in school. House Bill 410 will require school districts to notify parents within seven days of their children’s excused or unexcused absences when they reach 90 percent of the habitual truancy level.

This bill also increases notification requirements for schools and courts so that absences can be addressed sooner. Courts and schools will be given ample opportunities to solve the attendance problem, which I believe in the long run serves both the students and the schools in the best way.

Truancy is sometimes much more than just missing school, which is why finding its underlying cause is essential. If passed, this legislation will provide schools with the permission to create a plan to find the root of the truancy problem. Another step this bill takes is to remove truancy from the zero tolerance policy and require that a policy on school consequences be adopted by the Ohio Department of Education.

Attendance in our schools is extremely important and we must set standards in order to make sure that both schools and students are doing their part. The need for this reform is strong, which is why I am hopeful that this legislation will pass and establish change in schools’ absence policies.

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