Madisonville, KY: "40 percent of [Kentucky] students met the definition for being habitually truant"

Sept 25, 2017, Madisonville (KY) Messenger: Why aren’t your kids in school? Ky. has a truancy problem. See how bad it is. Kentucky parents, your kids have a serious school attendance problem. Consider this your collective note from the principal’s office. And then consider these astounding stats: In the 2015-2016 school year, more than 60 percent of Kentucky students were truant, and approximately 40 percent of students met the definition for being habitually truant, according to a recent Kentucky Office of Education Accountability study. Under Kentucky law, a student with three unexcused absences in a school year is considered truant. Under the law, a student who has been tardy without a valid excuse on three or more days, is also considered truant. Any student who has been reported as a truant two or more times is a habitual truant, a classification that can trigger a Kentucky school district to file a complaint with the state court system. … Kentucky school districts, including Fayette County, have an increasing problem with chronic absenteeism, defined as a student missing 17.4 days in a school year for any reason. Several groups at the local and state level are currently working to come up with ways of addressing chronic absenteeism. In Fayette County, the rate of chronic absenteeism has risen from 14.6 percent in 2011-2012 to 15.2 percent in 2015-2016, according to the report. … Mandy Sommer, a parent from Berea, said she is concerned about how the state’s truancy policies affect children who receive special education services or who have medical or mental health issues. She said she thinks the law should be rewritten so that a single statement from a physician could be submitted to address chronic medical issues, rather than a doctor’s note for every absence. Sommer said her middle-school-age son has an anxiety-based disorder, is prone to panic attacks that require him to be out of the classroom, but don’t always require a doctor’s visit. Sommer said she received phone calls and letters from the school district last year, and was even threatened with court action because her son didn’t have a doctor’s note each time he missed school.