Code of the District of Columbia

§ 38–203. Enforcement; penalties.

(a) An accurate daily record of the attendance of all minors covered by § 38-202 and this section shall be kept by the teachers of each educational institution. These records shall be open for inspection at all times by the Board, the State Superintendent of Education, school attendance officers, or other persons authorized to enforce this subchapter.

(b) Repealed.

(c)(1) The absence of a minor covered by § 38-202(a) without valid excuse shall be unlawful.

(2) An absence of a minor covered by § 38-202(a) who is enrolled in a public school is deemed unexcused unless the minor's parent, guardian, or other person who has custody or control of the minor provides the school with a valid excuse for the minor's absence within 5 school days upon the minor's return to school.

(d) The parent, guardian, or other person who has custody or control of a minor covered by § 38-202(a) who is absent from school without a valid excuse shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(e) Any person convicted of failure to keep a minor in regular attendance in a public, independent, private, or parochial school, or failure to provide regular private instruction acceptable to the Board may be fined not less than $100 or imprisoned for not more than 5 days, or both for each offense.

(f) Each unlawful absence of a minor for 2 full-day sessions or for 4 half-day sessions during a school month shall constitute a separate offense.

(f-1) Repealed.

(f-2) Repealed.

(g) For the 1st offense, upon payment of costs, the sentence may be suspended and the defendant may be placed on probation.

(h) For any person convicted under this section, the courts shall consider requiring the offender to perform community service as an alternative to fine or imprisonment or both.

(i) Within 60 days after the end of a school year, each public, independent, private, or parochial school shall report to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and make publicly available the following data for each school or campus under its authority based on the preceding school year:

(A) The number of minors, categorized by grade, or equivalent grouping for ungraded schools, who had unexcused absences for:

(i) One to 5 days;

(ii) Six to 10 days;

(iii) Eleven to 20 days; and

(iv) Twenty-one or more days;

(A-i) The work of the school-based student support teams in reducing unexcused absences, including:

(i) The number of students who were referred to a school-based student support team;

(ii) The number of students who met with a school-based student support team;

(iii) A summary of the action plans and strategies implemented by the school-based student support team to eliminate or ameliorate unexcused absences; and

(iv) A summary of the services utilized by students to reduce unexcused absences;

(v) A summary of the common barriers to implementing the recommendations of the school-based student support team;

(B) The number of minors, categorized by grade, or equivalent grouping for ungraded schools, that the school reported to the Child and Family Services Agency pursuant to § 4-1321.02(a-1) and (a-2);

(B-i) The number of minors categorized by grade, or equivalent grouping for ungraded schools, that the school referred to the Court Social Services Division of the Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for truancy; and

(C) The policy on absences, including defined categories of valid excuses, that it used.

(j) By August 1, 2012, the Mayor shall develop, through rulemaking, appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure that each school, principal, and teacher is in full compliance with the requirements of this subchapter and any regulations issued pursuant to this subchapter.

(k) By November 30 of each year, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education shall publicly report on the state of absenteeism in the District based on data from the preceding school year, including an analysis of truancy and chronic absenteeism by school or campus and the impact of current laws on improving school attendance.


(Feb. 4, 1925, 43 Stat. 806, ch. 140, Art. I, §§ 5-7; renumbered as Art. II, § 2 and amended, Mar. 8, 1991, D.C. Law 8-247, § 2(a), 38 DCR 376; Oct. 26, 2010, D.C. Law 18-242, § 3(b), 57 DCR 7555; June 7, 2012, D.C. Law 19-141, § 302(b), 59 DCR 3083; Sept. 19, 2013, D.C. Law 20-17, § 303(b), 60 DCR 9839; July 26, 2016, D.C. Law 21-140, § 2(c), 63 DCR 8207; Dec. 13, 2017, D.C. Law 22-33, § 4143, 64 DCR 7652; Aug. 25, 2018, D.C. Law 22-157, § 3(a), 65 DCR 7499.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 31-403.

1973 Ed., §§ 31-20531-207.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 38-2605.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 18-242 added subsec. (i).

D.C. Law 19-141 added subsecs. (i)(A-i), (B-i), and (j).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-17 substituted “educational institution” for “public, independent, private, or parochial school and by every teacher who gives instruction privately” in (a); and, in (b), substituted “head teacher, teacher who gives private instruction” for “head teacher” and “educational institution” for “”educational institution“ for ”public, independent, private, or parochial school, and each teacher who gives private instruction.”

Applicability

Section 4150 of D.C. Law 22-33 provided that the amendment made to this section shall apply as of June 27, 2017.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 4143 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-167, Oct. 24, 2017, 64 DCR 10802).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 4143 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-104, July 20, 2017, 64 DCR 7032).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(c) of School Attendance Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-476, July 21, 2016, 63 DCR 10181).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(c) of School Attendance Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-410, June 1, 2016, 63 DCR 8202).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 303(b) of the Attendance Accountability Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-133, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11531, 20 DCSTAT 1973).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of D.C. Law 19-141, § 601, see § 4112 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of D.C. Law 19-141, § 601, see § 4112 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 4111 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle K of Title IV of the act may be cited as the “South Capitol Street Memorial Amendment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Section 601 of D.C. Law 19-141, as amended by D.C. Law 19-168, § 7004, provided that §§ 302(b)(1), 304, and 502(a) of the act shall apply upon the inclusion of their fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan.

Section 601 of D.C. Law 19-141, as amended by D.C. Law 20-61, § 4112, provided that §§ 302(b)(1)(A) and (C) and 304(b)(1)(D) of D.C. Law 19-141 shall apply to public charter schools upon the inclusion of their fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan, as certified by the Chief Financial Officer to the Budget Director of the Council in a certification published by the Council in the District of Columbia Register. Section 302(b)(1)(A) of D.C. Law 19-141 added § 38-203(i)(A-i); Section 302(b)(1)(C) of D.C. Law 19-141 added § 38-203(i)(B-i); and Section 304(b)(1)(D) of D.C. Law 19-141 added 5 DCMR § A2103(c)(6).