111 Kids and the Law ATTENDANCE According to Massachusetts law, it is the duty of the adult(s) responsible for a child to have that child attend school. The Massachusetts Board of Education requires all children between the ages of six and 16 to attend school. If the adult fails to have the child attend school for seven days or 14 half-days in any six-month period, the adult(s) may be brought before the juvenile court and charged with “Failure to Send.” The maximum punishment is a $20.00 fine. “Failure to Send” petitions are heard in juvenile court. They are considered civil cases and therefore parents will not be appointed attorneys. Students between the ages of 14 and 16 who hold a permit for employment are still required to attend school. Schools shall notify a parent or guardian of a student’s absence if the student has five or more days of unexcused absence in a school year. The principal or designee (a person selected by the superin- tendent to act on his or her behalf) shall make a reasonable effort to meet with the parent or guardian of the student to develop a plan to address the student’s attendance problems. The Child Requiring Assistance (See Chapter 4) statute defines truancy as a student between the ages of six and 16 who willfully fails to attend school for more than eight school days in a quarter. SCHOOL DROPOUTS Within five days of a student’s 10th consecutive absence, the superintendent or designee shall meet with the student and parent or guardian to discuss the reasons for the student leaving school and to consider alternative education or other placements. If possible, communication between school and parent or guardian should be in the primary language of the parent or guardian. At the meeting, the school shall give the student information about the negative effects of leaving school, the benefits of earning a high school diploma, and the alternative education programs and services available to the student. Legal Issues Related to School Legal Issues Related to School 10 10