Once a child misses 5 days of school and the unexcused absences begin to interfere with the education of the child, the school sends a letter to the parents notifying them of the problem. This first letter is intended to remind parents of the legal obligation to send a child to school, as well as highlight certain consequences for failing to do so. The letter also makes suggestions for improving the child's attendance.
If the letter generated in Step 1 fails to correct the problem and the child continues to have unexcused absences, a second letter is sent to the parents. A copy of this letter is also sent to the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office and the Department of Human Services.
This second letter schedules a specific appointment for the parents to attend to discuss the matter directly with the school administration. The letter also sets forth the legal penalties for failing to send a child to school, including a mandatory 2 days of jail (MCL 380.1599).
Upon receipt of the copy of the second letter, the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office also sends a letter to the parents urging them to attend the meeting scheduled with the school.
If attendance continues to be a problem after the scheduled meeting, or if the parents fail to attend, the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office makes contact with the parents and schedules an appointment for the parents and the child to meet directly with an Assistant Prosecutor. At that time, the parents are offered an opportunity to enter into the Social Justice Truancy Intervention Contract.
The contract offers the parents and child an opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution provided there are no further unexcused absences, the child agrees to participate in specific positive activities, and both the parents and child cooperate with Mediation and Restorative Services.
If Step 3 fails to correct the child's attendance problem, criminal charges are filed against the parents, if appropriate, and delinquency charges may be filed against the child.