Absent From School? - Tell it to the Judge

Judge Kraut realizes and understands that each student has different circumstances. It is his goal to keep students in school.  

By Pennsylvania law, a student is considered truant when, during the course of the school year, he/she has been absent from school for three or more days without an acceptable excuse. (sickness, quarantine, death in immediate family, weather so inclement as to endanger the health of the student or make roads impassable, observance of a major religious holiday, and other exceptional reasons with the approval of the school administration.)

Truancy historically has been a reliable predictor of juvenile delinquency and often is a signal of personal and/or family issues that have gone without appropriate interventions. Some of the issues include homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, child abuse/neglect, unmet educational needs and limited access to healthcare.

Court Objective

The goal of the court is to reach out to students and families to help reduce the truancy rate in our community. The school and the Court need the support of the parents. It is never too early for parents to impress upon their children the importance of attending school, except of course in documented cases of illness or emergencies. Students that show up daily, be it in class or later in life on the job, are the ones who in most instances wind up getting ahead, partly because they are present and accounted for when they are needed. Regular, reliable attendance only increases with age, as responsibilities in life increase as well.

The Pennsylvania Statutes Title 24 Section13-1327 is the basis of a school district truancy filing. Section 13-1327 A (students under 13, citation issued in parent's Name) 13-1333 Al (issued to parent with student 13 years or older) 13-1333 B1 (issued to student (13 years or older) provides that if a student is found to have been habitually truant (has unlawful absence for 3 days, 4th a day citation may be issued).

Sentences & Penalties

They may be sentenced to one or more of the following penalties:
  1. Student will be ordered to attend school;
  2. Student’s operating privilege (drivers license) may be suspended for not less than 90 days;
  3. Student and or parent/guardian may be ordered to participate in counseling or community service (8 hours for each day truant), and the cost may be assessed against the student or the parent or both;
  4. Student and or parent/guardian may be fined not more than $300 plus costs per day;
  5. Student may be placed under formal or informal supervision;
  6. Student and or parent/guardian may be ordered to participate in counseling at the parents' expense;
  7. Student and or parent/guardian may be ordered to comply with any other conditions reasonably relating to school attendance; and
  8. Student may be referred to CYF and possibly removed from their home.
After all evidence has been presented and closing arguments made, the trial is over. The court may then make an oral decision from the bench.