Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart talks about the about-to-begin school year and with so many students opting for "distance learning," how his office will deal with a possible increase in truancy.

Stewart begins by explaining his office's long term relationship with the Caddo Schools Superintendent in dealing with the problem. "We've always been there for support and enforcement when necessary," he says, also giving kudos to Willis Knighton for their help. "Getting all our kids in school and keeping them off the street really helps us all in the long run. But we're in a new normal. But the conversations I've had with Superintendent (Lamar) Goree say compulsory attendance is still there for all three options. That's where we come in. Supporting the parents who have an make sure that their kids are in the educational process."

The State of Louisiana Compulsory Attendance Law mandates that students cannot be absent more than 10 unexcused days during the academic year. Any student who exceeds that number can be retained in their current grade.
In most cases the first step in the truancy court process involves a summons or notice to the parent or guardian. The hearing can take place at the school before a magistrate or in court before a judge.
Before a person may be subject to criminal charges, when there have been five consecutive or ten total unexcused absences of a child during a school year, the parent must receive written notice that within ten days of receipt of the notice the parent or guardian, accompanied by the child, attend an in-person meeting with the principal or other representative of the school in order to discuss and correct the circumstances causing the unexcused absences.

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