Regional Office of Education - Leslie Schermerhorn, Regional Superintendent of Schools

Truancy Prevention

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Request for Truancy Service

The Regional Office of Education, with substantial financial support from the McHenry County Board, coordinates an ongoing program to assist the region’s schools in requiring good school attendance. The McHenry County Truancy Officer works aggressively with schools and parents to intervene early and resolve school attendance problems. Partnerships formed among the Regional Office, the McHenry County State’s Attorney, and McHenry County Court Services have served the community well in resolution of school attendance issues.

McHenry County Truancy Officer
McHenry County Regional Office of Education 
2200 North Seminary Avenue (Route 47) 
Woodstock, Illinois 60098 
Office Phone: 815-334-4005
Fax: 815-338-0475 

Duties and responsibilities include those below:
  • Meet with school administrators, students and/or parents regarding school attendance problems.
  • Make home, school, and place of employment visits as necessary to remediate attendance problems. This may include early morning and late evening calls.
  • Assist with truancy related court appearances.
  • Log activities, update files and compile statistical information.
  • Report back to schools information secured regarding truancy cases.
  • Make referrals in consultation with school officials to community based agencies.
  • Other duties as assigned at the discretion of the McHenry County Truancy Officer.

Process of Truancy Correction through McHenry County ROE

Stage 1  
Stage 2  
Desired Result
Conference(s) with student
Parental contact(s) (phone/letter)
School conference(s) with parent/student
Counselor intervention(s)
Social worker intervention(s)
Change student schedule/program
In-school team meeting
Multi-disciplinary staffing
Testing as indicated (not necessarily special education)
Call truancy officer for support/advice
Stage 3  
Desired Result
Truancy letter sent; copy to school officials 
Parent/student contacted
Gather information; determine previous agency involvement
School conference
Medical contract
Referral to adult family counselor
Meet with family and assess their needs
Referral to community based agencies
Stage 4  
Desired Result
Parents, student, truancy officer, adult family counselor, school officials
ISP drawn and signed
Monitoring continues
Stage 5  
Desired Result
Adult court
Juvenile court
Truant in need of supervision
Review dates
Contempt for nonattendance per court order

Correlates of Future Attendance Problems

  1. Attendance patterns: frequent excused absences, suspicious excuses, frequent tardiness
  2. Poor classroom performance in general. 
  3. Limited participation in extracurricular activities and physical education. 
  4. Physical appearance: dress, personal hygiene, size, health. 
  5. Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, obesity. 
  6. Frequent change of schools and grief and loss issues for child. 
  7. Sibling performance in school was negative or sibling was a dropout or truant. 
  8. Family environment reveals problems, e.g. overprotective. 
  9. Two or more years behind in reading and/or mathematics. 
  10. Failure of one or more school years in elementary school. 
  11. Friends not school oriented or dropouts/truants. 
  12. Friends much older or substance abusers. 
  13. Feelings of not belonging/social isolation. 
  14. Behavior problems requiring disciplinary measures. 
  15. Recent divorce in the home or single parent home. 
  16. Recent death in the home or terminally ill parent. 
  17. Alcohol and/or drug abuse and/or child of alcoholic family system. 
  18. Emotional problems/psychosomatic illnesses: asthma, colitis, ulcers, eczema, enuresis, encopresis. 
  19. Absent from home without parental consent. 
  20. Lack of parental supervision before and/or after school. 
  21. Abused and/or neglected. (Spouse or child) 
  22. Disconnected or no phone during the last school year. 
  23. SED or LD placement, 
  24. Moved 4 or more times in elementary school. 
  25. 20 or more absences in kindergarten or 1st grade. 
  26. Separation issues of parent/child.
How Parents Can Help Students Stay in School
The following is a partial list of ways parents can help students stay in school. The key to regular school attendance is parent involvement. When parents are concerned about the educational experience and take an active interest in the educational process, their children are less likely to have attendance problems and are more likely to graduate.
  • Make education a family priority.
  • Build the child's self-confidence as a student by recognizing when he or she does well in school.
  • Help the child develop good study and work habits.
  • Develop a system of praise and rewards for good study habits, good grades, and other good school-related behaviors.
  • Schedule a daily period of home study time.
  • Help with homework when needed.
  • Meet the child's teachers and other school personnel. They can provide important insights into the child's school performance and suggest ways for improvement.
  • Get to know the child's friends and classmates. They can influence the child's school performance. Lack of friends or problems with classmates can also affect school performance.
  • Find ways to discuss issues, subjects and course materials being covered at school.
  • Help the child develop an interest in extra-curricular school activities such as sports, band, clubs, etc.
  • Get the child tutorial help with subjects that pose learning difficulties.
  • Help the child develop and achieve academic goals.
  • Emphasize the important role education plays throughout life.
  • Get involved with the P.T.A., P.T.O., or school board in order to better understand and help change the problems related to school attendance.
  • Develop a phone-in policy with the school to check on the child's daily attendance, or have the person in charge of school attendance alert you about non-attendance.
  • Explain how dropouts have more trouble getting and keeping jobs and make less money than graduates.
  • Develop a school or community program designed to educate parents, taxpayers and students about the topic of school attendance.  

How Educators Can Help Students Stay in School 

The following is a partial list of ways educators can help students stay in school and benefit from the total educational experience. When schools are concerned about EVERY student's educational experience, they usually develop students who are less likely to have attendance problems and are more likely to graduate.

  • Develop programs designed to identify potential truants and dropouts at an early age.
  • Find ways to boost each student's self-image.
  • Help each student to feel an important part of the school.
  • Support and encourage students with school-related difficulties, rather than ignore or discourage them because they pose problems.
  • Set achievable standards for students with learning difficulties.
  • Provide tutorial service for all students in need of extra help.
  • Provide student assistance programs.
  • Provide full (K-12) counseling programs.
  • Help socially isolated students learn to develop and maintain friendships.
  • Design a "buddy system" that matches one concerned staff member with one student who is experiencing school-related difficulties.
  • Encourage, invite, even assign students to participate in at least one extracurricular school activity.
  • Make sure parents who are recent immigrants understand the compulsory attendance laws and policies.
  • Develop an attendance policy that checks directly with parents whenever their children are absent.
  • Experiment with new programs to help truants and potential dropouts remain in school.
  • Offer alternative educational experiences and programs both within and outside of school.
  • Make strong ties with local industries and develop work/study experiences and programs.
  • Provide easy re-entry programs for students who have already dropped out.
  • Convince the school board of the need for spending money to help truants and potential dropouts stay in school. The loss of state reimbursement for absenteeism can be greater than the cost of preventive programs.
  • Develop a school or community program designed to educate parents, taxpayers, and students about school attendance.  
Attendance Suggestions
The following are offered in the spirit of collaboration that I hope has been established in our joint efforts to ensure good attendance for the students of McHenry County.
Attendance High Profile
Establish a value for good attendance by making it high profile throughout the district and throughout each building. Local administration and teachers can accomplish this goal in a variety of locally generated ways more creative, more complete, and more fittingly tailored to local circumstances than any program initiated by a central source such as the Regional Superintendent's Office.
Regular Reporting
Regularly report good as well as poor attendance to parents.
Intervene Early
Contact parents regarding attendance concerns. In addition, meet with the student to discuss attendance concerns.
Attendance Incentives
Reward good but not necessarily perfect attendance in ways appropriate to grade levels and community standards.
Record Keeping

Recognize that it takes two parties to create an excused absence, a parent/guardian presenting information and your acceptance of that information and recording it as meeting one of the statutory exemptions to the compulsory attendance statute. Multiple, continued excused absences unchallenged by the school administration typically increase as the child progresses through school. Finding in hindsight that one has enabled such a situation to continue and worsen is an uncomfortable place to be.

Distinguish in the school record among excused absences, unexcused absences, excused tardies and unexcused tardies Check marks and X's do not communicate well to parents and will not stand the challenge of judicial scrutiny when a truancy petition is filed either in the adult or juvenile courts.

Medical Excuse Policy
Implement a requirement for medical documentation beyond a reasonable number of parent excused illnesses. The written medical excuse should be on doctor's office letterhead, indicate the date the student was seen, the diagnosis, the dates medically excused, and the date the student can return to school. Reasonable as above is a local interpretation. 


Thank You
We again want to thank the school districts, social service agencies, local police and the court system for their support and cooperation.


Interactive Form
Request for Truancy Service - Interactive on-line form. Fill-out on screen, then print for mailing/faxing along with the student's attendance print out and other pertinent documentation.

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