School attendance -It’s the law!


Minnesota State Statute 260A requires that children attend school between the ages of 7 to 18. Truancy is a violation of Minnesota state law. The parents, school, and community are all partners in working towards the goal of school attendance and educational success. 
The law mandates that parents send their child to school. Poor attendance is the primary reason students fail to graduate on time. 
The greatest consequences for truancy are not the court sanctions. Children who do not attend school often do not graduate and find it difficult to get a job. They are more likely to become involved in delinquent and ultimately criminal behavior. Truancy limits their opportunities and can become the beginning of what could be a lifetime of problems. 


Examples of excused absences include:

  • Sickness (a doctor’s note may be required)
  • Medical appointments (made after school hours)
  • Mental Health appointments (made after school hours)
  • Extreme Family Emergency

Examples of unexcused absences include:

  • Missing the bus
  • Oversleeping
  • Cold weather
  • Babysitting
  • Employment
  • Need for sleep



TRUANCY (Ages 12+)

A child’s willful absence without lawful excuse from one or more class periods on seven different school days.



Minn. Stat. 260A.02 Subd. 3(1)-(2) provides that a continuing truant is a student who is subject to the compulsory instruction requirements of Minn. Stat. 120A.22 and is absent from instruction without valid excuse within a simple school year for: 
  • Three days if the child is in an elementary school; or
  • Three or more class periods on three days if the child is in middle school, junior high school, or high school.


Minn. Stat 260C.007, Subd. 19 defines a habitual truant as:
  • A child under the age of 17 years who is absent from attendance at school without lawful excuse for seven school days per school year if the child is in elementary school or for one or more class periods on seven school days per school year if the child is in middle school, junior high school, or high school; or
  • A child who is 17 years of age who is absent from attendance at school without lawful excuse for one or more class periods on seven school days per school year and who has not lawfully withdrawn from school pursuant to Minn. Stat. 120A.22, Subd. 8. 


A parent or guardian’s failure to ensure the child attends school as required by law.

  • A child’s absence from school is presumed to be due to child’s caregiver’s lack of compliance to compulsory instruction laws. This is a child protection issue.


  • After child has missed at least 3-4 days of school, the school will send a letter and brochure home to the family.
  • If absences continue, school emails county attorney to send a letter to the home and the school will go out to the home to complete a welfare check. 
  • If absences continue, county attorney will set up a mediation meeting to have with the school, family, and WCHS to discuss why absences are continuing and work to resolve those barriers. 
  • Family will be expected to attend the meeting whether in person or virtual.
  • If absences continue after the meeting, a report will be made to WCHS and Child Protective Services will become involved at this time to conduct a family assessment. 
  • If absences continue, a CHIPS petition maybe filed and the child may have to appear in court.

Legal consequences of truancy/ Educational neglect

If a student continues to be truant after all less restrictive interventions have been made, the matter will be referred to the Wadena County Attorney’s Office. The student can be deemed Child in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS). The judge has the authority to order a variety of consequences or dispositions. 

  • Child may lose their driving privileges

  • A child may be assigned community service hours.

  • A child may be ordered to undergo an evaluation and treatment for chemical dependency or mental health issues. 

  • A child may be ordered out of the home to ensure school attendance. 

  • A child may be placed on home detention and cannot leave the residence unless at school or with a parent. 

  • The court may impose consequences on the parent. 

  • The court may impose any other services that it deems appropriate. 

  • Human Services may do a Family Assessment. 


  • Tell child that their education is important to you.
  • Set clear boundaries for a child
  • Have a set bedtime and morning routine
  • Help your child with their homework
  • Buy your child an alarm clock
  • If your child does not want to attend school, ask them why and help to resolve those barriers
  • Take TV, computer, and cell phone out of your child’s room at night.


  • Higher paying jobs
  • Better career opportunities
  • Less risk of being unemployed
  • Improves lifelong skills
  • Less likely to engage in criminal behavior


  • Wadena County Human Services: 218-631-7605                      


  • Community Concern for Youth Program (CCY): 218-631-7618
  • Wadena County Human Services (WCHS): 218-631-760
  • Wadena County Attorney’s Office: 218-631-7739