The school law of Michigan/Compulsory Attendance at School

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CHAPTER VII.

TEACHERS.

COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE AT SCHOOL.

Michigan has a comprehensive law for compelling children to attend school. Previous to 1895 the authority of truant and district officers has been limited, and a general enactment was passed by the legislature giving additional power to those dealing with parents who are indifferent concerning the education of the children, or with truants who baffle the authority of their parents (Act 95, 1895).

Ages of Compulsory Education.

NUMBER OF MONTHS ATTENDANCE. Every parent, guardian, or other person in the state of Michigan having control and charge of any child between the ages of eight and fourteen years, and in cities between the ages of seven and sixteen years, is required to send such child to the public school for a period of at least four months in each school year (except that, in cities having a duly constituted police force, the attendance at school shall not be limited to four months), beginning on the first Monday of the first term commencing in his or her district after September 1, 1895, and of each year thereafter. Such attendance must be consecutive, and each and every pupil between the ages specified must have attended school the entire four months previous to the thirtieth day of June in each year.

PUPILS EXEMPTED.

1. Those who are being taught in private schools in such branches as are usually taught in public schools.

2. Pupils who have already acquired the ordinary branches of learning taught in public schools.

3. Children physically unable to attend school, if such fact is certified to by a reputable physician.

4. Those living more than two miles from any school house.

Truant Officer.

WHEN APPOINTED. The district board or board of education in each school district which has been organized as a graded school district or as a township district, previous to the tenth day of September of each year, appoints a truant officer for the term of one year from and after the first Monday of September of each year.

IN PRIMARY DISTRICTS. In townships whose districts are organized under the primary school law, the chairman of the township board of school inspectors is the truant officer and per- forms all the duties of truant officer, so far as the provisions of this law applies to the territory over which he has jurisdiction.

IN CITIES. In cities having a duly organized police force, it is the duty of the police authority, at the request of the school authorities, to detail one or more members of said force to perform the duties of truant officer.

COMPENSATION. The compensation of the truant officer is fixed in graded school districts by the board which appoints, and townships by the township board; and in no case can such compensation be less than one dollar and fifty cents per day for time actually employed under direction of the district board in performance of his official duties. The compensation of truant officers is allowed and paid in the same manner as incidental expenses are paid by such boards.

DUTIES. It is the duty of the truant officer to investigate all cases of truancy or non-attendance at school, and to render all services within his power to compel children to attend school; and, when informed of continued non-attendance by any teacher or resident of the school district, he shall immediately notify the persons having control of such children that, on the following Monday, such children must present themselves with the necessary text-books for instruction in the proper school of the district. The notice also informs said parent or guardian that attendance at school must be consecutive at least eight half days of each week until the end of that term, except in cities having a duly constituted police force, where attendance in school shall be continuous.

Penalty on Parents.

In case any parent, guardian, or other person having charge of children fails to comply with the provisions of this law, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than five dollars nor more than fifty dollars, or by imprisonment in the county or city jail for not less than two nor more than ninety days, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

Ungraded Schools.

In all city school districts having a school census of five hundred or more pupils, the school board or officers having in charge the schools of such districts may establish one or more ungraded schools for the instruction of juvenile disorderly persons. They may, through their truant officer and superintendent of schools, require such children to attend said ungraded schools or any department of their graded schools, as said board of education may direct.

Juvenile Disorderly Persons.

The following classes of persons between the ages of eight and fourteen years, and in cities between the ages of seven and sixteen years, are deemed juvenile disorderly persons, and shall, in the judgment of the proper school authorities, be assigned to the ungraded school or schools:

1. Habitual truants from any school in which they are enrolled as pupils.

2. Children who, while attending any school, are incorrigibly turbulent, disobedient, or insubordinate, or are vicious or immoral in conduct.

3. Children who are not attending any school and who habitually frequent streets and other public places, having no lawful business, employment, or occupation.

VIOLATION OF LAW. It is the duty of the truant officer, in case of a violation of of this law, within one week after having given the notice to the parent or guardian as specified above, to make a complaint for such refusal or neglect, against said parent, guardian, or other person having the legal charge and control of such child, before a justice of the peace in the city, village, or township where the party resides, except in cities having recorder’s or police court. And said justice of the peace, police judge, or recorder’s court, shall issue a warrant upon said complaint and shall proceed to hear and determine the same; and, upon conviction thereof, said parent, guardian, or other person, as the case may be, shall be punished by the fine and imprisonment above mentioned. It is the duty of all school officers, superintendents, or teachers, to render such assistance and furnish such information as they have at their command, to aid said truant officer in the fulfillment of his official duties.

COMMITMENT TO REFORMATORY.

COMPLAINT. When, in the judgment of school boards of primary and township school districts, or the superintendent of city schools and the truant officer, it becomes certain that all legal means have been exhausted in their attempts to compel the attendance at school of a juvenile disorderly person, the truant officer shall, in case the person in parental relation to the child neglects or refuses to do so, make a complaint against such juvenile disorderly person before a court of competent jurisdiction, that said child is a juvenile disorderly person.

SENTENCE. The justice of the peace or court shall issue a warrant and proceed to hear such complaint; and, if said justice of the peace or court shall determine that said child is a juvenile disorderly person, then said justice of the peace or court shall thereupon and after consultation with the county agent of corrections and charities, sentence such child, if a boy, to the Industrial School for Boys at Lansing, for a term not extending beyond the time when said child shall arrive at the age of seventeen years, unless sooner discharged by the board of control of said institution; or, if a girl, to the Industrial Home for Girls at Adrian, for a term not extending beyond the time when said child shall arrive at the age of seventeen years, unless sooner discharged by the board of control of said institution: Provided, That the sentence may be suspended, in case of the first offence.