Students who are six-years-old as of Sept. 1 and who have not attained the age of 17 as of Sept. 1 must go to school as required by state law.
Under the state statute, a parent or guardian who has been notified of their child's excessive absences "shall be guilty of contributing to the neglect of a child." Section 97-5-39 lays out the penalty for that crime: A fine not to exceed $1,000 or up to a year of imprisonment.
There are limited exceptions that must be approved by the school board in specific cases and that usually requires an appearance before the school board for board approval.
The following are some of the exceptions for a child not being in school.
Excused Absence – There are seven valid excuses for temporary nonattendance.
Habitual Truant – a student who has accumulated 12 or more unlawful absences, excluding suspension and expulsion days, in a school year, which shall result in the filing of a petition by the school attendance officer.
Truant – a student that has accumulated five or more unlawful absences in a school year, excluding suspension and expulsion days, can be deemed a truant.
Unlawful absence – Also known as an unexcused absence an unlawful absence is an absence during a school day without a valid excuse.
Each local school district shall determine whether an absence is excused or unlawful based on the Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance Law §37-13-91 of the Mississippi Code 1972.
Again, the goal of this legislation is not to put parents in jail or issue fines, but get kids in school.