Education Court - Helping Kids Succeed in School
What is Education Court?
The Cass County Education Court is a specialized court designed to serve as a diversion for children in grades one through five who have excessive absences.
The process of Education Court holds parents accountable for ensuring their child attends school, while addressing barriers to school attendance for the family and supporting the child's education.
The Cass County Education Court is a multi-faceted process involving various stakeholders including local school districts, Cass County Prosecutor, Cass County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies, Cass County Juvenile Office, social service agencies, community health and mental health providers, and members of the judiciary of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri.
Cases are heard by a Judge and the court process is much like other judicial proceedings except the focus is on assessing the need for services, supporting the family as needed while ensuring accountability through all legal processes and resources available to the court if the parent fails to cooperate with the service providers and court to resolve the school attendance issue.
School districts utilize district protocol to address unexcused or excessive absences.
If a student's attendance rate drops to 92%, or the level consistent with district protocol, the school will submit the Education Court Referral Form to the Cass County Juvenile Office and the Cass County Prosecutor's Office.
The Cass County Prosecutor's Office then sends a warning letter to the parent as to the potential consequences for failing to ensure compliance with the compulsory school attendance requirements.
The Cass County Juvenile Office schedules an informal Adjustment Conference with the parent and consults with the parent as to possible court action by the Juvenile Court. They discuss the reasons for the absences and refer parents to services that may be needed.
The Juvenile Office continues to monitor the school attendance of the child to ensure that attendance has improved. The case may be dismissed if the issues are resolved or progress to the next step if absences continue.
Following that, if the student has eight or more unexcused absences the case is scheduled for the next Cass County Education Court session. The parent will be served a notice to appear. The school district will also be provided notice with the date and time of the hearing, with a request for a representative of the district to appear at the hearing and provide information concerning absences and academic progress or needs.
At the court hearing a school attendance contract, inclusive of referrals for services where appropriate, will be issued by the judge, or other action will be taken as deemed necessary by the Court. The case may be dismissed if deemed appropriate by the Court, or the case will progress to the next step if attendance issues are not resolved.
The Cass County Prosecutor's Office will review the case for formal charges and take action as appropriate. The Cass County Juvenile Office will review the matter for the filing of a petition in Juvenile Court and take action as appropriate.
The extent of the problem
Benefits of Education Court
Children who regularly attend school are less likely to be involved in the juvenile justice or adult court systems. Early educational success promotes the best opportunity for future academic achievement and social competencies for children and young adults and employment opportunities into adulthood. All children benefit from and deserve the quality education needed to succeed in today's world and that can only occur when the child regularly attends school. The Cass County Education Court ensures those opportunities exist for the children of Cass County, Missouri.
For Parents - What You Can Do
What are the requirements of parents regarding compulsory school attendance in Missouri?
Any person who has the charge, control or custody of a child from the age of five until the child turns 17 years of age (or other compulsory attendance age set by the district) is required to ensure the child attends school under §167.031 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.
What are the potential legal consequences for failing to ensure my child attends school as required?
Failure to comply with this compulsory school attendance law after conviction is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $300 for each day the child does not attend school. If you fail to ensure that your child maintains regular attendance at school, a report will be made to law enforcement and the prosecutor's office may file charges based on that report.
A petition may also be filed in the Juvenile Court by the Juvenile Officer alleging Educational Neglect pursuant to §211.031 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. The judge of the Juvenile Court may find that you neglected your child and order you to participate in services or may order that the child be removed from your home under certain serious circumstances where the attendance issues are not resolved and are shown to be detrimental to the child.