School Attendance Matters (SAM)

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Every day. Every Grade.

Students who frequently miss school fall behind academically. While caused by a variety of factors, poor attendance makes it difficult for children to succeed in school, limiting their options for future success.  
It is for this reason that Minnesota law requires that all children aged 7-17 attend school, whether it be public, private, charteronline, or at home.

A child is legally considered to be a "continuing truant" if they have 3 unexcused absences in elementary school or miss 3 or more class periods on 3 days in middle and high school, and a "habitual truant" if they have 7 unexcused absences in elementary school or miss 1 or more class periods on 7 days in middle and high school.

Compulsory Education Law

Parents’ Responsibility

Parents/guardians are legally responsible for making sure their children attend school every day it's in session. Children are not allowed to miss school without legal excuse. 

The only legal reasons to miss school are: 

  • Sickness.
  • Doctor appointments.
  • Religious holidays.
  • Extreme family emergency.

If a child is going to miss school for any reason, parents/guardians must notify the school of the absence as soon as possible.

School’s responsibility

  • To provide a program/schedule that meets the student’s educational needs.
  • To address barriers to the child’s ability to attend and learn.
  • To maintain accurate attendance records and document communication with the students and parents/guardians about attendance.

Student's Responsibility

Education is key to your future. Your job is to be in school--every hour of every day.

When I was in 9th grade, I started missing more and more school. I had always enjoyed school, but my mom was struggling and needed my help at home. SAM staff was able to get my mom the help she needed so I could stay in school and not worry about her. Now, I'm on track to graduate next year and am applying to college!
11th grade student

The SAM Program

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office collaborates with schools, law enforcement, community agencies and child protection to intervene in absenteeism early. Our goal is to understand the reasons children are missing school and work with students and their families to remove those barriers so they are present every day and succeed in school and in life.

I really felt supported by SAM. The help I received in setting up programs for my student was awesome.
Parent of 11th grade student

To ensure children are present every day and succeed in school, we use a three-step process:

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Step 1: Informational Meeting Video

The Informational Meeting Video is provided for the families of students who have been referred to our program by their school for having 5 or more unexcused absences.
The video is about 12 minutes long and provides information on the lifelong benefits of education, legal requirements for school attendance, and the consequences of truancy/educational neglect.
If a student is 12 years of age or older, they should watch the video with their parent or guardian.

To receive credit for viewing the video, email RCAOSAMInfo@ramseycounty.us with your name, your child’s name and date of birth, and the ID# from the letter you received (if available).

If you have questions about your child's attendance record, believe they were referred to our program in error, or to report a change in enrollment, please contact your child's school directly.

Step 2: SART Meetings

Student Attendance Review Team (SART) Meetings are scheduled for families of students who have been referred to our program by their school for having 10 or more unexcused absences, and have already been offered the Informational Meeting Video.
SART Meetings are facilitated by an Assistant Ramsey County Attorney and also include Ramsey County Child Protection (if student is 11 years of age or younger), Ramsey County Youth Engagement Program (if student is 12 years of age or older) and a representative from the student’s school.
The purpose of a SART meeting is to assist in identifying any barriers affecting the student’s attendance and develop a plan to improve attendance. A contract is created to address these issues that parents/guardians and students 12 years of age or older will be asked to sign.
Students 12 years of age and older should attend the meeting with their parent or guardian.

**ATTENTION**
For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, SART meetings will be done exclusively by video conferencing or phone.

Saint Paul Public Schools​ & schools outside of Ramsey County

SART meetings take place at Oxford Community Center between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the following days:

  • Wednesdays - Students 11 years of age and younger.
  • Thursdays - Students 12 years of age and older.

Suburban & charter schools in Ramsey County

SART meetings are typically held at the student's school on Tuesdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

If you need to reschedule your SART meeting or to request a meeting by phone or video conferencing, please notify us as soon as possible by sending an email to RCAOSAMInfo@ramseycounty.us or leaving a message at 651-266-3238.

​School Closures: If your child's school is closed for any reason, all meetings will be canceled and rescheduled for a later date.

If you have questions about your child's attendance record, believe they were referred to our program in error, or to report a change in enrollment, please contact your child's school directly.

Step 3: Court

If attendance still does not improve after the first two steps, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office may bring the matter to court. If a child is 11 years of age or younger, legal action will be taken against the parents. If a child is 12 years of age or older, legal action will be taken against the student, the parents, or both.

For children 11 years of age or younger, parents can be petitioned to court for educational neglect and ordered to:

  • Pay fines.
  • Cooperate with Child Protection.
  • Participate in parenting classes, counseling sessions or other services designed to improve their children’s school attendance.

For children aged 12-17, parents or students can be petitioned to court for truancy and ordered to:

  • Pay fines.
  • Not drive until they turn 18 years old.
  • Be placed under the supervision of Ramsey County Human Services.
  • Participate in programs or services deemed appropriate for the student’s specific situation.

In extreme cases, children can be removed from their parents’ home and placed in foster care, with other adult family members, in a shelter, or in a group home.

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Informational Meeting Video

(Translations are available on YouTube in HmongKaren, and Spanish)

Information for Schools:
Making Referrals to the SAM Program

 

 

**COVID-19 UPDATES**
A letter from the SAM team regarding changes for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

If there is a chronically absent student enrolled at your school who lives in Ramsey County that you would like to refer to our program, please reference the information provided below.
If you have any questions after reviewing these materials, they can be directed to RCAOSAMInfo@ramseycounty.us.

SAM gives us an added tool and resource to help our students and families. The majority of students referred to SAM improve their attendance and experience success in school.
School staff member

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Referral Materials

Click on the links below to view and/or download the following documents:

Attendance Works Strategies for Connecting with Students and FamiliesIdeas and options to help contact students and families that have not been in touch during and/or due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Changes for the 2020-2021 School Year

SAM Program Overview and Referral Procedures

Referral Form
Completed referrals should be emailed to RCAOSAMReferrals@ramseycounty.us along with required documentation.

Referral Deadlines for the 2020-2021 School Year

     Petitions:                        Friday, April 9, 2021

     SARTs:                           Friday, April 16, 2021

     Informational Meetings:  Friday, April 23, 2021

In-School Contract

Before referring a student for a Step 2 SART meeting, schools should attempt an in-school contract with the student/family to address the attendance issues.
Click the link below to view and/or download a template available for use.

In-School Contract Form​

SAM Brochures

SAM brochures are available in five different languages. Click the links below to view and/or download scanned color copies.

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Education opens the doors of opportunity to good-paying jobs, paving our students' paths to successful careers. Without a high school diploma, many of our residents struggle to find work to make ends meet and, sadly, sometimes end up in the criminal justice system. 

Thank you, parents and school staff, for working with us to ensure all our students are in school learning so they can graduate with the skills they need to succeed.

- John J. Choi
Ramsey County Attorney