School Attendance Matters (SAM)

Contact us

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:

Beginning of tab section with 3 tabs. Left and right arrow keys will navigate between tab navigation links.

Step 1: Informational Meetings

Informational Meetings are provided for the families of students who have been referred to our program by their school for having 5 or more unexcused absences. The meetings are about 30 minutes long, facilitated by an Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, and provide information on the lifelong benefits of education, legal requirements for school attendance, and the consequences of truancy/educational neglect.

Good news! 79% of students improve their attendance after step one!

This part of our program can be completed by watching an online video or attending a meeting in-person.
If a student is 12 years of age or older, they should watch the video or attend the meeting with their parent or guardian.

  • Online Video Meeting: This video may be watched instead of attending an in-person Informational Meeting. Please follow the instructions included in the video to receive credit for viewing.
  • In-Person Informational Meeting Schedule
    • Weather Cancellations: If schools are closed due to weather, any meetings scheduled that day will be canceled.
      Instead, please watch the online video and follow the instructions included in the video to receive credit, or choose a different in-person meeting to attend from the schedule above. 

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 an Informational Meeting. 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.

Saint Paul Public Schools​

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 and charter schools

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, please notify us as soon as possible by sending an email to RCAOSAMInfo@ramseycounty.us or leaving a message at 651-266-3238.

  • Weather Cancellations: If schools are closed due to weather, any meetings scheduled that day 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.

Back to tab navigation. End of tab content.
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

Information for Schools:
Making Referrals to the SAM Program

If there is a chronically absent student(s) 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.

Beginning of tab section with 3 tabs. Left and right arrow keys will navigate between tab navigation links.

Referral Materials

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

Program Overview and Referral Procedures

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

Referral Deadlines for the 2019-2020 School Year

     Petitions:                        Friday, April 10, 2020

     SARTs:                           Friday, April 17, 2020

     Informational Meetings:  Friday, April 24, 2020

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.

Back to tab navigation. End of tab content.

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