State of Alabama C.L.D.
State of Alabama
Released for Publication August 5, 2015.
Appeal from Marshall Juvenile Court Nos. JU-11-31.04, JU-12-99.04, John M. Mastin, Trial Judge.
For Appellants: Hugh M. Flanagan, Long, Flanagan & McDonald, LLC, Guntersville.
DONALDSON, Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Moore, JJ., concur.
These consolidated appeals present a matter of first impression for this court: whether, for purposes of determining if a child is in need of supervision under the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act (" the AJJA" ), § 12-15-101 et seq., Ala. Code 1975, a juvenile court may rely on a local school board's definition of the term " truancy," if it differs from the definition of that term as promulgated by the Alabama State Board of Education (" the ASBE" ) in the Alabama Administrative Code.
Under the AJJA, a child in need of supervision is defined to include
" [a] child who has been adjudicated by a juvenile court for doing any of the following and who is in need of care, rehabilitation, or supervision:
" a. Being subject to the requirement of compulsory school attendance, is habitually truant from school as defined by the State Board of Education in the Alabama Administrative Code."
§ 12-15-102(4)a., Ala. Code 1975 (emphasis added). The ASBE promulgated Rule 290-3-1-.02(7)(c), Ala. Admin. Code (" the rule" ), which provides, in pertinent part, a definition of " truancy" :
" (c) Truancy Definition. A parent, guardian, or other person having charge of any child officially enrolled in Alabama public schools (K-12) shall explain in writing the cause of any and every absence of the child no later than three (3) school days following return to school. A failure to furnish such explanation shall be evidence of the child being truant each day he is absent. The child shall also be deemed truant for any absence determined by the principal to be unexcused based upon the State Department of Education's current School Attendance Manual. Seven unexcused absences within a school year constitute a student being truant for the purpose of filing a petition with the Court. The Interagency Committee on Youth Truancy Task Force recommendations known as the Early Warning Truancy Prevention Program timeline for reporting truancy shall define the truancy status of any student as follows: