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Punctuation and Skipping Absences: West Virginia’s Professional Charter School Board revises absence procedures | News, Sports, Jobs

Punctuation and Skipping Absences: West Virginia’s Professional Charter School Board revises absence procedures | News, Sports, Jobs


(Capitol Notes – Graphic Illustration/MetroCreative)

CHARLESTON — With all eyes on the relationship between home-schooled students, county school systems and state mandatory attendance requirements, the board that governs public charter schools in West Virginia received a briefing on how charter schools address absenteeism issues. At its regular virtual monthly meeting Wednesday morning, the Professional Charter School Board received a briefing on how the state’s four traditional public charter schools and two statewide virtual public charter schools track and report unexcused absences to county school systems. James Paul, executive director of the Professional Charter School Board, explained that the PCSB’s bylaws require all public charter schools to have policies in place in their charters regarding unexcused absences that comply with state law and mandatory school attendance laws. Three consecutive unexcused absences requires the public charter school to engage in meaningful communication with the student and family and identify steps to help the student get back into compliance. Five unexcused absences trigger another meeting between the public charter school and the family. Once the student has completed 10 unexcused absences, the public school is required to contact the county school system and/or the district absence director to arrange a home visit or initiate further legal action.
“The district board of education’s director of attendance must be notified of this student’s address so that the district board of education can arrange a home visit or take such other action as the director of attendance deems appropriate to ensure that there is someone observing the student.” Paul said. The two virtual public charter schools across the state have policies for disenrollment when students do not attend required instructional activities. If a student is removed from their enrollment, the statewide virtual charter schools are required to contact the county school system where the student resides.
“I also met with leaders of virtual charter schools to make sure they had deregistration policies and that they were committed to not just creating policies, but ensuring that no child was missed.” said Paul. “If a student leaves a private school, we expect the private school to do everything it can to help that child find a place in the next educational option that works for them.”
The review follows the recent review of the April death of Kyneddi Miller, a 14-year-old who was removed from a Boone County public school in 2021. Miller was found nearly skeletal by Boone County officials. Her mother and a pair of grandparents are facing charges in her death. Under state law, home-schooled children are exempt from mandatory school attendance laws as long as the parent and/or guardian submits the results of the child’s third-, fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grade academic evaluations to the district superintendent by June 30 of the year the evaluation is conducted. Parents who fail to submit required evaluations could be found in violation of the mandatory school attendance law and face criminal penalties for absenteeism. Miller’s family did not report the eighth-grade evaluation to Boone County Schools, and the district never contacted the family, according to an internal investigation. State law leaves jurisdiction over mandatory school attendance laws to individual districts. According to the state Department of Education, the state code does not specify specific requirements or permissions for district attendance directors or school principals for homeschooling families who do not submit required evaluations. State leaders and lawmakers are considering tightening the state code to require county school systems to follow up when evaluations are not submitted. Paul said public charter schools face a similar problem as county school systems when it comes to communication, but he said the state Department of Education is working to improve communication and relationships between public charter schools and the county school systems where those charter schools are located.
“Communication between the regulations and participation managers is really important” said Paul. “I want to share with the board that I think this is a process that can improve communication on both sides. I want to note that communication has gotten better over time, but I have been told by organization leaders that when they are contacted about a deregistration, they are often not accepted by their engagement managers.”
PCSB was also notified Wednesday that four public charter schools have applied for subgrants made possible through the U.S. Department of Education’s Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools program. PCSB was awarded $12.2 million over five years through the program last year. A peer review group will review the subgrant applications Friday through Aug. 2. PCSB will vote on the applications at its Aug. 8 meeting. PCSB is also seeking vendors to provide technical assistance to public charter school boards and to help PCSB solicit new applications for public charter schools.
“We’re excited for this to continue because it’s always great to get help bringing new charter schools to the state.” PCSB Associate Director Dusty Hurley said. Physical public charter schools include Eastern Panhandle Preparatory Academy in Kearneysville, West Virginia Academy in Morgantown, Workforce Initiative (WIN) Academy in South Charleston and Clarksburg Classical Academy. MECCA Business Learning Institute in Charles Town will launch this fall. Virtual public charter schools statewide include Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia and West Virginia Virtual Academy.
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at [email protected].



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