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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 18: Notice to parent or guardian and meeting with school committee prerequisite to student permanently leaving school; annual report; application of section

Section 18. No student who has not graduated from high school shall be considered to have permanently left public school unless an administrator of the school which the student last attended has sent notice within a period of 5 days from the student's tenth consecutive absence to the student and the parent or guardian of that student in both the primary language of the parent or guardian, to the extent practicable, and English. The notice shall initially offer at least 2 dates and times for an exit interview between the superintendent, or a designee, and the student and the parent or guardian of the student to occur prior to the student permanently leaving school and shall include contact information for scheduling the exit interview. The notice shall indicate that the parties shall agree upon a date and time for the exit interview, and that interview shall occur within 10 days after the sending of the notice. The time for the exit interview may be extended at the request of the parent or guardian and no extension shall be for longer than 14 days. The superintendent, or a designee, may proceed with any such interview without a parent or guardian if the superintendent, or a designee, makes a good faith effort to include the parent or guardian. The exit interview shall be for the purpose of discussing the reasons for the student permanently leaving school and to consider alternative education or other placements.

The superintendent or a designee shall convene a team of school personnel, such as the principal, guidance counselor, teachers, attendance officer and other relevant school staff, to participate in the exit interview with the student and the parent or guardian of the student. During the exit interview, the student shall be given information about the detrimental effects of early withdrawal from school, the benefits of earning a high school diploma and the alternative education programs and services available to the student.

The department of elementary and secondary education shall: (i) publish a model protocol for conducting exit interviews with students; and (ii) compile and maintain a list of research and information relative to the consequences of dropping out, the benefits of earning a high school diploma and a list of alternative education resources and programs available to the student, in addition to those that the district may provide, that schools shall present at the exit interview.

The superintendent of every city, town or regional school district shall annually report to the department of education the number of students sixteen years of age or older who have permanently left school, the reasons for such leaving and any alternative educational or other placement which each such student has taken.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to a student who has completed the regular course of education, or apply to a student whose absences have been excused, nor shall this section be construed to permanently exclude a student who wishes to resume his education.