TORRINGTON (WNE) – Both houses have passed a bill which will affect how absenteeism and truancy is defined in schools. 

SF 0031 was one of 19 bills as of Friday which have been signed by the house speaker and senate president. 

During the committee’s first meeting of the budget session, Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, said the law was lacking since the statute does not delineate who is at fault for the truancy. The law previously put all the blame on the parents regardless of the type of absenteeism or truancy. 

The new definition of habitual truancy in the bill is, “any child who disobeys reasonable and lawful demands of the child’s parent, guardian, custodian or other proper authority to attend school.” 

Willful absenteeism is defined as exceeding the limit of unexcused absences and it is the parent/guardian’s fault. The bill also includes conforming amendments to match federal law and to clarify punishments and consequences. 

Parents and guardians at fault could face a fine between $5-$25 or up to 10 days in prison. 

HB 0031 received one amendment during second reading in the house by Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, which added a possible punishment of not more than 10 days of community service. 

“Oftentimes I think this is something that’s overlooked as a potential corrective measure for misbehavior,” Hicks said. 

The bill unanimously passed the senate on third reading; it remained the same throughout the house but narrowly passed with a 31-28 vote. 

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