Q: This child has been in court system for a year due to pot use and several crimes against property. He fathered one child and supposedly girl friend is pregnant with 2nd. He is living with mom and 3 younger siblings. She feels he is treating her and them poorly and before he creates more havoc, she could like to see him on his own. He had a job paying $400 a week and was living with girlfriend and her parents. He is “off paper” in October. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: So, apparently, this child was adjudicated delinquent and his juvenile probation case is about to close. So, on a scale from 1 to 10 he is not that bad if he successfully competed probation, but he is disruptive and abusive at home. You can try counseling. If that doesn’t work you may want to look toward filing a dependency complaint in Juvenile Court. If he is disruptive to your home to the extent he is not welcome there, he might be using drugs and is not attending school, a court may adjudicate him to be a dependent child. If this happens, the court will have jurisdiction over him and force him to comply. To inquire about filing a dependency action, you can consult with CYF or call the police. You can also consult with a lawyer who handles juvenile law.
Q: I recently started probation and I’ve been failing my classes for a while now and making no significant progress. Parents said if I don’t improve my grades they’ll sign me out and I’ll have to get a job. So, if they were to sign me out would it be a violation? And would getting a job soon after being signed out make it any better or not a violation if it is?
A: If staying in school is a condition of your probation, then yes. If you leave school, it would be a violation of your judges’ probation conditions. Education in PA is compulsory until age 17. This means you must stay in school until age 17. At age 17 you can sign yourself out. Until then, you cannot miss school unless you have a valid excuse, such as a note from your doctor. If you miss school without an excuse, your parents can be cited for truancy, summoned to the District Justice and fined. If you are failing, you may want to talk to your counselor about an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or an alternative school or cyber school. Stay in school and get your diploma.
Q: Can I be charged with a truancy violation in Pennsylvania if I’m 18 years of age? I’m 18, and I got a letter in the mail that because I have 7 unexcused absences they have notified the district and legal action may be taken. Does this truly apply to me being 18 years old.
A: I shouldn’t. Pennsylvania’s compulsory attendance law only applies to minors up to seventeen. The school is doing their job in reporting you, but I would be very surprised if it went any farther than that. Of course, if charges are brought, you should retain counsel immediately. They can even charge your parents for your truancy. If the facts are as you say they are, this should be an easy case to get dismissed. After age 17 you can sign yourself out of school. The school likely is pushing you to make up your mind as to whether you want to be a student or not. You may have to sign yourself out, which is maybe what they want.