Regular school attendance is essential for a student to make the most of his or her education—to benefit from teacher-led and school activities, to build each day’s learning on the previous day’s, and to grow as an individual. Absences from class may result in serious disruption of a student’s mastery of the instructional materials; therefore, the student and parent should make every effort to avoid unnecessary absences. Two state laws, one dealing with compulsory attendance, the other with attendance for course credit, are of special interest to students and parents.
What are the laws governing attendance?
Compulsory Attendance State law requires that a student between the ages of six and 19 attend school, as well as any applicable accelerated instruction program, extended year program, or tutorial session, unless the student is otherwise excused from attendance or legally exempt. Students enrolled in prekindergarten or kindergarten are required to attend school. Exemptions to Compulsory Attendance State law allows exemptions to the compulsory attendance requirements for several types of absences if the student makes up all work.
These include the following activities and events:
Religious holy days (requires proper documentation from church leader);
Required court appearances;
Activities related to obtaining United States citizenship;
Service as an election clerk; and
Documented health-care appointments, including absences for recognized services for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, if the student is absent only a portion of the school day. A note from the health-care provider must be submitted within 3 days of the student’s return to campus.
What absences can be excused?
Absences will be classified as “excused” or “unexcused”. Absences that are documented and verified for the following reasons will be classified as excused:
Personal illness (with a doctor’s or parent note)
Serious illness or death in the immediate family
Medical or dental appointments (with a doctor’s note)
Weather or road conditions making travel dangerous
Extenuating circumstances approved by the Principal (5 day maximum per school year)
Absences for reasons other than those listed above will be considered unexcused.
What do I do if my child has to be absent due to family emergency, illness,etc.?
When sickness or other obligation necessitates an absence, a note signed by the parent/guardian explaining the reason for the absence is required the day the student returns to school. If a student fails to submit a note, the absence will be considered unexcused.
The student will be allowed three (3) days to submit a written note excusing an absence. Visit your campus website for instructions and contact information for your attendance/data clerk.
It is very important to send a note because the absence will be unexcused if a parent/guardian fails to provide a note within the specified time. Unexcused absences are what triggers the warning letters regarding violation of truancy laws and can lead to filing of failure to attend school charges. Upon return to school, a student absent for more than 5 consecutive days because of a personal illness must bring a statement from a doctor or health clinic verifying the illness or condition that caused the student’s extended absence from school. Should the student develop a questionable pattern of absences, the principal or attendance committee may require a statement from a doctor or health clinic verifying the illness or condition that caused the student’s absence from school. [See policy FEC(LOCAL).]
How many absences are acceptable?
A student is to be in attendance for a minimum of 90% of the school year. A high school student must be in attendance for at least 90% of the days that classes are offered in order to receive credit for the course. Schools must send a Warning Letter when a student has three (3) or more unexcused absences in a four week period. Schools can request Court Action when a student has ten (10) or more unexcused absences in a six-month period within the same school year. Court Action can only be requested on a parent or guardian after the warning letter has been sent.