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Attendance

Regular and punctual school attendance is essential for success in school.  The District recognizes that parents/guardians of children who attend our schools have special rights as well as responsibilities, one of which is to ensure that their children attend school regularly, in accordance with state law.  Students are expected to be in school every day that school is in session, including half days. They are also expected to be on time for school.

A complete explanation of the District’s attendance policies and procedures, including what types of absences are excused, read below.


Student Attendance (School Committee Policy JH)

In Barnstable Public Schools attendance matters.  Regular and punctual school attendance is essential for success in school.  The District recognizes that parents/guardians of children who attend our schools have special rights as well as responsibilities, one of which is to ensure that their children attend school regularly, in accordance with state law.  Students are expected to be in school every day that school is in session, including half days. They are also expected to be on time for school.

Definitions

School Day- A school day shall be equal to half of the school time for that day. 

Truancy- Being absent from school without permission from a parent/guardian or for a circumstance that do not constitute an excused absence.

Chronic Absenteeism- Being absent from school for 10% or more of the available student attendance days, regardless of reason. Excused AND unexcused absences count towards a student’s chronic absenteeism rate.

Excused Absence- An absence from school that will be marked as excused, as determined by the Principal or his/her designee. Excused absences are limited to the following circumstances:

  • personal illness;
  • medical appointments that cannot be made outside of school hours; 
  • death of a family member;
  • serious illness of a family; 
  • weather so inclement as to endanger the health of the child; 
  • observance of major religious holidays; 
  • legal obligations requiring personal appearance;
  • verified post-high school visits, such as college visits (two days during a student’s junior year and three days during a student’s senior year); and 
  • other exceptional reasons with approval of the Principal or designee.

The provision of a written explanation will not automatically result in the absence being documented as excused.  Excused absences are limited to the categories set forth above.  

Unexcused Absence- An absence for which no written verification or documentation is provided (i.e. a “no call-no show” absence) or that occurs for a reason that cannot be considered an excused absence. 

Excused and Unexcused Absences

The District recognizes that sometimes absences are unavoidable.  On occasion, parents/guardians may temporarily excuse their children from school attendance under limited circumstances.

The Principal or his/her designee has the authority to determine whether a student’s absence from school is documented as excused.  Accordingly, parents/guardians will provide a written explanation for the absence or tardiness of a child. The provision of a written explanation will not automatically result in the absence being documented as excused.  Excused absences are limited to the categories set forth above. Family vacations will not be excused for attendance purposes and will constitute an unexcused absence, as will travel for non-school sponsored sports, activities and other programs.

In instances of chronic or irregular absence reportedly due to illness, the Principal or his/her designee may request a physician's statement certifying such absences to be justified.  Written documentation from an appropriately licensed medical professional or healthcare provider is required for all absences that are three (3) or more consecutive days.  

The parent/guardian of any student who will have a prolonged absences (more than two weeks) due to an illness or injury must notify the school to make necessary arrangements for homebound instruction.

Student Absence Notification Program

In the event the parent/guardian has not informed the school of the student’s absence, the Principal or his/her designee will notify the parent/guardian of the absence on a daily basis.

The Principal or his/her designee will implement appropriate interventions for reducing chronic absenteeism, as set forth in District guidance documents. In addition, the parties may seek input from other relevant school staff and/or officials from relevant public safety, health and human service, housing, and nonprofit agencies.

School officials may contact law enforcement officials, juvenile court authorities or social service agencies at any time if they feel that students are truant or that parents/guardians are not making reasonable efforts to ensure their child’s regular school attendance.

The School Committee directs the Superintendent or his/her designee to establish procedures to monitor student attendance, truancy and chronic absenteeism and take all appropriate measures, including court intervention, to encourage regular student attendance.

Academic Impact of Absenteeism

A student who is absent shall be permitted to complete any course work that is missed during the absence, including in-class assignments, homework, quizzes, exams and other assignments.  Schools may set expectations regarding the timeliness of submission of the missed coursework. A student’s grade cannot be negatively impacted on the basis of attendance alone. Work completion and timely submission, class participation (which is not possible when a student is not in class) and mastery of content may all impact a student’s grade.

Adult Students

After the end of the quarter in which a student turns 18 years of age, an 18-year-old student may excuse himself or herself from school attendance pursuant to this policy.

Dropout Prevention

No student who is sixteen (16) years old or older and who has not graduated from high school shall be considered permanently removed from school unless the Principal or his/her designee has sent notice to a student and that student's parent/guardian, who has been absent from school for ten (10) consecutive days of unexcused absence.  The notice shall be sent within five (5) days of the tenth consecutive day of absence and shall offer at least 2 dates and times within the next ten (10) days for an exit interview with the Superintendent or designee, the student, and the student's parent/guardian. The notice shall be in both English and the primary language of the home, if applicable.  The notice shall include contact information for scheduling the exit interview and shall indicate the parties shall reach an agreement on the date/time of the interview within the ten (10) day timeframe. The timeframe may be extended at the request of the parent/guardian and no extension shall exceed 14 days.

The Superintendent or his/her designee may proceed with any interview without a parent/guardian present, provided the Superintendent has documented a good faith effort to include the parent/guardian.

The Superintendent or designee shall convene a team of school staff to participate in the exit interview and shall provide information to the student and, if applicable, the student's parent/guardian on the detrimental effects of early withdrawal from school and the alternative education programs and services available to the student. 

Withdrawal 

Parents/guardians should follow the District’s withdrawal process. The District will verify withdrawals with the parent/guardian. 

If the school is provided information that the student will be out of the country for an extended period of time during the school year, and the parent/guardian does not formally withdraw the student, the student should remain enrolled and marked absent (unexcused). 

SOURCE: Adapted, in part, from MASC recommended policies, October 2014.

LEGAL REFS.:  M.G.L. 76:1; 76:1B; 76:16; 76:18; 76:20