Student Attendance Policy, An Overview

The superintendent is responsible for enforcing school attendance of all children and youth subject to the compulsory school age in the school district and supporting enforcement of school attendance by local law enforcement agencies. The responsibility includes recommending policies and procedures to the district school board that require schools to respond in a timely manner to every unexcused absence, and every absence for which the reason is unknown, of students enrolled in the schools. The superintendent’s attendance procedures outline the responsibilities of the various personnel within the school system.

 

(1) School attendance is the responsibility of the student and parent.

 

(2) Students shall begin each new school year with zero absences.

 

(3) All school personnel shall encourage regular attendance.

 

(4) Schools shall publish and distribute their attendance procedures to students and parents.

 

(5) On a daily basis, student absences will be recorded as unexcused until an acceptable excuse has been provided by the parent or guardian indicating the reason for the student’s absence. The principal has the ultimate authority to decide whether an absence shall be excused.

 

(6) If a student is repeatedly absent from school due to illness, the school is authorized to require the parent or guardian to provide a written physician’s statement for each subsequent absence to be considered excused.

 

(7) Absences shall be excused for:

(a) illness, injury or other insurmountable condition

(b) illness or death of a member of the student’s immediate family

(c) recognized (or established) religious holidays and/or religious instruction

(d) medical appointments

(e) participation in an approved activity or class of instruction held at another site

(f) prearranged absences of educational value with the principal’s prior approval

(g) head lice infestation (up to four (4) days during the school year)

(h) catastrophic disasters that significantly impact the life of the student (e.g. loss of residence from natural disaster).

 

(8) Students shall be given a reasonable amount of time to make up any work assignments, which were missed during an excused absence. At least one day shall be allowed for each day of missed work.

 

(9) A student who is not in his/her first assigned class at the beginning of each school day shall be considered tardy.

 

(10) In cases of truancy and habitual truancy that are referred for child study team action, tardies may be recognized and calculated in the truancy instances. For truancy purposes in child study team documentation that may also be used for court action, five tardies to school will equal one unexcused absence. The authority to apply accumulated tardies as unexcused absences is given to the board in statute s.1003.02 (1)(b), F.S. District policy states that the principal has the authority to determine whether an absence is excused.

 

(11) Schools may not exempt students from examinations, papers, or other academic performance requirements to encourage student attendance.

 

(12) Report cards shall reflect the academic status, attendance and number of daily tardies for each student. These will be hand-delivered to the parent or guardian by the student.

 

(13) A student between the ages of 6 and 18 who is absent from school without having an excused absence, with or without the knowledge and/or consent of the parent or guardian, will be considered truant.

 

(14) A student between the ages of 6 and 18 who has 10 or more unexcused absences within 90 calendar days, or an equivalent combination of unexcused absences and accumulated tardies as determined in the child study team action, will be considered a habitual truant. Days when a student is suspended from school are not included in the number of absences when determining habitual truancy. Students may make up work missed during a suspension within a time limit established by the school principal.

 

(15) Each school shall implement the following steps to enforce regular school attendance of the students enrolled in their school:

(a) Upon each unexcused absence, or absence for which the reason is unknown, the school principal or his or her designee shall contact the parent or guardian to determine the reason for the absence. If the absence is excused, as defined superintendent’s document, the school shall provide opportunities for the student to make up assigned work and not receive an academic penalty unless the work is not made up within a reasonable time.

(b) If a student has had at least five unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or 10 unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a 90-calendar-day period, or an equivalent combination of unexcused absences and accumulated tardies as determined in the child study team action, the student's primary teacher shall report to the school principal or his or her designee that the student may be exhibiting a pattern of nonattendance. The principal shall, unless there is clear evidence that the absences are not a pattern of nonattendance, refer the case to the school's child study team to determine if early patterns of truancy are developing. If the child study team finds that a pattern of nonattendance is developing, whether the absences are excused or not, a meeting with the parent must be scheduled to identify potential remedies.

(c) If an initial meeting does not resolve the problem, the child study team shall implement the following:

• Frequent attempts at communication between the teacher and the

family;

• Evaluation for alternative education programs;.

• Attendance contracts;.

(d) The child study team may, but is not required to, implement other

interventions, including referral to other agencies for family services or

recommendation for filing a truancy petition pursuant to s. 984.151.

(e) The child study team shall be diligent in facilitating intervention services and shall report the case to the superintendent only when all reasonable efforts to resolve the nonattendance behavior are exhausted.

(f) If the parent or guardian refuses to participate in the remedial strategies because he or she believes that those strategies are unnecessary or inappropriate, the parent or guardian may appeal to the school board. The school board may provide a hearing officer, and the hearing officer shall make a recommendation for final action to the board. If the board's final determination is that the strategies of the child study team are appropriate, and the parent or guardian still refuses to participate or cooperate, the superintendent may seek criminal prosecution for noncompliance with compulsory school attendance.

(g) If a child subject to compulsory school attendance will not comply with

attempts to enforce school attendance, the parent, guardian, or the superintendent or his or her designee shall refer the case to the case staffing committee and the superintendent or his or her designee may file a truancy petition pursuant to the procedures in s. 984.151.

(h) If the superintendent chooses not to file a truancy petition, the procedures for filing a Child-in Need-of Services (CINS) petition shall be commenced.

 

(16) The district shall implement the following steps to enforce regular school attendance of students of compulsory school age who are not enrolled:

(a) Under the direction of the superintendent, a designated school representative shall give written notice, in person or by return-receipt mail, to the parent or guardian, when no valid reason is found for a child's non-enrollment in school. The notice shall require enrollment or attendance within 3 days after the date of notice. If the notice and requirement are ignored, the designated school representative shall report the case to the superintendent, and may refer the case to the case staffing committee. The superintendent shall take such steps as are necessary to bring criminal prosecution against the parent, guardian, or other person having control.

(b) Subsequent to the activities described above, (subsection 1) the superintendent or his or her designee shall give written notice in person or by return-receipt mail to the parent or guardian that criminal prosecution is being sought for nonattendance. The superintendent may file a truancy petition, as defined in s. 984.03, following the procedures outlined in s. 984.151.

(17) A law enforcement officer may take a child into custody when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child is absent from school without authorization or is suspended or expelled and is not in the presence of his or her parent or legal guardian. The officer may take the child into custody and deliver the child to the appropriate “school system site”, including but not limited to, a center approved by the superintendent of schools for the purpose of counseling students and referring them back to the school system or an approved alternative to a suspension or expulsion program. If a student is suspended or expelled from school without assignment to an alternative school placement, the law shall deliver the child:

(a) to the parent or legal guardian

(b) to a location determined by the parent or guardian, or to the Alternative

Center for Truancy until the parent or guardian can be located.