Attendance & Truancy
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 a student’s final grade or course credit—are of special interest to students and parents. They are discussed below.
Students enrolled in prekindergarten or kindergarten are required to attend school and are subject to the compulsory attendance requirements as long as they remain enrolled.
State law requires that a student between the ages of 6 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.
A student will be required to attend any assigned accelerated instruction program, which may occur before or after school or during the summer, if the student does not meet the passing standards on an applicable subject area state assessment.
A student who voluntarily attends or enrolls after his or her 19th birthday is required to attend each school day until the end of the school year. If a student 19 or older has more than five undocumented absences in a semester the district may revoke the student’s enrollment. The student’s presence on school property thereafter would be unauthorized and may be considered trespassing. [See policy FEA.] 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 are found in the MISD Student Handbook P. 17 and P. 18.
The truancy prevention facilitators for the district are Dr. Ben King and Suzy McKinney. If you have any questions about your student and the effect of his or her absences from school, please contact the facilitator or your child’s campus administrator. A court of law may also impose penalties against a student’s parents if a school-aged student is deliberately not attending school. A complaint against the parent may be filed in court if the student is absent from school without appropriate documentation on ten or more days or parts of days within a six- month period in the same school year. If a student age 12 through age 18 incurs undocumented absences on ten or more days or parts of days within a six-month period in the same year, the district, in most circumstances, will refer the student to truancy court. [See policy FEA (LEGAL).]
Attendance for Credit or Final Grade (K-12th Grade)
To receive credit or a final grade in a class, a student must attend at least 90 percent of the days the class is offered. A student who attends at least 75 percent but fewer than 90 percent of the days the class is offered may receive credit or a final grade for the class if he or she completes a plan, approved by the principal that allows the student to fulfill the instructional requirements for the class. If a student is involved in a criminal or juvenile court proceeding, the approval of the judge presiding over the case will be required before the student receives credit or a final grade for the class.
If a student attends less than 75 percent of the days a class is offered or has not completed the plan approved by the principal, then the student will be referred to the attendance review committee to determine whether there are extenuating circumstances for the absences and how the student can regain or lose credit because of absences. (See policy FEC.)
With the exception of absences due to serious or life-threatening illness or related treatment, all absences whether documented or undocumented must be considered in determining whether a student has attended the required percentage of days. In determining whether there were extenuating circumstances for the absences, the attendance committee will use the following guidelines that are located in the MISD Student Handbook on P. 20 and P. 21
Documentation after an Absence
When a student is absent from school, the student must bring a note signed by the parent that describes the reason for the absence. Parent notes will not be accepted after 5 days from when the absence occurred. A note signed by the student, even with the parent’s permission, will not be accepted unless the student is age 18 or older or is an emancipated minor under state law. A phone call from the parent may be accepted, but the district reserves the right to require a written note. One parent note can be used to document multiple days of absences. However, parent notes will not be accepted by campus administration to document more than 5 school absences per semester, regardless of whether the absences are consecutive or separate.
The campus will document in its attendance records for the student whether the absence is documented or undocumented.
Note: Unless the absence is for a statutorily allowed reason under compulsory attendance laws, the district is not required to accept parent notes explaining the absence.
Doctor’s Note after an Absence for Illness
Within 5 days of returning 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. Otherwise, the student’s absence may be considered undocumented and, if so, would be considered to be in violation of compulsory attendance laws.
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 in order to determine whether the absence or absences will be documented.