Adoption Date: 9/25/2003
5000 - Students
5100 Attendance Policy
Vision for School Attendance
Attendance is a critical factor in school success for students. Consistent school attendance, academic success and school completion have a positive correlation. School attendance is both a right and a responsibility in New York State. Children have the right to attend school between the ages of 5 and 21, and New York State Education Law Section 3205 and 3210 mandates attendance between the ages of 6 and 18. Parents are expected to make sure that their children attend school on a regular basis.
Although accurate recordkeeping and analysis of data are critical, the ultimate success of the school attendance program is determined by the quality of the school culture. Positive school culture is a prerequisite for good attendance. School culture is the overall physical and psychological atmosphere in a school: the behaviors, attitudes and beliefs exhibited by all school staff, students, parents and community workers. Creating a positive school culture can have profound effects on student performance. Such a culture is accepting and inclusive with opportunities for all to learn.
Everyday interactions and activities in a school should encourage students to attend and should prevent school failure. Schools that exhibit the following factors are called protective schools:
- A positive physical and psychological environment.
- The presence of strong adult role models in students' lives
Respectful and nurturing interactions between adults and students.
A high level of student bonding to the school.
In a protective school, the physical and psychological atmosphere promotes healthy youth development. Bonding to school (being connected to the people and the place) is a major factor in determining success.
The goal of school attendance policies and programs is to encourage students to come to school ready to learn. Traditionally, there have been four purposes for attendance taking in schools:
- To know the whereabouts of every student for safety and other reasons.
- To determine the District's average daily attendance for State Aid reimbursement.
- To verify that individual students are complying with Education Law in relation to compulsory attendance.
- To identify individual and group attendance patterns in order to provide attendance improvement programs and services.
In order to meet the Regents goals of raising student achievement to higher levels and closing the gaps in student achievement, it is imperative that students regularly attend school to receive instruction.
In accordance with New York State Department of Education Regulations for School Attendance, each public school district shall adopt a comprehensive attendance policy that contains these nine (9) elements:
(i) a statement of the overall objectives to be accomplished;
(ii) a description of the specific strategies to be employed to accomplish these objectives;
(iii) a determination of which pupil absences, tardiness and early departures will be excused and which will not be excused and an illustrative list of excused and unexcused pupil absences and tardiness;
(iv) a description of the coding system used to identify the reason for a pupil's absence, tardiness or early departure recorded in the register of attendance;
(v) a description of the school district's policy regarding pupil attendance and a pupil's ability to receive course credit;
(vi) a description of the incentives to be employed to encourage pupil attendance and any disciplinary sanctions to be used to discourage unexcused pupil absences, tardiness and early departures;
(vii) a description of the notice to be provided to the parent(s) of, or person(s) in parental relation to, pupils who are absent, tardy or depart early without proper excuse;
(viii) a description of the process to develop specific intervention strategies to be employed by teachers and other school employees to address identified patterns of unexcused pupil absence, tardiness or early departure; and
(ix) identification of the person(s) designated in each school building who will be responsible for reviewing pupil attendance records and initiating appropriate action to address unexcused pupil absence, tardiness and early departure consistent with the comprehensive attendance policy.
1. Statement of Local Objectives
Success in the educational programs offered by the District is predicated upon the presence of the student, and requires continuity of instruction and classroom participation. The regular contact of students with one another in the classroom, and their participation in a well planned instructional activity under the supervision of a qualified, competent teacher is essential to this purpose. Unwarranted, unexcused absences have a highly adverse effect on the student as well as the entire educational program. Therefore, the School Superintendent, the Board of Education, the administrators and faculty urge all parents/persons in parental relation to make every effort for their child(ren) to be in attendance at school.
2. Description of Strategies to Meet this Objective
In order to ensure that all students attend school consistently, the District will maintain an adequate record of verifying the attendance of all children during instruction. The record of attendance will account to the parents/persons in parental relation of all children enrolled in the District, the whereabouts of such children throughout the day. In addition, pupil attendance recordkeeping will ensure sufficient student attendance at all scheduled periods of instruction, or other supervised study activities to permit such pupils to succeed at meeting the New York State Learning Standards.
3. A Determination of Which Pupil Absences, Tardiness and Early Departures are Excused and Which are Not
As previously stated, student attendance is essential for the absorption and retention of instructed material. This is so essential that the Compulsory Education Law requires the regular attendance of all children from 6 years old, until they reach their 18th birthday.
New York State has divided all student absences into two categories: Excused and Unexcused.
Examples of excused absences for not attending school are:
- personal illness,
- death in the family,
- school sponsored field trip,
- religious observance (Part 109.2 of the Commissioner's Regulations)
- visits to colleges with prior approval from guidance counselor,
- job shadowing with prior approval from the Career Center and verification from job site,
- required court appointments, and other excuses accepted by the Commissioner of Education.
Unexcused absences occur when the parent is aware of the student's whereabouts and the absence is not one of those approved by the State.
Examples of unexcused absences are:
- job interviews,
- personal errands,
- missed the bus,
- needed at home,
In addition, being truant is an unexcused absence. It is defined as an absence from class or school without the knowledge of the student's parents/persons in parental relation.
In grades K-6, the student's presence is required in the classroom at the start time for instruction for each specific building. Children arriving after that time will be considered tardy. At the secondary schools, the student's presence is required in the classroom at the start time for instruction for that specific period. Children arriving after that time will be considered tardy. In Kindergarten, attendance will be taken at the beginning of the AM and PM sessions; in grades 1-6 attendance will be taken at the start time for each building; and in grades 7-12, attendance will be taken at the beginning of each instructional period.
The classroom or homeroom teacher is responsible for taking attendance. The individual school starting/ending times can be found in the District calendar.
All student absences, tardiness, and early departures must be accounted for, therefore, it is the parent's, or person's in parental relation, responsibility to notify the school nurse within at least 24 hours of the absence, tardiness and/or early departure. In addition, it is the responsibility of the parent, or person in parental relation, to provide a written excuse upon the student's return to school.
4. A Description of the Coding System for Absences
The record of each pupil's presence, absence, tardiness and early departure will be maintained by each school in a register of attendance. For this purpose the District has implemented the Schooltool program.
The information maintained in Schooltool includes at least the following information for each pupil:
b) date of birth
c) full names of parents or persons in parental relation
d) address where the pupil resides
e) phone number(s) where the parents or persons in parental relation may be contacted
f) date of pupil's enrollment
g) a record of the pupil's attendance on each day of scheduled instruction
The pupil's absence will be recorded using the indicators listed on the chart below.
Reason Indicator Definition
Unverified "UNV" occurs when a student is absent and we don't know, as yet, the reason for the absence.
Truant "TRU" occurs when a student is absent from school without the knowledge and consent of his parent, or person in parental relation, for other than excused reasons.
In-School Suspension "ISS" occurs when the student is removed from class for disciplinary reasons and attends school in the ISS room.
Out of School Suspension "OSS" occurs when the student is removed from class for disciplinary reasons and is not allowed to return for a specific amount of time. The child receiving an OSS may receive tutoring during this time.
Home Tutor "HMT" occurs when a student cannot receive instruction in school. A student may be provided the services of a home tutor due to a lengthy illness or while waiting for a special education placement.
Unexcused Absence "UEX" occurs when the parent is aware of the student's whereabouts and the absence is not one of those approved by the State. Examples of an unexcused absence are: vacations, trips, job interviews, hunting, personal errands, missed the bus, overslept, needed at home and babysitting.
Excused Absence "EXC" occurs when a student is not in attendance due to: personal illness, death in the family, school sponsored field trip, quarantine, religious observance, visits to colleges with prior approval from guidance counselor, job shadowing with prior approval from the Career Center and verification from job site, required court appointments, and other excuses accepted by the Commissioner of Education.
School Activity "SAC" occurs when a student is absent from class because s/he is participating in a District/School approved educational activity.
Unexcused Tardy "UXT" occurs when the parent is aware of the student's whereabouts and the reason for being late is not one approved by the State. Student is late without a valid excuse.
Excused Tardy "EXT" occurs when the student has a valid reason/excuse for being late.
Blue Pass "BP" is issued to a student who enters a class late or for early dismissal. A blue pass is issued by the school nurse/designee.
Field Trip "FDT" occurs when the student is participating in an approved District/School activity that is related to the curriculum of study.
Retention of Records
Part 188.20 of the Commissioner's Regulations retention and preservation of records requires Local Educational Agencies (LEA) to:
1. Have a plan, procedures, and storage facilities to insure electronic records are maintained and stored properly for as long as required.
2. Record Retention and Disposition Schedule (ED-1) requires 6 year retention period for attendance register data either electronic format or booklet form.
3. Records created prior to 1928 must be kept permanently.
Part 188.20 of the Commissioner's Regulations specifically requires the district to prepare and store back-up copies of electronic records in a secure off site facility in order to safeguard against loss.
Backup can be accomplished electronically with hard (paper) copy or both.
5. A Description of School Policy Regarding Attendance and Course Credit
The Board of Education recognizes an important relationship between class attendance and student performance. Therefore, in order for a pupil to receive course credit, a minimum standard of attendance has been established. However, where a student earns a passing grade, credit will not be denied for the course.
Any student absent from a class more than 20% of the time or 18 days for a full year course, for any reason, excused or unexcused, may not receive credit. The student may not receive credit because, for example, he/she did not learn the material taught in the missed classes, did not complete missed homework assignments, failed test, or quizzes, or did not complete projects.
For a half-year course the same policy applies. The ninth absence in a half year course may result in a loss of credit, because, for example, the student did not learn the material missed when he/she was absent, did not complete missed homework assignments, failed quizzes or tests, or did not complete projects.
Those students, who have excessive absences from school or class, will be given the opportunity to make up a test or other missed work and/or to turn in a late assignment for inclusion in the final grade. Make up opportunities must be completed by a date specified by the child's teacher for the class in question.
If the student wishes to remain in the class, he/she will be allowed the opportunity to make up the classes and work missed at the discretion the Principal/designee. To ensure due process, the implementation of this general attendance policy will be in accordance with rules and regulations as developed by the administration. Further, the District shall publicize and disseminate this policy in order to ensure faculty, student and parental awareness.
Attendance at school sponsored events, where the instruction is substantially equivalent to that of the class, which was missed, shall be counted as the equivalent of regular attendance in class.
Transfers and students re-enrolling after having dropped out will be expected to attend 80 percent of the scheduled class meetings during their time of enrollment. The procedure followed will be prorated according to the possible number of class meetings.
6. A Description of Incentives/Sanctions to be Used
Each school in the District has developed various incentives for consistent student attendance, as well as, sanctions to be implemented for absences.
Incentives that encourage attendance may include:
- End of the year recognition at the awards assembly,
- Participation in extracurricular activities,
- Receiving donated gifts,
- Lunch with the teacher/principal,
- Recognition by the Superintendent, or
- A letter to parents.
- Issuance of a student's work permit as defined under section 3215-a of Education Law
- Issuance of a certificate of satisfactory academic standing for 16 or 17 year olds to work past 10:00 pm.
Sanctions that may be implemented to discourage unexcused absences, tardiness, and early departure may include:
- A warning from the classroom teacher,
- Referral to the school office,
- Administrative intervention with parent involvement,
- Denying participation in extracurricular activities or sports,
- In-school suspension,
- Failure to receive course credit,
- Restriction of driving privileges,
- Referred to the School Resource Officer (SRO)
- Revocation of a student's work permit as defined under section 3215-a of Education Law
- Withdrawal of a certificate of satisfactory academic standing for 16 or 17 year olds to work past 10:00 pm.
- Filing of a Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) petition or services (Family Court Act, Section 712A, Section 732), or
- Referral to Child Protective Services for educational neglect (Social Services Law Section 413)
7. A Description of Notification of Parents of, or Persons in Parental Relation to,
The school administration in the District will notify a pupil's parents, or persons in parental relation, of absenteeism, tardy, or early departures without proper excuse. The notification process will occur initially through the nurse's office in each building. If corrective action does not occur, the situation will be referred to the building administrator. The building administrator may request a conference with the parent and/or communicate in writing the District's concerns for the pupil's lack of attendance.
8. A Description of the Development Process for Intervention Strategies
In each school in the District there exists an Instructional Support Team (IST) that meets regularly to discuss teacher and staff concerns about their pupils. The IST may include some, or all, of the following staff members
- IST Chairperson (Required)
- Building Principal/Assistant Principal
- Social Worker
- School Psychologist
- School Counselor
- Substance Abuse Prevention/Intervention Coordinator
- Support staff
- Support teachers
- School Nurse
A student who has been identified as having a pattern of unexcused absences, tardiness or early departure will be discussed at the IST. The members of the IST will develop a plan of action for the purpose of improving the pupil's attendance.
Intervention strategies to improve school attendance may include:
- Following the absence pattern closely;
- Assessing parental involvement;
- Ruling out school problems;
- Working with the principal for administrative action;
- Involving the school physician;
- Involving the student's pediatrician with the consent of the parents of, persons in parental relation to, the child;
- Contacting the child's psychiatrist for mental health issues;
- Educating parents;
- Coaching parents of young children how to separate from them;
- Providing social support groups for the anxious child;
- Collaboratively working with the Department of Social Services; and/or
- Referring parents to other local service agencies.
9. Identification of the Person to Review Attendance Records and to Initiate Action
Commencing with the 2002-2003 school year, the principal in each building will be responsible for reviewing pupil attendance records and initiating appropriate action to address unexcused pupil absence, tardiness and early dismissal.