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Truancy: Attendance and the Law

Two areas of state law – one dealing with compulsory attendance, the other with attendance for course credit- are of special interest to parents and students.


Compulsory Attendance

  1. The state mandates children aged six to 17, unless exempt, to attend school and upon enrollment in any given school year, the state also requires students under the age of 6 to attend school so once a parent chooses to enroll their child in Pre-K or Kindergarten, attendance is mandatory! 
  2. The law requires students to be present each and every school day for the entire period of instruction. The exceptions to this requirement are limited. 
  3. If a child must miss school an acceptable written excuse note must be submitted within three days of the student’s return to school following any whole or partial day absence. Family vacations and non-school sports cannot be excused. 
  4. Parents and guardians are encouraged to schedule doctor and dentist appointments outside of school hours or on school vacation days, but if a student must miss school for a health care appointment the student is required to attend school before and/or after the appointment for a health absence to be granted. Health absences are treated as a day of attendance. If the student misses the entire day, the absence may be excused provided a written excuse note or doctor’s statement is submitted within three days of returning to school. 
  5. Students requiring vaccinations and ineligible to attend school because of missing shots may accumulate unexcused absences. Parents are encouraged to work with the school nurse to ensure that vaccinations are current prior to the beginning of the new school year. 
  6. Unexcused days or part of days may result in truancy actions. 
  7. Students 18 years and older with five or more unexcused days per semester may be withdrawn from school for the remainder of the school year.


Attendance for Course Credit

A student may be considered absent in any of the following circumstances.

  1. To receive credit in a class when the student has a passing grade, a student must attend at least 90% of the days the class is offered. A student missing more than 90%, but less than 25% will be denied credit unless the student is placed under a principal’s plan for redeeming credit. A student missing 25% or more of any class will be denied credit unless the campus attendance committee finds special circumstances exist. Note that excused, unexcused and out of school suspension absences count for this requirement. In all cases, the student must be passing the class to be eligible to regain credit. 
  2. It’s important for parents to keep in mind that even when the absences of their children have been excused, they WILL BE COUNTED in determining if the child gets credit for a specific class or not.
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