Why adopt a revised attendance regulation?

School systems across the country realize the importance of regular school attendance, and the need for early interventions and student accountability to promote regular school attendance.  The No Child Left Behind Act and the Maryland School Performance Program view school attendance as a strong indicator of overall school performance.  Successful students attend school faithfully and high performing schools have high attendance rates.
The St. Mary’s County Public School System has shown significant improvement in performance for which we are proud.  Every effort is being made to continue to improve classroom instruction for all students, to challenge all students with rigorous expectations, and to support students with diverse needs.  When students are not in class, they miss important information and instruction.  Quality education requires regular and continuous instruction.  For our students to experience continued improvement, we need to have all students present and punctual.  Regular attendance benefits the student, the class, the school, the school system, and the community.
 In partnership with our parents and community, attendance will continue to be closely monitored to promote regular, consistent attendance for every student.
 
What is the revised attendance regulation?
The revised attendance regulation provides early intervention for students who demonstrate inconsistent attendance in elementary and middle school and encourages regular school and class attendance in high school.  Students with poor attendance in elementary and middle school will be referred to the Pupil Services Team to determine if the students should be retained in order to gain the necessary skills.  Unlawful (unexcused) absences in high school will directly affect a student’s grades and a student’s ability to participate in summer school.  Unlawful (unexcused) absences may also result in failing grades and /or retention.
 
What do parents need to know? 
 STUDENTS  ARE  EXPECTED  TO  ATTEND  SCHOOL  REGULARLY.
 ATTENDING  SCHOOL  EVERY  DAY  IS  ONE  OF  THE  MOST  POWERFUL  TOOLS  FOR  SCHOOL  SUCCESS.
 STUDENTS  NEED  PARENTAL  SUPPORT  TO  HELP  THEM  DEVELOP  THE  HABIT  OF  CONSISTENT  SCHOOL  ATTENDANCE.
 
How will students be held accountable? 
 Student attendance will be closely monitored.  Absences will be listed as either Lawful (excused) or Unlawful (unexcused) depending on the reason for the absence. 
 ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS
 Because regular attendance is vital to academic success, school staff will contact parents by phone, letter, e-mail, and home visits to assist in encouraging regular, consistent student attendance.  Students with 25 unlawful absences in a school year will be referred to the Pupil Services Team.  Retention will be considered for the following year to ensure that the student has had an appropriate opportunity to learn and master grade level skills.
 
What is a lawful (excused) absence?
Death in the immediate family
Student illness, including a doctor’s appointment (a physician’s note may be required if the absence is extensive)
Court summons
Hazardous weather conditions
Work (if the student’s work is approved or sponsored by the school)
Observance of a religious holiday
State of emergency
Suspension
Lack of authorized transportation
Other emergencies or circumstances – in judgment of the principal
 
What is an unlawful (unexcused) absence?
 Absences for any reason other than those listed as lawful.  Please remember absences due to a family vacation are unlawful.  Exceptional circumstances may be reviewed by the principal or designee.
 
How does a parent report their child’s absence to the school?
Parents/Guardians of the student must provide a written reason for the absence on the day the student returns to school.   If a note is not received by the school within three (3) days, the absence will be coded as unlawful or unexcused.  Only absences due to lawful reasons will be coded as LAWFUL (excused).  All other absences will be coded as UNLAWFUL (unexcused).  The written reason for the absence (parental note) must include:
  • Student’s name
  • Date of absence
  • Reason for absence
  • Parent’s signature
 ALL  NOTES  FOR  ABSENCES  MUST  INCLUDE  A  REASON  FOR  THE  ABSENCE
 When is a student considered present for a full day?
 A student is present for a full day when the student is present all day or absent no more than one (1) hour of the school day.  Some examples of this would be…
  • A student is fifteen (15) minutes late to school
  • A student leaves (45) minutes early at the end of the day
  • A student misses (55) minutes in the middle of the day for an emergency
 When is a student considered absent for a full day?
 A student is considered absent for a full day when the student is absent all day or present for less than one (1) hour of the school day.  Some examples of this would be…
  • A student gets to school on time but leaves within a half-hour because of a doctor’s appointment and does not return to school
  • A student had a doctor’s appointment early in the day and signs into school for the last forty-five (45) minutes of the school day
  • The student came in late and left early, attending school for only fifty-five (55) minutes in the middle of the day.
What is a half day present or absent?
 A student is ONE-HALF (1/2) DAY  PRESENT  AND ONE-HALF (1/2) DAY  ABSENT when the student is present more than one (1) hour and absent more than one (1) hour of the school day.  Some examples of this would be….
  • The student arrives to school one (1) hour and fifteen (15) minutes late and is present for the remainder of the day
  • The student leaves school two (2) hours early
  • The student attends school for two (2) hours in the middle of the day
 
The importance of an education cannot be underestimated.  We hope that parents will join with us and make REGULAR ATTENDANCE an expectation and SCHOOL A PRIORITY each and every day.  Please know that St. Mary’s County Public Schools recognize that there are LAWFUL (excused) absences, and children occasionally need to miss school.  Each student’s situation will be addressed individually to review extenuating circumstances and hardships.