School attendance has a huge impact on a student's academic success starting in prekindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and more independent, families play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day. Regular and consistent attendance is necessary for student achievement, graduation, and college and career readiness.
St. Mary's County Public Schools' student attendance policy is based on the overriding premise that success is dependent upon a continuous and consistent classroom instructional experience. Students need opportunities to master essential academic knowledge and skills, develop an appropriate sense of self-worth, establish satisfactory peer relationships, and develop a sense of responsibility. The school cannot educate students or provide support to students when they are absent from school.
We realize some absences are unavoidable, but we also know when students miss too much school, regardless of the reason, it can cause them to fall behind academically. Parent(s)/legal guardian(s) may monitor school attendance through the Home Access Center (HAC) on the St. Mary's County Public School website (www.smcps.org). A student is counted present for a full day if the student is in attendance four or more hours of the school day. A student is counted present for one-half (1/2) day if in attendance or at least two hours of the school day, but less than four hours. If you are having problems with your username, password, or login, please contact the school.
Documentation of an absence must be sent to school within three days of the absence, either with a written note, phone call, email, or through the school website portal. The following reasons are deemed lawful absences:
· Death in the immediate family;
· Student illness, for which the principal may require a physician's certificate;
· Court summons;
· Hazardous weather conditions;
· Work if approved or sponsored by the school;
· Observance of a religious holiday;
· State of emergency;
· Lack of authorized transportation; and
· Other circumstance, which in the judgment of the principal, constitutes a
sufficient cause for absence from school.
Recent state legislative changes, changed the definition of habitual truancy. A student is now considered habitually truant if he or she is unlawfully absent for eight days in any marking period, 15 days in either semester, or 20 days in the school year. It is important that parent(s)/legal guardian(s) send documentation of an absence to ensure students are not considered habitually truant from school.
If a student is absent twenty-five (25) or more days, the student will be referred to the Pupil Services Team (PST) for consideration of retention for the following year and/or credit withholding to ensure the student has had an appropriate opportunity to learn and master grade level skills and/or course content. Students who are excessively absent from school may be referred to the Interagency Committee on School Attendance.
Here are a few practical tips to help support regular attendance:
1. Ensure children go to school every day unless they are sick.
2. Make sure children keep a regular bedtime and establish a morning routine.
3. Select clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
4. Avoid scheduling vacations or doctor's appointments when school is in session.
5. Talk to teachers and counselors for advice if a child feels anxious about going to school.
6. Develop alternative plans for getting to school if something comes up.
School Attendance Matters