V-41: District Attendance

North Sanpete School District
Statement of .............

Board Policy with Guidelines

Policy Number:  V-41
Effective Date:  04/13/2004
Revised Date:  04/08/2008
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Subject: District Attendance

PHILOSOPHY
North Sanpete School District believes that school attendance has a direct impact on a student's level of academic achievement. In order to make the most of one's educational opportunity, a student must have consistent, punctual, daily attendance. Regular attendance and participation in class is essential for students to be successful and prepare themselves for the best quality of life. It is primarily the responsibility of the student to achieve daily, punctual attendance as directed by the Utah Compulsory Education Act, Utah Code 53A-1 1 (101103) and Administrative Rules R277-438 and 607. Parents or guardians and school officials share a responsibility to make earnest and persistent efforts to resolve attendance problems. A parent or guardian is always welcome and is encouraged to call or visit the school for current attendance and academic information regarding his/her student.

DEFINITIONS
Tardy:  An instance of a student arriving after school or class has begun.
Absence:  A student's non-attendance at school for one school day or part of one school day.
Excused Absence:  A student's absence from school, which is verified through a parent/guardian in accordance with District or school procedures and timelines. The State of Utah and the District identify the following as "valid excuses" for student absenteeism: illness; medical appointments; family emergencies; court appearances; death of a family member or close friend.
Activity Absence:  A student is not counted as absent if on a school sponsored activity such as participation on a school team, club, class, organization, etc. They are required to make up any work missed.
Truancy:  An absence without a valid excuse.
Truant Minor:  A student who is absent from school and/or class without parent's knowledge or has no legitimate or valid excuse. An unexcused absence will be considered a truancy or "sluff."
Notice of Compulsory Education Violation:  A school administrator, a designee of the school administrator, or a truancy specialist may issue a Notice of Compulsory Education Violation to a parent of a student, who is at least six (6) years old but under the age of fourteen (14), if the student is truant (absent without a valid excuse) at least five (5) times during the school year.
Notice of Truancy:  A Truancy Notice may be issued to any student who is at twelve (12) years of age or older and who has been truant (absent without a valid excuse) at least five (5) times during the school year.
Habitual Truant:  A school-aged minor who has been absent without a valid excuse ten (10) or more times during the school year or who, in defiance of efforts on the part of school authorities to resolve a student's attendance problems as required under Section 53A-1 I103, refuses to regularly attend school or any scheduled period of the school day. (R277-607-1 -D) (Utah Code SSA-1 7-101 (2c).
Habitual Truancy Citation:  A Habitual Truancy Citation may be issued to a student twelve (12) years or older who has been truant (absent without a valid excuse) ten (10) or more times or who has not resolved attendance problems after reasonable efforts have been made by the school. After issuing a Habitual Truant Citation, the school shall refer the habitual truant to juvenile court.
Truancy Specialist:  The principal, assistant principal, or District designee shall serve in this position in enforcing laws related to school attendance.
Educational Neglect:  The willful failure or refusal of parents or caretakers to make a good faith effort to ensure that a child receives an appropriate education, after receiving notice that the child has been frequently absent from school without good cause or reasons identified by school law. Examples would include a parent who consistently fails to get a child up on time, dressed, so the child cannot get to school; a parent who keeps a child home to babysit or to work. The situation is defined as educational neglect only when the child's behavior is under the parent's control. This would usually involve an elementary student; with older children, the situation might be more accurately defined as truancy. In such a case, the child might refuse to get up, get dressed, despite the parent's efforts; or the child might leave the house presumably to go to school, and go elsewhere. (Usually, secondary students (7-12) are referred to Juvenile Court, and elementary students (K-6) are referred to DCFS.)
Certified Mail:  Notification, sent through the U.S. Post Office, that requires a signature ofacceptance for the letter. A signed receipt notifies the sender that the letter was accepted and by whom.
Non-Judicial Referral:  A referral made by the school/District directly to a local juvenile authority. A "non-judicial" referral is a referral that is handled by juvenile authorities (not a judge) and does not appear on a court record.
Official Referral:  A referral made directly to the Sixth District Juvenile Court/Judge. This referral usually follows a “ non-judicial” referral if attendance problems are not resolved. This referral does remain on a court record.

STATE AND DISTRICT POLICY
"State Compulsory Education Requirement" (Utah Code, Section 53A-11-101-105) directs parents and schools as follows:

  1. A person having control of a minor who has reached the age of six years, but has not reached the age of eighteen years, shall send the minor to a public or regularly established private school (excludes Home Schools) during the school year of the district in which the minor resides. Administratively, North Sanpete School District expects all students to adhere to this policy and other District policies until a student's class has graduated.
  2. It is a Class B Misdemeanor for a person having control of a minor to willfully fail to comply with the requirements of Utah Code 53A-1 1-101 (3).
  3. A local board of education or designee shall report cases of willful noncompliance to the appropriate city, county, or district attorney.
  4. The law also allows a parent/guardian of a student enrolled in public schools to excuse his/her student from school, but only when the student is absent for a "legitimate or valid reason," as described in the "excused absence (valid excuse)" definition. Because Sixth District Court has jurisdiction over all juveniles residing in North Sanpete School District , it is the expectation of the Court that students within its jurisdiction will be in regular attendance at the school in which they are enrolled. The Court is obligated to adjudicate truancy matters for those students who are habitually absent without a reasonable excuse. To accomplish this goal, the Court requires that public school officials refer to Court those students who are in violation of the "Compulsory Education Requirements." Prior to a referral, the Court expects parents and schools to demonstrate earnest and persistent effort to deter truant behavior. In order for the Court to adjudicate truancy, the Court requires that schools notify parents of attendance policies and consequences for truant behavior and teach students that such behavior is illegal and unacceptable.'
  5. Prior to or no later than school registration, the parent(s) of all school- age children and the students themselves shall be provided written notice from the school or District informing them of the "Compulsory Education Requirements" and the "North Sanpete School District Attendance Policy." Throughout the school year, as new students register, they shall also be given a written copy of this Policy. Upon parent/student receipt or review of this Policy, parents/students may be asked to sign a disclosure statement for verification.
  6. All school-age children are expected to comply with the mandatory "Compulsory Education Requirement" unless the child(ren) have been exempted for one of the reasons listed in Utah Code 53A-1 1-102.

PROCEDURES FOR MONITORING DAILY ATTENDANCE
It is the responsibility of parents to make sure their student attends school and arrives promptly every school day.  If illness or other approved emergencies prevent attendance or causes tardiness, it is the parent's/guardian's responsibility to notify the school's attendance secretary and properly excuse his/her student through a phone call or a signed written note which indicates the reason of the absence. The parent/guardian should notify the school preferably on the day of the absence, but no later than 3:00 pm on the day after the absence(s).

  1. A tardy may be excused by a parent/guardian when an emergency situation results in a student arriving late to school. Students who arrive late need to check in through the attendance office. Three tardys will be considered an absence. Secondary students may not be excused for tardiness between classes unless verified through a staff member. Students, who develop a pattern of habitual tardiness, will be dealt with administratively by each school and will be part of any court referrals. Individual teachers and schools are strongly encouraged to develop academic incentives for promptness as a deterrent for tardiness. Tardy Rationale: Tardies not only hinder a student's ability to profit from instruction at the beginning of class, but they interrupt the teacher's instruction and the work of other students who made the effort to be on time. In addition, tardy students are usually in the hallways interrupting other classes and the efforts of other students/friends to be to class on time. Punctual students perform better in school and at work and is a citizenship skill required by the state.
  2. Elementary schools will take attendance a minimum of twice a day. Secondary schools will take attendance every period.
  3. Any student who leaves school during the school day is required to check out through the attendance office. He/she must present a note from the parent/guardian or must contact the parent/guardian at the time of check out in order for the absence to be excused. If the student does not check out through the office, the absence will automatically be a truancy. In an emergency when a parent/guardian may not be reached, a school administrator may temporarily approve the check-out, pending parental or guardian confirmation by telephone or note within 24 hours. If a student who has checked out returns later in the day, he/she needs to check-in through the attendance office.
  4. Academic grades may be impacted by excessive absences, truancies or tardies. At the discretion of the teacher, and upon written disclosure to students and parents, participation, attendance, and punctuality may together be a factor of up 25% of the grade given in some classes; especially in activity classes: band, choir, dance, orchestra, physical education, home economics, woods, metals, mechanics, construction, etc.
  5. Each school may organize a School Attendance Appeals Committee to review excessive absences and/or truancies and provide parents and students due process. Members of this committee may be appointed by the school administration. Decisions of the School Appeals Committee may be appealed further to the School Board.
  6. The North Sanpete School District may organize a "Truancy Mediation Program “ to assist parent, student, and schools in resolving attendance issues. The program will help parents and students resolve the problem with student attendance.
  7. Any time a student is absence he/she held accountable for his/her learning and missed work.
  8. According to State law, students who are absent ten consecutive days shall be dropped on the 11th day if no student and parent/guardian contact has been made. In these situations, the school and other agencies will make earnest and persistent efforts prior to the ten days to contact the student and parent/guardian to assist with the problem.
  9. The school and/or District shall make allowances for students who may have excessive absences resulting from extended medical conditions or extenuating circumstances.
  10. The District and/or school shall make earnest and persistent efforts to resolve a student's attendance problems through two or more the following interventions:
    1. Counseling of the student by school authorities;
    2. Enlisting parental support for attendance by the student;
    3. Meeting with the student and the parents/guardians;
    4. Adjusting the curriculum and schedule, if determined necessary, to meet special needs of the student;
    5. Sending home letters and progress reports;
    6. Allow parents to attend classes with his/her student;
    7. Having parents monitor daily/weekly attendance;
    8. Enlisting the assistance of government agencies as appropriate;
    9. Recommendation for Truancy Mediation (If available);
    10. Submitting a "non-judicial" referral to the Juvenile Court authorities and/or DCFS;
    11. Submitting an "official" referral to Sixth District Juvenile Court/DCFS;
    12. Providing and/or requiring after school make-up time; options for the student (e.g. concurrent classes, Electronic High School, PLATO, revised 1EP or SEP, etc.); or other as deemed appropriate.
  11. If after earnest and persistent efforts are made and the student's truant or excessive absenteeism has not been corrected, the District or designee will/shall pursue one or more of the following:
    1. Issue a Non-Judicial Referral
    2. Issue a Notice of Compulsory Education Violation
    3. Issue a Notice of Truancy and
    4. Issue a Habitual Truant Citation
    5. Refer to Juvenile Court and/or DCFS
    6. Solicit the assistance of other State agencies
    7. Use other interventions as appropriate
  12. The school will keep a record and document the following according to Administrative Rule R277-607-5:
    1. Documentation of attendance and academic achievement;
    2. Documentation of school efforts to improve attendance;
    3. Copies of truancy notices (citations), including all mailing certificates;
      1. Notice of Compulsory Education Violation
      2. Notice of Truancy
      3. Habitual Truant Citation
    4. Student background as required by the prosecuting agency
    5. Copies of truancy notices (citations) shall be retained in the student's cumulative file.

GUIDELINES FOR EXCESSIVE ABSENCE
The North Sanpete Attendance Policy has been established to encourage good attendance and to facilitate the processing of chronically truant students and/or excessively absent students through the juvenile court, DCFS or other agencies. The District has identified excessive absenteeism as 15 days per year or significant portions of a day or class period(s). The District is committed in making a substantial effort in resolving attendance problems with parents/students at the school level, The District/school will implement and document these earnest and persistent efforts in resolving a student's attendance problems as listed below:

  1. Annual notification of the District and school attendance policies shall be provided to the parent/guardian(s) of all students at the time of registration.
  2. Following the 5th absence in a year or in a given class/period, the principal or designee shall make a "personal contact" with the parent/guardian(s). A meeting may be held and/or a letter may be sent if deemed necessary by the circumstances. At this time, the parent/guardian and student will be counseled to the importance of school attendance and the legal implications of truancy. Part of the counsel shall also include possible interventions to improve attendance. Documentation of the date, time, and method of communication shall be kept. Also, the school or designee shall review and take into consideration the historical attendance record from the previous year of the student. This contact shall serve as a warning and indicate future consequences if the problem continues.
    Note: if prior arrangements for educational needs of the student were made and/or the principal or designee determined the absences to be reasonable, no parent contact, meeting or letter may be necessary.
  3. Following the 10th absence in a school year or in a class, the school will contact the parents/guardians to set up a meeting. A letter will also be sent and may include the student's attendance record and tentative arrangements for the meeting. School officials shall document or keep log entries of the time, place, etc. of this meeting. One or all of the following steps may be applied at this meeting:
    1. Discuss the reason for excessive absences.
    2. Develop a contract (attendance improvement plan) with parents and students.
    3. Discuss make-up work, remediation, summer school, etc.
    4. Request doctor's verification with specific dates for absences due to illness.
    5. Indicate that other agencies (DCFS) or law enforcement personnel may be notified if attendance doesn't improve, including a "no judicial" referral to Juvenile Court or contacting DCFS.
    6. The parents will also be given a copy of Utah State Law 53A-11-101 and 103.
    7. Outline future steps that will be taken if the problem continues as outlined on (d).
    8. Review the student's SEP and SEOP with parents to reinforce the importance of regular attendance for academic success and to discuss adjustments for homework or discipline that may be appropriate for the individual student.
      Note: If prior arrangements for educational needs of the student were made and/or the absences were determined, by the principal or designee, to be reasonable, no parent contact, meeting or letter may be necessary.
  4. Following the 15th absence in a year or in a given class/period: a letter shall be sent and the parent/student shall be notified that the student has been excessively absent/truant and a "non-judicial" referral to juvenile authorities consistent with Section 53A-1 1-104 (6) shall be made by the individual designated by the school/District. Contact to DCFS for Elementary students may be made. This letter must be certified or delivered in person. This "non-judicial" court referral shall include:
    1. Documentation of attendance and academic achievement.
    2. Documentation of school times, etc. which have been done to improve attendance.
    3. Copies of letters, including mailing certificates.
    4. Other student background information (grades, citizenship, behavior, etc.), if requested.
      Note: If prior arrangements for educational needs of the student were made and/or the absences were determined, by the principal or designee, to be reasonable, no disciplinary action, parent contact, meeting, or letter may be necessary.
  5. If the student's absenteeism still continues beyond the 1 5 absence and after the "non-judicial" juvenile court referral, the District shall then make an "official" referral to the Sixth District Juvenile Court and/or DCFS.
  6. The parent/guardian(s) shall have the right to due process and have the right to appeal circumstances in regards to excessive absences and/or truancies, or possible court referral to first the School's Appeals Committee and then to the School Board. Parents/guardians have fifteen calendar days from the dated school notification (by mail or personal contact) to make an appeal.
  7. A student's attendance record from the previous year may be reviewed and applied to the following year for habitual attendance issues.
  8. In order to ensure that procedures are followed, schools must use a checklist or guidelines that clearly describes each step in the Attendance Policy and the interventions used.

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