STUDENT ABSENCES AND EXCUSES
Regular and punctual school attendance is essential for success in school. The Committee recognizes that parents of children attending our schools have important responsibilities, one of which is to ensure that their children attend school regularly, in accordance with state law.

Students may be excused temporarily from school attendance for the following reasons: illness or quarantine; bereavement or serious illness in family; and observance of major religious holidays. Family vacations are not considered excused absences. A principal or designee may also excuse absences for other legitimate reasons.

When a child is absent, the parent should call the school in the morning in accordance with the procedures for that school. The school nurse or designee will call parents of students who are absent when no communication has occurred. Parents may also provide an explanation for the absence or for tardiness through a note or other means.

Chronic absence is defined as 10% or more of days absent, regardless of whether or not the absence is excused. A student must be at school or at a school related activity for at least half the school day to be counted as present. In instances of chronic or irregular absence reportedly due to illness, the school administration may request a physician's statement certifying such absences to be justified.

Under Chapter 119 of the Acts of 2012, a “CRA” (Child Requiring Assistance) application may be filed in court by a school district if a school-aged child who is “habitually truant,” that is, who willfully fails to attend school for more than eight school days in a quarter, or who repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable regulations of his or her school. The Court’s authority pursuant to a CRA petition includes the power to place the child in the custody of the state agency known as the Department of Children and Families.

Students-in-Need teams have been established in each Leicester School for the purpose of discussing students who may be at risk for any reason. This team shall review attendance data on a regular basis and determine interventions, when appropriate. An intervention may be planned through a meeting with a student and his/her parent/guardian. The purpose of the meeting shall be to develop action steps to improve student attendance.

When a student is absent for 15 consecutive days and no notice has been provided to the school, the student shall continue to be considered enrolled until the Principal or designee has sent notice to the parent/guardian and an exit interview with the Superintendent or designee has been arranged. The notice shall be sent within 10 days of the 15th absence and shall be in both English and the primary language of the home, if applicable. The notice shall include contact information for scheduling the exit interview and shall indicate the parties shall reach an agreement on the date/time of the interview within a ten (10) day timeframe. The timeframe may be extended at the request of the parent/guardian and no extension shall exceed 14 days.

The Superintendent or designee shall convene a team of school staff to participate in the exit interview and shall provide information to the student and, if applicable, the student’s parent/guardian on the detrimental effects of early withdrawal from school and the alternative education programs and services available to the student.

The Superintendent or designee may proceed with unenrolling the student without an exit interview, provided the Superintendent or designee has documented a good faith effort to include the parent/guardian.

The district shall follow the guidance of the Massachusetts Department of Education “Attendance and Dropout Reporting Guidelines,” available at: __www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/data/sims/attendance.pdf__.

SOURCE: MASC
LEGAL REFS.: M.G.L.__76:1__; 76:1B;__76:16__; 76:18;__76:20__

ADOPTED: October 14, 2014

REVISED: January 12, 2016