Explanation of Attendance Policy
Assistant Principals’ Office 24 hour Attendance Number (203) 341-1281
Pre-Planned Absence Form (pdf)
A Statement of Belief
It is our belief that there is a clear and positive correlation between student learning and consistent and prompt attendance in class. Much of what is presented in courses is sequential. Therefore, learning requires a continuity of attendance and effort. We also strongly believe that what occurs in class is vital to student learning. The richness of class discussions, the exchange of ideas with peers and teachers, the opportunity to defend one’s ideas, the viewing of films and videos, mean that even if students make up the missed work, they have forever lost an opportunity for increased learning and skill development. In addition, a great deal of work in class is done cooperatively and a lack of attendance makes it difficult, if not impossible, for peers to successfully complete the work required. Lack of consistent attendance means that students will not get the full benefit of the courses offered at Staples High School and thus attendance should be and will be a significant factor in the determination of a student’s grade as determined by the individual teacher.
Please take into account the TOTAL number of days your child has missed a class or classes due to very legitimate reasons such as: driver’s license appointment, college visit, medical appointment, field trips, in-school field trips, etc. Mixed with illness and other unavoidable absences, the number of days out of class can interfere with learning.
Purposeof the Attendance Policy
The purpose of the Staples High School Attendance Policy reflects our desire to have each student attend all classes and arrive on time. Students and parents should familiarize themselves with the provisions and procedures of the policy. It is expected that parents will support the intent of the policy and encourage their children to have good attendance. The SHS Attendance Policy has been approved by the Board of Education and reviewed by the attorney for the Board of Education. Any questions should be directed to the administrators responsible for attendance.
THE ATTENDANCE POLICY
The number of absences permitted for each course before credit is lost is listed below:
- Full-year course: 20 absences
- Semester course: 10 absences
- Quarter course: 5 absences
- Special courses (other than above): Prorate absences
Absences beyond this number will result in loss of credit for the course or courses in which the student has been absent. For seniors, loss of credit in a course may result in failure to meet graduation requirements.
A LOSS OF CREDIT MAY OCCUR THROUGH THE ACCUMULATION OF ABSENCES FROM ANY ONE OF THE FOUR TYPES OF ABSENCES LISTED OR THROUGH ANY COMBINATION OF THE FOUR TYPES OF ABSENCES.
EACH TYPE OF ABSENCE IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT IN ITS CONTRIBUTION TOWARD REACHING THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE ABSENCES IN A COURSE.
(1) Excused Absences: (equals ONE absence per occasion)
- Student illness
- Death or critical illness in the family
- Response to a legal process
- Medical appointment (which cannot be scheduled outside of the school day)
- College visit beyond two (juniors and seniors only)
- Early dismissal or late arrival for other than school related activities
- An absence deemed “excused” by the administrator responsible for the student
- A verified visit to the Guidance Office to meet with a college representative. Juniors missing class to meet with a college rep will be charged with an unexcused absence.
(2) Unexcused Absences: (equals TWO absences per occasion)
- All absences not identified above are considered UNEXCUSED
- Absences that are not explained by a Pre-Planned Absence Form, a note and/or a telephone call from a parent within 48 hours after the student’s return to school from an absence, are considered UNEXCUSED
- An absence deemed “unexcused” by the administrator responsible for the student. No makeup work is allowed for class periods where a student has accrued an unexcused absence.
(3) Unexcused Tardies: (equals .25 absence per occasion)
- Occurs when a student arrives up to 10 minutes late for class without authorization
(4) Unexcused Late: (equals .50 absence per occasion)
- Occurs when a student arrives to a class later than 10 minutes without authorization, but less than half way through the class.
- Students arriving more than halfway through the class without authorization will be considered absent.
Absences which do not count towards the loss of credit include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- School related activities
- Suspensions: in-school or out-of-school
- Homebound instruction
- “Special” absences
Sports or other school approved extracurricular activities
Scheduled office and guidance appointments - Normally, scheduled office and guidance appointments should occur during non-class time.
- Religious Observance
- For Juniors and Seniors ONLY: 2 days for college visits. Students must fill out a Pre-Planned Absence Form available in the Assistant Principals’ Office prior to going on a college visit. Failure to do so will result in the visit being counted as an absence.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM PARENTS
- It is the responsibility of parents to communicate to the school the reason for all absences.
- Parent notes or telephone calls to excuse an absence must be received no later than 48 hours following the student’s return to school, or the absence will be classified as unexcused.
All students, please call the Assistant Principals’ Office 24 hour Attendance Number (203) 341-1281.
- Parent notes to request an early dismissal must be presented to the attendance office before the student is dismissed in order for dismissal to be considered excused.
- Provide medical documentation for long-term absences, to include the nature of the illness, any limitations on the student, inclusive dates of medical condition, specific dates of absence covered.
CONTENT OF PARENT NOTES
All parent notes for any reason must include the following:
- the student’s name,
- the date(s) of the absence(s),
- the specific reason for the absence, lateness or dismissal,
- the signature of the parent
- a daytime phone number where a parent can be reached to verify the note.
“Blanket” notes covering unspecified dates of absences, tardies, etc. are not acceptable. (for example: “Please excuse my child from all absences in the months of April and May due to illness.”)
COMMUNICATIONS TO STUDENT AND PARENTS
Students and parents will be notified concerning absences by mail utilizing the following letters:
- Student and parents will have access to information concerning attendance via eSchool Home Access Center.
- Excessive Absence Notification Letter: generated when one-half of the number of permitted absences has been accumulated in a class. The purpose of this notification will be to inform the parent and the student of the possibility of loss of credit if the student’s attendance does not improve.
- Loss of Credit Letter: generated when a student loses credit in any course.
- Appeals Board Hearing Results Notification: used to communicate the decision of the Appeals Board to the student and parent when a student appeals a loss of credit.
Any anticipated absence, such as college visitations, family vacations, etc., which conflict with the school calendar, must be arranged in advance by a phone call or a Pre-Planned Absence Form or the absence will be considered unexcused and make-up privileges will be forfeited.
DISMISSAL DURING THE SCHOOL DAY
Once students have reported to school, they are expected to remain in school and attend classes all day. Under the following conditions, a student may have an excused dismissal:
- Under rare or emergency circumstances, a written request from a parent must be presented or a phone call must be received by the Assistant Principals’ Office and/or Attendance Office prior to dismissal. A parent may come to the attendance office and personally request dismissal.
- The student must sign out in the Attendance Office. If the student returns to school, the student must sign in at the Attendance Office to verify the time of his/her return and provide appropriate documentation.
- Students returning from any type of outside of school appointment: doctor etc., must present a note upon return from the appropriate office to the Attendance Secretary.
Failure to meet the above two conditions will cause any class absences to be considered unexcused. Such absences will be counted towards loss of credit and make-up privileges will be forfeited.
ILLNESS IN SCHOOL
- In case of illness while in school, the student must report to the health office.
- The nurse, with parental permission, will make the decision to dismiss the student from school.
- Once the nurse has obtained permission to dismiss the student, the student will be issued a dismissal pass.
- Students who become ill in school and report to areas other than the nurse’s office (cafeteria, restrooms, off campus) will be considered “unexcused” and may face disciplinary action.
APPOINTMENTS WITH STAPLES HIGH SCHOOL STAFF
- Upon arrival for an appointment, it is the student’s obligation to immediately inform the counselor, Assistant Principal, etc. if a test or major graded assignment is planned for that period.
- The student should then request that the appointment be rescheduled.
- Failure to do so will result in the absence being considered unexcused.
- Such an absence will count towards loss of credit and make-up privileges will be forfeited.
MONITOR THE NUMBER OF ABSENCES IN EACH CLASS
- Throughout the school year, it is the responsibility of the student and parent(s) to monitor closely the number of absences, which have been accumulated in each course.
- When a student anticipates an absence from school or from a particular class for any reason, it is very important that the student and the parent consider carefully the necessity of the absence, taking into consideration the current number of accumulated absences and their potential impact on loss of credit in the course.
CERTIFICATION OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
- During an appeal for reinstatement of credit, the Appeals Board may request confirmation from a doctor to explain specific and frequent absences, which occurred due to medical reasons.
- Students and parents are advised to monitor the number of absences, which have accumulated because of medical reasons.
- When absences for medical reasons are frequent, it may be advisable to seek documentation from a doctor that a chronic illness exists.
- Presentation of verified information regarding chronic illness and specific dates of absence will strengthen a student’s case in an appeal for reinstatement of credit.
- Just as with parent notes, doctor’s notes need to specifically address dates of absences, and may not be “blanket excuses” for all absences which have occurred over a period a time. Such information must be presented on going and not at the end of a course.
LOSS OF CREDIT
- A student will lose credit in a course when the number of accumulated absences exceeds the number of permitted absences.
- When a student has lost credit, the administrator responsible for the student’s attendance will review the record with the student and the parent. The student and the parent will receive a written copy of the appeals procedure.
- The student will be instructed to attend class, and the procedure to appeal the loss of credit will be explained.
- When credit is lost, the student is expected to attend the class. In addition, consistent attendance following loss of credit strengthens a student’s appeals case.
- A letter grade will appear on the transcript even though credit is lost. All courses require a passing grade for the student to move to the next level.
EXCESSIVE “CLASS CUTTING” FOLLOWING LOSS OF CREDIT
Students, who flagrantly disregard the intent of the Staples High School Attendance Policy and continue to cut a class/s after loss of credit, may be removed from that class with a final grade of Withdrawn Failure (WF). The administrator responsible for the student, after consultation with the teacher, will determine under what circumstances this action will be taken.
Right Of Appeal
The Attendance Policy is not designed to deny credit to students who, through no fault of their own, were unable to attend school or a class due to a legitimate illness or other condition beyond the student’s/parents’ control. In January and June, students who have lost credit will have an opportunity to appeal to have credit reinstated. A student’s decision to appeal must take into consideration the student’s total attendance record. Any absences, other than excused absences will weaken the student’s appeal. Absences which remain unexcused and undocumented as well as chronic absences will also weaken the student’s appeal. Students wishing to appeal must follow the appeals procedure. If students do not have valid reasons for appealing loss of credit, they should contact their counselor to identify what options are available.
THE APPEALS BOARD:
- Composed of three teachers and the administrator responsible for the student.
- Hears the student’s case and makes a decision on whether to reinstate credit.
- An Appeals Board decision is final.
- The decision will only be reviewed by the Principal as a result of the introduction of additional information, which was NOT presented to the Appeals Board.
- A request for review must state the intention of the review, and any new evidence in a written statement by the student and the parent(s).
- Students wishing to appeal to the Principal must do so within two (2) schools days following the receipt of the decision of the Appeals Board.
- A student must appear in person before the Appeals Board. Failure to do so will be an automatic denial of restoration of credit.
Under extremely rare and narrowly defined circumstances, a student who lost credit in one or more courses may not have to appear before the Attendance Appeals Committee to appeal the loss of credit. Instead, the assistant principal will appeal the student’s loss of credit directly to the principal for adjudication. The assistant principal uses the following criteria, along with input from the guidance and/or pupil services staff, in determining which students to “fast-track”:
- documented illness
- total amount of absences barely exceeds the total number of absences required to lose credit.
- teacher recommendation
All absences are excused, with the vast majority of absences being caused by documented illness or condition that was beyond the control of the student.
The total amount of absences in a particular course barely exceeds the total number of absences required to lose credit.