The Chickamauga City Board of Education recognizes that a major objective of the school is to prepare students for life and to teach them skills necessary to be productive in society. Therefore, good attendance and prompt arrival to school and/or class is expected and necessary.
School attendance is compulsory in Georgia between the ages of six (6) and sixteen (16). Children enrolled in the public schools prior to their sixth birthday are subject to this law and the rules of the State Board of Education governing compulsory attendance, even though they have not attained six years of age. The State Department of Education defines truant as any child subject to compulsory attendance who during the school calendar year has more than five (5) days of unlawful absences.
In accordance with the requirements of the compulsory school attendance laws of Georgia, students are required to attend 180 full-length days each school year unless there is a legitimate, verifiable reason for their absence. Furthermore, high school students whose academic schedule is set for the accrual of Carnegie units may be subject to the loss of credit due to excessive absenteeism. The professional staff has the responsibility to enforce the compulsory attendance law where applicable. The school administration shall have in place published rules and procedures governing the enforcement of these academic sanctions resulting from excessive absenteeism. The school administration also has the legal obligation to report excessive unlawful absences to the Georgia Department of Safety, which issues driver's license. School social workers have the authority and duty to file proceedings in court to enforce the compulsory attendance law.
During the day the students are the responsibility of the school. Parents expect the school to take proper care of their children and to protect them with proper supervision. In order for this to be done, no student is to leave school without following proper checkout procedures. Leaving school without following those procedures is a serious offense and any student guilty of this is subject to suspension. Additionally, no student shall encourage, urge, or counsel other students to violate this policy.
Attendance has a vital bearing on the educational process. It should not be encouraged to the point of keeping children in school who are sick but should be insisted upon to achieve the maximum benefit from the educational system.
Students may be counted legally present:
· When actually present;
· When acting as an official page in the legislative assembly;
· When present for one-half day or more;
· When assigned in-school suspension;
· When representing the school at a school function;
· When served by a hospital/homebound teacher; and
· When attending a school sponsored event/activity.
The state requires a daily record of attendance to be maintained. The attendance record must reflect whether each absence is lawful or unlawful in accordance with the law. Attendance is also recorded by class. All attendance requirements will be considered at the class level.
Unlawful Absences: Unlawful absences are absences from school for reasons other than those considered excusable under Georgia Law or this policy.
Lawful Absences: A lawful absence is any absence permitted by the policies and regulations of the local Board of Education in accordance with State laws and State Department of Education policies and regulations.
The following reasons have been established as lawful absences and students may be temporarily excused from school when:
1. Personally ill and when attendance in school would endanger their health or the health of others.
2. A serious illness or death in their immediate family necessitates absence from school. (Immediate family of student is defined as parents, guardian(s), grandparents, siblings, and other adults living in the home.)
3. Mandated by order of governmental agencies, including pre-induction physical examinations for service in the armed forces, or by court order.
4. Celebrating religious holidays observed by the student's faith.
5. Conditions render attendance impossible or hazardous to their health and safety.
6. Registering to vote or voting for a period not to exceed one day.
7. Visiting with a parent/legal guardian who is in the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard and has been called to duty for, or is on leave from, overseas deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, up to a maximum of five school days per school year.
Students who are at least twelve (12) years of age will be counted as present when serving as page of the Georgia General Assembly.
When a parent finds it necessary for a student to be out of school for any reason other than those listed above, prior approval must be obtained from the school administrator. While the absences may be unlawful, the administrator may grant permission for work to be made up that would affect a course/subject grade for passing without affecting exam exemptions.
The schools realize that occasionally it is necessary to schedule dental or doctor appointments during the school day. This should be kept to a minimum. Parents are urged to arrange dental visits and doctor visits for well health issues outside of school hours. Students with doctor/dental appointments are excused only for the time of the visit and a reasonable time before and after the visit. The remaining portion of the day shall be counted unlawful. Excuses from medical/dental facilities are required to specify the appointment time and the departure time the student was at the medical/dental facility.
Students may be eligible for instruction through the hospital/homebound program if a doctor anticipates that the student will be out a minimum of ten consecutive days because of illness or accident. Students with chronic health conditions that cause intermittent periods of absence, which may be less than ten days on each occasion, are required to provide medical documentation to school personnel annuallywith updates as deemed necessary by the principal or school social worker.
Individual students who must be absent from school for a portion of the school day must attend school for one half of the instructional day to be counted present for that day. However, the student will be counted absent from those classes which are missed because of late arrival or early dismissal. When a student is excused for a portion of the school day, the student shall be released only to a legal parent or guardian, to a person properly identified to school authorities on the student's emergency contact sheet, or upon written request or verified telephone call from the parents or guardian.
Before admission to class upon returning to school following an absence, a student must report to the school principal or his/her designee with a written note from a parent, guardian, physician, or legal authority stating the reason for the absence. These notes should be dated and give the date of the absence, state the reason for the absence and have the parent's/guardian's signature. The principal or his designee at their discretion may require a physician's statement for absences due to illness if the student has been absent more than five (5) consecutive days or in cases where absences have reached the maximum fourteen (14) days per school year for elementary and middle school, seven (7) days per term for high school. The principal or designee will also determine whether an absence is lawful in accordance with policies and regulations of the Chickamauga City Board of Education, which are based on the compulsory attendance law. Excuses not received within three (3) days of the student's returning to school will not be accepted and the absence will be counted as an unlawful absence.
Tardies and Leaving School Before the End of the Instructional Day
Students are required to arrive at school in time to be in their assigned classrooms before the time set by administration. Students not in their classrooms at that time will be counted tardy. Middle school students will be counted absent from the class if they miss more than 20 minutes of the class period and high school students will be counted absent from the class if they miss more than 30 minutes of the class period. Tardies at the elementary level will be handled by parent contact. Tardies at the middle and high school levels will be handled as discipline issues. Since tardies represent a loss of instructional time for students, five (5) tardies shall be considered one absence for the purposes of this policy and related procedures. Leaving school before the end of the instructional day may only be for lawful reasons. Middle school students leaving before the end of the day will be counted absent from the class or classes missed if they miss more than 20 minutes of the class. High school students leaving before the end of the day will be counted absent from the class or classes missed if they miss more than 30 minutes of the class.
Make-up Work Procedures for Absences
A student who has a lawful absence will be provided an opportunity to make up work that has been missed. The student or parent is responsible for making the arrangements for the make-up work.
Note: For students with lawful absences, ten (10) days will be allowed to make up work. The number of days allowed shall not exceed ten (10) days without approval of the principal.
If the student fails to make up the work in the allowed time period, a grade of zero (0) will be given for all graded work not made up.
Absences shall not penalize student grades if the following conditions are met:
1. Absences are lawful;
2. Make-up work for lawful absences is completed satisfactorily within the allowable time period.
Students with unlawful absences will not be permitted to make up work unless extenuating circumstances exist as determined by the principal. Out of school suspensions shall count as unlawful absences.
Maximum Number of Absences
A total of fourteen (14) or more absences (lawful or unlawful) at the elementary and middle school level will result in consideration for retention.
Any middle or high school student having more than seven (7) absences (lawful and/or unlawful) in a class during a term may not receive credit for the class unless a waiver is granted through the appeals process by the principal or the principal's designee. Students who have more than seven absences must appeal in writing to the principal or the principal's designee to receive earned credit. If any absences are unlawful, the principal or designee shall determine whether there exist unusual conditions or extenuating circumstances relating to the student's personal life or family situation, which would require that the provisions of this policy be waived. If so, the student shall be allowed to make up missed work and shall not be denied credit for the term based on excessive absences. All make-up work must be completed within two weeks after the end of the semester. If the student has any unlawful absences and there are no unusual conditions or extenuating circumstances relating to the student's personal life or family situation, the student may not be allowed to receive credit for the term, even if the student has passing grades. This decision shall be final with no appeal to the Board of Education allowed, except for failure to comply with this policy.
In accordance with Georgia law, schools will make every effort, including first class mail, to notify students fourteen or older when the student has only three (3) absences remaining before violating the State's attendance requirements regarding the denial of driver's permit and license. Additionally, the State Board of Education will be notified of any student accumulating ten (10) unlawful absences during a semester. As a result, a student's driver's permit or license may be denied or withdrawn by the Department of Motor Vehicles due to poor attendance. Chickamauga City Schools is authorized to withdraw a student who has been absent more than ten (10) consecutive days of unlawful absences, is not subject to compulsory school attendance, and is not receiving instructional services from the Chickamauga City Schools through homebound instruction or instructional services required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In accordance with Georgia Law, schools will make every effort, including first class, to notify the parent/guardian, or other person who has charge of the student. Additionally, due to endeavors to meet Adequate Yearly Progress requirements, as well as to give scheduling preferences to on track students, it is not the policy of the Chickamauga City School System to accept high school fifth year regular education students. If extenuating circumstances exist, the principal of the school will determine acceptance. No appeals will be allowed above the school level.
Progressive Discipline Policy
Georgia compulsory attendance laws identify truancy as a Code of Conduct violation. To promote and encourage regular attendance Chickamauga City Schools administrators will attempt to make contact with parent/guardian each day of absence and will also implement the following procedures:
Schools will develop and implement active, positive student attendance incentive programs to support and encourage good daily student attendance.
A letter is provided for all parents/students in the application packet that emphasizes the importance of good student attendance in reference to high academic achievement and to the No Child Left Behind requirements for meeting Adequate Yearly Progress.
Administrators, teachers, counselors and paraprofessionals use every opportunity to discuss good school attendance when meeting with parents (i.e., conferences, open houses, newsletters, etc.).
Before school begins for the year, the Principal or designee will send a second letter to the parents of those students who accumulated fifteen (15) or more absences during the previous school year referencing the importance of good attendance and offering support. These letters should contain information informing parents about No Child Left Behind, Adequate Yearly Progress, and the State Board of Education Student Attendance Rules.
Before school begins for the year, teachers are notified of students in their classes that accumulated fifteen (15) or more absences the previous year so they can be given special positive attention and encouragement.
Local schools will provide to the parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of each student enrolled in the school a written summary of possible consequences and penalties for failing to comply with compulsory attendance. By September 1 of each school year or within thirty (30) days of a student's enrollment in the school, the parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of such student shall sign a statement indicating receipt of such written statement of possible consequences and penalties. In addition, students age ten or older by September 1 shall sign a statement indicating receipt of such written statement of possible consequences for non-compliance to the school system's policy. After two reasonable attempts by the school to secure such signature or signatures, the school shall be considered to be in compliance if it sends a copy of the statement, via certified mail, return receipt requested to such parent, guardian, or other person who has charge or control of a child or children. These notices to parents can be included as part of the system's Student/Parent Disciplinary Handbook to include signed receipt, or a separate attachment, as the school deems most appropriate.
A. Administrators should make a concerted effort to alert parents each day a student is absent.
B. Designated school staff should contact parents each time a student has an unlawful absence to inquire about the reason for the absence and offer support and encouragement, as well as remind student and parent of possible consequences. This contact with parents should be on the day the student returns to school without a valid excuse.
C. Designated school staff should contact parents when a student accumulates five (5) lawful absences to offer support and encouragement. All contacts should be documented.
D. It should be noted that best practices have shown that direct teacher contact with parents in tracking daily absenteeism to be an effective intervention in these cases.
Beginning with the third absence teachers shall contact parents each time a student is absent. A record of documented contacts shall be kept.
When a student reaches five (5) lawful or unlawful absences the teacher shall refer the student to the School Counselor and also submit to that Counselor the parent contact documentation.
School Counselor will meet with each student referred in Step 9 and make contact with parent to offer support and encouragement as well as remind students and parents of possible consequences of excessive absenteeism. School Counselor shall notify the Principal of a student's fifth unlawful absence and schedule a conference.
The school will notify the parent, guardian, or other person having charge or control of the student when such student has five (5) unlawful absences. The notice shall outline the penalty and consequences of such absences and that each subsequent absence shall constitute a separate offense. After two reasonable attempts to notify the parent, guardian, or person having charge or control of a student of five unexcused days of absence without response, the school shall send a written notice via certified mail with return receipt requested.
At five (5) unlawful absences a conference will be held and may include: school administrator, parent, student (optional), School Counselor and School Social Worker. The needs of the student/family will be discussed. Solutions may include direct services from the school such as tutoring, mentoring, attendance contracts, or referrals to community social service agencies or truancy panels.
The Principal will refer the student to the School Social Worker for monitoring and a copy of the compulsory attendance law will be provided for the parent. The student may be placed on probation for the remainder of the year.
School Social Workers will follow-up on those student referrals that have five (5) or more unlawful absences to assist students and families in improving student attendance. If these student referrals do not improve and reach seven (7) unlawful absences the School Social Worker will make a referral to Walker County Truancy Treatment Team (grades K-6) or Walker County Department of Juvenile Justice (grades 7-12). Referrals to other agencies, such as Magistrate and/or Superior Court of Walker County or the Department of Family and Children Services, may also be made where warranted. Other strategies may also be used including loss of credit, student probation, and possible expulsion from Chickamauga City Schools. Additionally, the School Social Worker will make every effort, including first class mail, to notify students 14 or older that the student has only three (3) absences remaining before violating the State's attendance requirements regarding the denial of driver's permit and license. In accordance with Georgia law, the State Board of Education will also be notified of any student accumulating ten (10) unlawful absences in the current academic year, or ten (10) or more school days of unlawful absences in the previous academic year. As a result, a student's driver's permit or license may be denied or withdrawn by the Department of Motor Vehicles due to poor attendance.
Ultimately, responsibility for school attendance or absenteeism rests with the students and their parents or guardians. Regular school attendance must be a priority. Additional resources available for students and parents assistance include:
· School nurses
· School counselors
· System social workers
REVISED: 2005-05-15; 2005-12-12; 2006-06-12;
Chickamauga City Board of Education