5.4 ATTENDANCE POLICY
Alabama law requires that all children between the ages of seven and seventeen be enrolled in and attend school. In addition, new state law amendments (Ala. code s. 16-28-16, as amended by Act 1999-705) provide that all children who choose to enroll in school even if not of compulsory school age, are subject to the school attendance and truancy laws of the state. All students should attend school regularly and be punctual for all classes in order to receive the greatest benefit from the instructional program and develop habits of punctuality, self-discipline, and individual responsibility. There is a direct relationship between poor attendance and class failure. Students who have good attendance generally achieve higher grades and enjoy school more. Attendance at school shall be one of the factors considered in determining the promotion of a student from one grade to another or in any given course.
A. GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
According to the Alabama State Department of Education, excused absences are as follows:
a) Student illness
b) Death in the immediate family
c) Emergency conditions as determined by the principal
d) Legal quarantine
e) Summons to court
f) Prior permission of the principal as requested by parent or legal guardian
All other absences are unexcused and will be marked accordingly in the attendance register. If a student’s absence exceeds five days in a nine weeks grading period and there is reason to believe the student was not too ill to attend school, the student may be required to submit a doctor’s statement verifying the illness in order for him/her to receive credit for the nine weeks grading period. No passing grade for a nineweeks will be given to a student whose unexcused absences exceed three days. Additionally, no passing grade for a semester will be given to any student whose unexcused absences exceed five days for that semester. No passing grade will be given to any elementary student whose unexcused absences exceed ten days in a year.
Ten absences per semester shall be considered the maximum number of absences allowed for students to receive a passing grade in a class or course. Any absences over ten will be coded unexcused unless there is a verified medical condition or illness that requires additional absences from school. Documentation on this medical condition shall be on file in the school’s main office. Attendance in each individual class will be counted to determine if the absence maximum has been exceeded for that class. Elementary schools will determine absences in full day increments.
Students may be exempt from semester exams if they have (a) an 85+ average in the class with no absences, or (b) a 90+ average in the class with one absence.
Students, who are absent from school, must bring a written note, specifying the reason for the absence, upon his/her return to school. (This includes checking out of school early or checking into school late.) A parent/guardian or a physician must sign the note. The dated and signed statement must contain the student’s name and a reason for the absence(s), date(s) of the absence(s), and must provide a phone number where the parent/guardian may be reached for verification purposes. The written statement will be presented to a designated person in the school, upon the student’s return. This person will present the student with an “ADMIT TO CLASS (ATC)” form. The original excuse will be retained on file in the school office. The “ATC” form will state the nature of the absence as excused or unexcused. It will be the responsibility of the student to show the “ATC” form to his/her classroom teacher(s). Each classroom teacher will record the status of each absence in the grade book. The student will be allowed to make up work only for excused absences. At the time the “ATC” is submitted, the student should inquire about any missed assignments and make arrangements for make-up work. No assignments will be made up for credit for unexcused absences. In the event that a student fails to bring a written note upon his/her return to school following an absence, a temporary “ATC” will be issued to the student. This “ATC” will be coded unexcused. Students have three school days from the last day missed to bring in an excuse or the absence remains unexcused.
Make Up Work:
a) For the first ten absences each semester, students will be eligible for make-up work as long as the absence has been coded excused according to guidelines of this policy, and the student presents his/her “ATC” form to the teacher and makes arrangements to make up the missed work.
b) After a tenth absence from school or class in any one semester, no make-up work will be given without a Dr.’s medical condition letter or principal’s permission. Principal’s permission is to be used for primarily for events beyond a student’s control (i.e., extended illness, family death, etc.).
c) It is the student’s responsibility to present the coded excuse (“ATC” form) to each teacher. If the student is eligible to make up missed work, he/she in cooperation with the teacher, must make arrangements for make-up work or tests. Such work or tests should be completed within a reasonable time as determined by the teacher and/or school administrator. (Note: This procedure shall also be followed for make-up work missed due to time away from school for approved school-related activities.)
d) A grade of zero will be received for work or tests missed on the day of any unexcused absence and for any absence past the tenth per semester without a doctor’s medical condition letter or principal’s permission.
e) Homebound services may be provided for qualified students (as determined by Board of Education) after a two (2) week absence for high school students and after a three (3) week absence for elementary students.
Students may use a parent/guardian note for a maximum of five school days or portions of days (late check-ins or early check-outs) per semester. Any additional absences must be accompanied by a Dr.’s excuse or legal notice; otherwise the absence is unexcused and the student is considered truant. After the third unexcused absence, students are referred to the Blount County Board of Education Attendance Officer, and the parent/guardian will be contacted. If subsequent referrals are made to the Attendance Officer, the parent/guardian and student will be referred to juvenile court. If the parent/guardian and student (if the student is of age to be at Early Warning Court) are referred to juvenile court three years, the third referral may result in a direct referral to Blount County District Court for disposition.
Once a student arrives on campus, he/she may not leave school grounds during school hours without permission of the principal. This includes going to his/her car for any
reason. In the case of illness of a child during the school day, the principal or a designated person may take appropriate measures as required.
B. COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE
The Board shall enroll in school all students residing within the school district between the ages of seven (7) and seventeen (17) not otherwise receiving instruction in a private school, church school, home school, or being taught by a private tutor. Additionally, any child who is five (5) years of age on or before September 1 of that school year and lives in the school district and wishes to attend school may do so. An accurate record of attendance for every student enrolled in school shall be maintained. This record shall be kept by the classroom or homeroom teacher or other designated person in the school in the official register or through other officially approved documentation provided or approved by the State Department of Education.
Parents and guardians are responsible for enrolling their children in school and ensuring that the children attend school and obey behavior policies adopted by the Board. Parents failing to enroll students and ensuring their attendance and proper behavior are subject to fines and imprisonment under state law. State law also requires that all student suspensions from school must be reported to the local district attorney.
Principals must report to the local superintendent any parent, guardian, or other person having control or custody of a child who fails to require the child to attend school or receive instruction by a private tutor, of fails to properly conduct him/herself at school. The Superintendent or designee is required to report the violators to the district attorney within 10 days.
A portion of Act 94-782 is printed below for the purpose of informing parents and others of the law as it relates to them.
“Act 94-782. Section 1. Section 16-28-12, Code of Alabama 1975 is amended to read as follows:
(a) Each parent, guardian, or other person having control or custody of any child required to attend school or receive regular instruction by a private tutor who fails to have the child enrolled in school or who fails to send the child to school, or have him or her instructed by a private tutor during the time the child is required to attend a public school, private school, church school, denominational school, or parochial school, or be instructed by a private tutor, or fails to require the child to regularly attend the school or tutor, or fails to compel the child to properly conduct himself or herself as a pupil in any public school in accordance with the written policy on school behavior adopted by the local board of education pursuant to this section and documented by the appropriate school official which conduct may result in the suspension of the pupil, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars ($100) and may also be sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than 90 days.
The absence of a child without the consent of the principal or teacher of the public school he or she attends or should attend, or of the tutor who instructs the child, shall be prima facie evidence of the violation of this section.
(b) Each local public board of education shall adopt a written policy for its standards on school behavior. Each local public school superintendent shall provide at the commencement of each academic year a copy of the written policy on school behavior to each parent, guardian, or other person having care or control of a child who is enrolled. Included in the written policy shall be a copy of this section. The signature of the student and the parent, guardian, or other person having control or custody of the child shall document receipt of the policy.
(c) Any parent, guardian, or other person having control or custody of any child enrolled in public school who fails to require the child to regularly attend the school or tutor, or fails to compel the child to properly conduct himself or herself as a pupil in accordance with the written policy on school behavior adopted by the local board of education and documented by the appropriate school official which conduct may result in the suspension of the pupil, shall be reported by the principal to the Superintendent of Education of the school system in which the suspected violation occurred. The Superintendent of Education or his or her designee shall report suspected violations to the district attorney within 10 days. Any principal or Superintendent of Education or his or her designee intentionally failing to report a suspected violation shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor. The district attorney shall vigorously enforce this section to ensure proper conduct and required attendance by any child enrolled in public school.”
The Board, pursuant to guidelines established by the State Board of Education, shall establish educational programs to inform parents of school children of their education-related responsibilities to their children. The programs shall include, but shall not be limited to, coverage of each of the following topics:
(1) The criminal liability and criminal sanctions parents may be subject to under Section 16-28-12 of the Code of Alabama 1975, for failing to compel their child to properly conduct himself or herself as a pupil, or failing to ensure that their child attends school or enrolls in school.
(2) The necessity for a parent to monitor and supervise the schoolwork and educational activities of the child.
(3) An explanation of the responsibilities of teachers and the school system to a child, and an enumeration of those matters that are strictly the responsibility of the parent.
(4) Techniques and suggestions to enable a parent to best supervise the schoolwork and educational activities of the child.
(Revised May 1, 1995)
(5) An explanation of the interrelationship of the family life of a child and the educational achievement of the child.
The State Board of Education and the Board shall develop strategies to ensure that parents of school children receive this information. These strategies may include provisions for weekend meetings, one-to-one conferences, telephone communications, and neighborhood meetings.
Local district attorneys and law enforcement officials shall, at the request of the Board, assist in the implementation and operations of these regulations.
(Ref: Ala. Code 16-28-2.2, 16-28-12, 16-28-3, 16-1-24.1)
All children enrolled in Blount County Schools, whether compulsory school age or not, are subject to school attendance and truancy laws of the State of Alabama. All cases of non-enrollment or non-attendance will be investigated by the Blount County Board of Education Attendance Officer. In cases where there is no valid reason for absence, the attendance officer will give written notice to the parent, guardian, or other person having control of the child to require attendance of the child within three days of the date of the notice. If the absence is found to be without valid excuse or reason and intentional, the attendance officer shall be required to bring criminal prosecution against the parent, guardian, or other person having control of the child.
(16-28-16 Code of Alabama Effective July 1, 2000.)
The Board shall not tolerate truancy or the habitual and unlawful absence from school. In accordance with state attendance laws, habitual absences shall be investigated and dealt with by the principal or attendance officer. The parent or legal guardian is responsible for requiring any student under his or her control or charge and under seventeen (17) years of age to attend school regularly except for legal absences as defined by Alabama School Law and State Board of Education rules and regulations. When students have at least three unexcused absences from school per school year, they must be reported by a designated school official to the school system attendance officer as directed by the Superintendent of Education. If a student becomes truant, the parent or legal guardian of said student may be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to punishment by law. For purposes of determining unexcused days absent from school, each three unexcused tardies to school/unexcused checkouts from school during each school year shall be considered as one unexcused absence from school in determining students to be truant. A reported unexcused absence due to three unexcused tardies/checkouts will not be recorded as an unexcused absence in the Teacher’s Attendance Register. Students will be counted present in attendance at school on all days for which they are present at least one-half of the school day regardless of whether they are late to school, leave school early, or leave and return to school during the same school day.
Parents/guardians are responsible for enrolling their children in school and assuring their children attend school and obey behavior policies set by the Board. Parents/guardians who fail to enroll or assure attendance and proper behavior of their children may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and fined up to $500 or sentenced to hard labor for the county for a period not to exceed 12 months or both. If a parent/guardian files a written statement in court to the effect that he/she is unable to control his/her child, that student may then be subject to action of the juvenile court, which will determine whether said student is a dependent, neglected, or delinquent child.