The Board of Education of the Fort Plain Central School District recognizes that student attendance in school is an important component of student success. Student interaction with teachers and other students in class helps to enhance the academic learning experience and provides a basis by which students can demonstrate mastery of subject matter.
In this regard and pursuant to Section 104.1 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, the Board of Education adopts this Comprehensive Attendance Policy, containing the following components:
- Overall objectives of the policy
- Specific strategies to accomplish these objectives
- Excused vs. unexcused student absences and tardiness
- Coding system identifying reasons for absence or tardiness
- Student attendance and course credit
- Incentives and disciplinary sanctions
- Notice to parents or persons in parental relation
- Intervention strategies to identify patterns of student absence or tardiness
- Parties responsible for student attendance in each school
- Annual review of policy by the board
All staff will be provided with a copy of the Comprehensive Attendance Policy and any amendment to such policy within five (5) school days following initial adoption or amendment of the policy. New staff members shall receive a copy of the Comprehensive Attendance Policy upon commencement of employment with the District.
The Board of Education shall promote community awareness of this District Comprehensive Attendance Policy by providing a plain language summary of the policy to the parents/guardians of students at the beginning of each school year or upon each student’s entrance into the district, and taking such other steps deemed necessary to promote the understanding of such policy by students and their parents/guardians. Copies of the complete Comprehensive Attendance Policy shall be available in the District central office and in each school building and will be provided to any member of the community upon request.
Overall Objectives of the Policy
The major objectives of the Comprehensive Attendance Policy in the Fort Plain Central School District are to:
- ensure sufficient pupil attendance at all scheduled periods of actual instruction or supervised study activities to permit such pupils to succeed at meeting the State learning standards.
- to establish a healthy learning environment which teaches a strong work ethic through regular attendance.
- ensure the maintenance of an adequate record verifying the attendance of all children at instruction in accordance with Education Law.
- establish a practical mechanism for each school in the District to account to the parents/guardians of students enrolled in the school for the whereabouts of such children throughout each school day.
Specific Strategies to Accomplish These Objectives
The Board of Education charges the Superintendent or designee to develop a system of pupil attendance record keeping in each school in a register of attendance that shall provide an accurate record of each pupil’s presence, absence, tardiness and early departure. The register of attendance shall set forth the following for each pupil: name, date of birth, full names of parents/guardians, address where the pupil resides, phone numbers where the parents/guardians may be contacted, date of the pupil’s enrollment, and a record of the pupil’s attendance on each day of scheduled instruction.
The teacher of the class in which the pupil is enrolled shall make all entries in the register of attendance. The entries in the register of attendance shall be verified by the oath or affirmation of the individual making the entries in the register of attendance. The building principals shall have the responsibility of supervising the keeping of the register of attendance. The building principal shall also be charged with reviewing pupil attendance records periodically for the purpose of initiating appropriate action pursuant to Section IX of this policy to address unexcused pupil absence, tardiness and early departure.
Beginning in the 2002-2003 school year, attendance in each school building shall be recorded as follows:
Harry Hoag Elementary
- In Kindergarten through Grade 4, attendance will be taken once per school day.
- In grades 5 through 6 attendance will be taken in each period of scheduled instruction.
Junior-Senior High School
- In the grades 7 through 12, attendance will be taken at the beginning of each scheduled period of instruction.
Any absence for a school day or portion thereof shall be recorded as excused or unexcused in accordance with the standards articulated in Section III of this policy. In the event that a pupil at any instructional level arrives late for or departs early from scheduled instruction, such tardiness or early departure shall be recorded as excused or unexcused in accordance with the standards articulated in Section III of this policy.
Excused vs. Unexcused Absences and Tardiness
The following reasons for pupil absences, tardiness and early departure shall be considered by the Board of Education to be excused:
- Death in the immediate family
- Religious observance
- Medical appointments*
- Required court appearances*
- Participation in a school-sponsored activity
- Pre-approved individual education trip
*A doctor’s note or legal/court document must be submitted to be considered an excused absence.
Any other pupil absence, tardiness or early departure is considered by the Board of Education to be unexcused. Family vacations will not be considered an excused absence. Each absence, tardiness and early departure will be accounted for by the teacher in the register of attendance and shall be entered as excused or unexcused.
It is the responsibility of the parents/guardians to notify the office by telephone on the morning of the absence, tardiness, or early departure as to the reason for such absence, tardiness or early departure. Besides oral notification, it is required that parents/guardians provide a written excuse within five (5) school days containing the date of the absence, tardiness or early departure and reason for such. If a note is not received within five (5) days the absence will be marked unexcused.
Coding System Identifying Reasons for Absence or Tardiness
A uniform coding system will be used to record pupil absences, tardies and/or early departures. This system will identify the reason for such absences, tardies or early departures. These will be assumed to be unexcused until the attendance officer receives written documentation that verifies that such an excused absence, tardiness or early departure is excused. The attendance officer or designee will use the same attendance codes.
The attendance officer or designee will record the time of entry of a student due to tardiness to school and the time of exit due to early departure. It will be the responsibility of the classroom teacher to record the time of entry due to tardiness to class.
Along with coding for whether an absence, tardiness or early departure is excused or unexcused and, if excused, the reason for such, the teacher will record the time of entry of a student due to tardiness and the time of exit of a student due to early departure.
Student Attendance Procedure
The Board of Education recognizes that regular attendance in classes is essential to the total learning process. Although some class absence may be unavoidable, each student is expected to make every effort to attend each assigned class. The underlying rationale for an attendance policy that denies course credit for non-attendance is based on recognition of the vital role classroom attendance and participation plays in academic achievement.
Attendance Policy for Students in Grades K-6
The implementation of the attendance policy will be as follows:
- The attendance aide will provide the building principal and the school counselor with weekly updates of students who have accumulated 5, 10, 15 or 20 absences.
- Any and all absences must be accompanied by a note from the parent or physician.
- After the 10th absence from school, the building principal will send a letter home to advise the parent/guardian of the situation, with a copy forwarded to the teacher.
- After the 15th absence from school, the building principal will telephone the parent/guardian and meet with the student, if appropriate, to discuss the record of absences. A letter will be sent to follow-up on the conversation, copy of which will be sent to the teachers.
- After the 20th absence from school, the building principal will request a meeting with the parent/guardian and the student, if appropriate, to discuss this issue. The classroom teacher will be invited to attend this meeting. A letter will be sent to summarize and reinforce the concerns.
- A student, who continues to be absent from school, may at this time be referred to the court system and/or Child Protective Services (CPS).
- The issue of attendance will be weighed in the determination of grade level placement for the following school year.
- This attendance policy is not intended to encourage students to come to school when they are sick. Parents/guardians are asked to use their judgment in determining attendance at the time of their child’s illness.
- Refer to Section III Excused vs Unexcused Absences and Tardiness.
Attendance Policy for Students in Grades 7-12
Any student absent from a class more than thirty (30) days for a forty week course and fifteen (15) days for a twenty week course for any reason, including legal and illegal absences, may be denied the opportunity to take examinations for that course, as determined by the Building Level Attendance Committee.
A student will be regarded as absent to class under this section of the policy if he/she misses more that fifteen (15) minutes of class due to tardiness and/or early departure.
In-school suspension, during which the student is doing work related to his/her particular classes, and out-of-school suspension, when the student takes advantage of alternate educational services provided by the District, will not count as absences from class under this section of the policy.
Implementation of this attendance policy will be as follows:
- The Building Level Attendance Committee will be provided monthly updates of students who have accumulated 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 absences from the Attendance Officer.
- After the 10th absence from school in a forty-week course or 5th absence from school in a twenty-week course, the student’s teacher will submit a Student Attendance Report (See Appendix) which lists the specific dates of absences from each class. The building principal will send a letter home advising the parent/guardian of the situation, and of the need to make up missed work.
- After the 20th absence in a forty-week course or 10th absence in a twenty-week course, the student’s teacher will submit a Student Attendance Report (See Appendix) which lists the specific dates of absences from each class. The building principal will send a letter home notifying the parent/guardian of the situation. The building principal will schedule a meeting with the parent/guardian, student and the school counselor. The discussion will include the poor attendance pattern with the student and indicate the possible loss of opportunity to take examinations in that course should absence continue.
- After the 30th absence in a forty-week course and 15th absence in a twenty-week course, the student’s teacher will submit a Student Attendance Report form (See Appendix) which lists the specific dates of absences from each class. Parents will be notified by registered mail. The Attendance Review Committee will convene within ten (10) school days from the date the letter was sent to review the student’s complete attendance record. The parent/guardian and student will be invited to the meeting. The student’s teacher will also be invited to the meeting.
- If the Attendance Review Committee decides to deny credit, the parent/guardian will be contacted directly by the building principal, followed by written documentation.
- The Attendance Review Committee, in conjunction with the student’s teachers, may offer the student the opportunity to enter into an Attendance Improvement Contract (See Appendix).
When the student reaches fifteen (15) absences in a half-year course or thirty (30) absences in a full year course, the Committee will invite the parent/guardian to an attendance review meeting. The student may be offered the opportunity to complete an Attendance Improvement Contract. This contract will reduce the total absence of the student by two (2) days. To fulfill the contract, the student must meet with the teacher and complete course work that is equivalent to two (2) class periods. The teacher will be notified in writing of the contract. When the contract between the teacher and student is completed the building principal will be notified. The opportunity to enter into an Attendance Improvement Contract will be offered only one time per course.
- After the Attendance Review Committee has made a determination the student or parent/guardian can appeal the decision in writing to the Superintendent of Schools.
Attendance Policy for Students Taking Courses for College Credit
Any student taking a college credit-bearing class in Fort Plain will be subject to the attendance criteria set by the college or university. This college policy supersedes Fort Plain’s attendance policy. This policy is only applicable to those seeking college credit. High school credit is subject to the same provisions as all other courses in the school district.
Generally, in a full year course, the student is allowed ten (10) absences, for any reason. In a half-year course, the student is allowed five (5) absences for any reason. However this may vary for different course.
The student will be informed of this policy in writing by the teachers of the college course at the beginning of the school year. It is the student’s responsibility to share this information with his/her parent.
After the 5th absence in a full year course, and the 3rd absence in a half-year course, the teacher will inform the attendance officer of the total number of absences for that student. A letter will be sent home to the parent/guardian requesting a conference with the student, parent/guardian and teacher.
Upon reaching the allotted number of absences for a full year or half-year course points will be deducted from a student’s final course grade (as dictated by the college or university). College credit may be denied for the course.
Incentives and Disciplinary Sanctions
The Board of Education recognizes that pupil attendance may be positively affected by the use of incentives to encourage pupil attendance and disciplinary sanctions to discourage unexcused pupil absences, tardiness and early departures from school.
In this regard, each school shall make available to pupils the following incentives to promote pupil attendance:
- Free homework pass
- Lunch day with building principal, teacher or superintendent
- Free ice cream, pizza, etc.
- Certificate by various businesses
- Reading day for perfect attendance
- Certificate of recognition for perfect attendance (quarterly with report card)
- Incentives may be subject to change and/or availability
Where it is determined by the school that disciplinary sanctions are necessary to discourage a specific instance of an unexcused pupil absence, tardiness or early departure or a pattern of unexcused absences, tardiness or early departures by a pupil, the following sanctions shall be available for use by the school:
- Parent conference
- Detention program
- According to athletic code
- In-school suspension program
- Additional sanctions as outlined in Section IXB.
Notice to Parents and Guardians
As noted in Section III of this policy, any pupil absence, tardiness or early departure other than those specified in the policy is considered by the Board of Education to be unexcused. It is the responsibility of the parents/guardians to excuse such absence, tardiness or early departure by notifying the office by telephone on the morning of the absence or tardiness or early departure as to the reason for such absence, tardiness or early departure.
Along with the phone call, it is required that parents/guardians provide a written excuse within five (5) school days, which will include the following: date of the absence, tardiness, or early departure and reason for such. The Board of Education will charge the Superintendent or designee with developing a form to be provided to pupils upon their return to school or return to class that will allow parents/guardians to indicate the date(s) of the absence, tardiness or early departure, the reason for such absence, tardiness or early departure, and the signature of the parent/guardian.
The school may accept the form completed by the parent/guardian or a handwritten note from the parent/guardian containing information about the pupil absence, tardiness or early departure similar to that found on the District form.
If proper written excuse for the pupil absence, tardiness or early departure is not received by the school from the parent/guardian after three (3) school days, a telephone call will be made from the school to the parent/guardian notifying him/her of the need for proper excuse of their pupil’s absence, tardiness or early departure. The pupil will also be given an absence form to take home or one will be mailed home to be completed by parent/guardian.
Intervention Strategies to Identify Patterns of Student Absence or Tardiness
The Board of Education understands that in order to increase overall district attendance and pupil attendance in each school building, it is important to develop a process by which teachers and other school employees can readily identify patterns of unexcused pupil absence, tardiness or early departure and can employ specific intervention strategies in an attempt to change such patterns.
The school district will direct each building to establish an Attendance Review Committee, which will be charged with monitoring pupil attendance and determining and addressing specific patterns of unexcused pupil absence, tardiness or early departure in each building.
Each committee will meet monthly and will identify specific pupils with patterns of unexcused absences, tardiness or early departure and the intervention strategies to be employed by teachers and other school staff to address these patterns. Minutes of each meeting of this committee shall be kept by the building principal or designee and shall be sent to the Superintendent for his/her information and review, and such information shall be summarized and provided to the board as part of the superintendent’s written quarterly report on attendance.
Parties Responsible for Student Attendance in Each School
Based on the recommendation of the committee, the building principal shall be charged by the Board of Education to be the person responsible for reviewing pupil attendance records and initiating appropriate actions at the building level to address unexcused pupil absence, tardiness and early departure consistent with the comprehensive attendance policy of the district.
A. Make-up of the Attendance Review Committee
The Attendance Review Committee is composed of the building principals, school counselors, school nurse, and teachers. Three (3) teachers (a representative from each level, K-4, 5-8, 9-12) will be selected by the Teachers’ Association.
B. Function of the Attendance Review Committee
The Attendance Review Committee will meet annually to review district attendance policy with the goal of improving attendance district wide.
C. Make-up of the Building Level Attendance Committee
The make-up of the Building Level Committee is recommended to include the building principal, school counselor, nurse, conduct coordinator, attendance officer and teacher representatives.
D. Function of the Build Level Attendance Committee
The Building Level Attendance Committee will establish a regular meeting schedule so that absences and course credit issues can be dealt with in a timely fashion. Other actions by the committee may include:
- Recommend elimination of the right to take examinations
- Recommend guidance counseling
- Recommend administrative intervention via letter, telephone call, etc.
- Recommend to parents outside services available
- Recommend filing of P.I.N.S. petition/CPS
- Recommend involvement of local police agency
- Invite student to meet with Committee
- Invite parents to meet with Committee
- Use any other options available
- Implement Attendance Improvement Contract
Annual Review of Policy by the Board of Education
The Board of Education shall annually review overall District pupil attendance and the pupil attendance records for each school building. Should such records demonstrate a decline in pupil attendance, the Board shall have the opportunity to amend the comprehensive attendance policy and make any revisions to the plan deemed necessary to improve pupil attendance. The Board shall provide any such amendment to the Comprehensive Attendance Policy in writing to each staff member on the opening day Superintendent’s meeting or within five (5) school days after adoption of the amendment.
- Students who are ill for an extended period of time shall receive home tutoring upon a request by the parent/guardian along with a doctor’s notification of duration of illness and need for the homebound situation.
- Teachers are responsible for reporting individual class absences to the attendance officer in accordance with the aforementioned format for half-year and full-year courses.
- Following a thorough review of the facts, the Attendance Committee will make a determination. The determination may be:
- No cause for action.
- Disciplinary action from reprimand to dropping the student from the class (if student is above the age of compulsory attendance).
- Offer opportunity for an Attendance Improvement Contract between student, parents and class teacher to gain two days of attendance credit by completion of course work agreed upon by instructor and additional before or after school work time with the teacher of the course.
- The Attendance Committee when making a final review of student’s attendance record will consider the following:
- The student’s age. If the student falls within the age of compulsory attendance he/she may not be removed from the class or school attendance. Students above the age of compulsory attendance may be removed from class or school attendance based upon their attendance.
- Student’s behavioral record in class.
- The student’s academic average in the class.
- Teacher recommendation.