Williamsville Central School District

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Attendance

Adoption Date: 7/7/2009, Revised: 5/24/2011
7000 - Students

7110 COMPREHENSIVE STUDENT ATTENDANCE POLICY

Statement of Overall Objectives

The Williamsville Board of Education ("Board") is committed to providing students the opportunity to attend a safe and orderly school environment where they will receive a quality educational program. School attendance is both a right and a responsibility. The Board is an active partner with students and parents in the task of ensuring that all students meet or exceed New York State Learning Standards. Because the Board recognizes that consistent school attendance, academic success, and school completion have a positive correlation, the Board as developed, reviewed and, if necessary, will revise the Comprehensive Student Attendance Policy to meet the following objectives. The Board has made the commitment to:

  1. Maintain adequate attendance records, in accordance with New York State Education Department guidelines, on each of its school-age pupils, K through 12, in order to ensure that each student maximizes achievement of academic standards;
  2.  Increase school completion for all students;
  3.  Identify general attendance patterns in order to design attendance improvement  efforts;
  4.  Ensure students' whereabouts can be accounted for throughout the school day;
  5.  Identify patterns of student behavior that may require student and/or parental attention;
  6.  Determine the District's average daily attendance for State aid purposes.
Description of Strategies to Meet Objectives

The District will:

  1. Create and maintain a positive school building culture by fostering a positive physical and psychological environment where the presence of strong adult role models encourages respectful and nurturing interactions between adults and students. This positive school culture is aimed at encouraging a high level of student bonding to the school, which in turn should lead to increased attendance.
  2. Develop a Comprehensive Student Attendance Policy based upon the recommendations of a multifaceted District Policy Development Team that includes representation from the Board of Education, administrators, teachers, students, parents and the community. The District will hold at least one (1) public hearing prior to the adoption of this collaboratively developed Comprehensive Student Attendance Policy.
  3. Maintain accurate recordkeeping via a Register of Attendance to record attendance, absence, tardiness and early departure of each student.
  4. Utilize data analysis systems for tracking individual student attendance individual patterns and group trends in student attendance problems.
  5. Develop and engage in early intervention strategies to improve school attendance for all students.
  6. Communicate to students and parents areas of concern as well as positive trends.
Determination of Excused and Unexcused Absences, Tardiness and Early Departures

Based upon our District's education and community needs, values and priorities, the District has determined that absences, tardiness and early departures will be considered excused or unexcused according to the following standards.

  1. Excused:  An absence, tardiness or early departure may be excused if due to personal illness, illness or death in the family, impassable roads due to inclement weather, religious observance, participation in "Take Your Child to Work Day", quarantine, required court appearances, attendance at health clinics, approved college visits, approved cooperative work programs, military obligations, late bus, school-sponsored fieldtrips, school endorsed, but non-school sponsored, activities with a bona fide educational purpose and a direct relationship to the student's current course schedule to include NYSBDA, NYSSMA, Honor Ensembles, State level FBLA and DECA competitions and officer meetings; and Sectional, Regional, State and National Athletic Competitions for individual athletes, or other such reasons as may be approved by the Board of Education.
  2. Unexcused:  An absence, tardiness or early departure is considered unexcused if the reason for the lack of attendance does not fall into the above categories (e.g., family vacation, hunting, babysitting, hair cut, obtaining learner's permit, road test, oversleeping, missed bus, private instruction or other.)
Every student is to attend school for instruction for the entire time that it is in session, unless there is an excused reason for not attending school. Any absence not included as excused is considered unexcused. Each absence must be accounted for. A written explanation of absence, signed by the parent/guardian, must be presented by the student following each absence within three days of the student's return to school. Absences without such explanation will be classified as unexcused absences after three school days. Please note that educational activities directly tied to classroom instruction and determined to be part of the educational program which involve the participation of an entire class (i.e., an English class attending a Shakespearean play), shall not be considered to be an absence for the purpose of period-by-period attendance. The student, in this case, shall be marked as present. The student shall be noted to be absent, however, from all other affected classes. In these cases, an excused absence shall be recorded, for which opportunities to make up missed work shall be provided. In addition, such absence shall not be taken into consideration when a student's attendance history is under administrative review due to chronic tardiness or absence from school.

Student Attendance Recordkeeping/Data Collection

The record of each student's presence, absence, tardiness and early departure shall be kept in a register of attendance in a manner consistent with Commissioner's Regulations. An absence, tardiness or early departure will be entered as "excused" or "unexcused" along with the District code for the reason.

 Attendance shall be taken and recorded in accordance with the following:

  1. For students in non-departmentalized kindergarten through grade four (i.e., self-contained classrooms and supervised group movement to other scheduled school activities such as physical education in the gym, assembly, etc.), such student's presence or absence shall be recorded after the taking of attendance once per school day.
  2.  For students in grades 5 through 12 or in departmentalized schools at any grade level (i.e., students pass individually to different classes throughout the day), each student's presence or absence shall be recorded after the taking of attendance in each period of scheduled instruction except that where students do not change classrooms for each period of scheduled instruction, attendance shall be taken in accordance with paragraph "a" above.
  3.  Any absence for a school day or portion thereof shall be recorded as excused or unexcused in accordance with the standards articulated in this policy.
  4.  In the event that a student at any instructional level from grades K through 12 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 this policy.
A record shall be kept of each scheduled day of instruction during which the school is closed for all or part of the day because of extraordinary circumstances including adverse weather conditions, impairment of heating facilities, insufficiency of water supply, shortage of fuel, destruction of or damage to a school building, or such other cause as may be found satisfactory to the Commissioner of Education.

Attendance records shall also indicate the date when a student withdraws from enrollment or is dropped from enrollment in accordance with Education Law Section 3202(1-a).

At the conclusion of each class period or school day, all attendance information shall be compiled and provided to the designated school personnel who are responsible for attendance. The nature of the absence, tardiness or early departure shall be coded on a student's record in accordance with the established District/building procedures.

Student Attendance/Course Credit

The District believes that classroom participation is related to and affects a student's performance and grasp of the subject matter and, as such, may be properly reflected in a student's final grade. For purposes of this policy, classroom participation means that a student is in class and prepared to work.

Consequently, for each marking period a certain percentage of a student's final grade may be based on classroom participation as well as the student's performance on homework, tests, papers, projects, etc. as determined by the building administrator and/or classroom teacher.

Students are expected to attend all scheduled classes. Consistent with the importance of classroom participation, unexcused student absences, tardiness, and early departures may affect a student's grade, including credit for classroom participation, for the marking period.

Students will be considered in attendance if the student is:

  1. Physically present in the classroom or working under the direction of the classroom teacher during the class scheduled meeting time; or
  2.  Working pursuant to an approved independent study program; or
  3.  Receiving approved alternative instruction.
Students who are absent from class due to their participation in a school sponsored activity are to arrange with their teachers to make up any work missed in a timely manner as determined by the student's teacher. Attendance at school sponsored events where instruction is substantially equivalent to the instruction which was missed shall be counted as the equivalent of regular attendance in class.

Upon returning to school following a properly excused absence, tardiness or early departure, it shall be the responsibility of the student to consult with his/her teacher(s) regarding arrangements to make up missed work, assignments and/or tests in accordance with the time schedule specified by the teacher.

Makeup Opportunities

Students who have an excused absence shall be given reasonable time to make up assignments missed during their absence. When necessary and applicable, assignments may be sent home and teachers shall be available to render necessary assistance. Students whose misconduct is directly related to the student's academic performance (e.g., plagiarism) may be denied the opportunity to make up work.

It is the student's responsibility to request all makeup assignments from subject teachers following absence from class. The student must request assignments early enough to allow adequate time for completion prior to the end of the marking quarter.

Intervention Strategies

In order to ensure that parents/persons in parental relation and students are informed of the District's policy regarding attendance, and the implementation of specific intervention strategies to be employed, the following guidelines shall be followed:

  1. Copies of the District's Comprehensive Student Attendance Policy will be mailed to parents/persons in parental relation and provided to students at the beginning of each school year or at the time of enrollment in the District.
  2.  School newsletters and publications will include periodic reminders of the components of the District's Comprehensive Student Attendance Policy. Copies of the Attendance Policy will also be included in parent/student handbooks.
  3.  At periodic intervals, a designated staff member(s) will notify, by telephone, the parent/person in parental relation of the student's absence, tardiness, or early departure and explain the relationship of the student's attendance to his/her ability to receive course credit. If the parent/person in parental relation cannot be reached by telephone, a letter shall be sent detailing this information.
  4.  A designated staff member will review the District's Attendance Policy with students who have excessive and/or unexcused absences, tardiness or early departures. Further, appropriate student support services/personnel within the District, as well as the possible collaboration/referral to community support services and agencies.
Notice of Students who are Absent, Tardy or Depart Early Without Proper Excuse

A designated staff member shall notify by telephone the parent/person in parental relation to a student who is absent, tardy or departs early without proper excuse. The staff member shall explain the District's   Comprehensive   Student   Attendance   Policy, the District's/building  level intervention procedures, and, if appropriate, the relationship between student attendance and academic success. If the parent/person in parental relation cannot be reached by telephone, the staff member will provide such notification by mail. Further, the District's Attendance Policy will be mailed to the parent/person in parental relation to promote awareness and help ensure compliance with the policy.

If deemed necessary by appropriate school officials, or if requested by the parent/person in parental relation, a school conference shall be scheduled between the parent/person in parental relation and appropriate staff members in order to address the student's attendance. The student may also be requested to attend this conference in order to address appropriate intervention strategies that best meet the needs of the student.

Disciplinary Consequences

Absences, tardiness and early departures may result in disciplinary sanctions as described in the District's Code of Conduct. Consequences may include, but are not limited to, in-school suspension, detention and denial of participation in interscholastic and extracurricular activities. Parents/persons in parental relation will be notified by designated District personnel at periodic intervals to discuss their child's chronic absences, tardiness or early departures and the importance of class attendance and appropriate interventions. Individual buildings/grade levels will address procedures to implement the notification process to the parent/person in parental relation.

Appeal Process

A parent/person in parental relation may request a building level review of their child's attendance record.

Building Review of Attendance Records

The Building Principal will work in conjunction with the building attendance clerk and other designated staff in reviewing attendance records at the end of each term. This review is conducted to identify individual and group attendance patterns and to initiate appropriate action to address the problem of unexcused absences, tardiness and early departures.

Annual Review by the Board of Education

The Board of Education shall annually review the building level student attendance records and if such records show a decline in student attendance, the Board shall make any revisions to the Policy and plan deemed necessary to improve student attendance.

Community Awareness

The Board of Education shall promote necessary community awareness of the District's Comprehensive Student Attendance Policy by:

  1. Providing a plain language summary of the policy to parents or persons in parental relation to students at the beginning of each school year and promoting the understanding of such a policy to students and their parents/persons in parental relation;
  2.  Providing each teacher, at the beginning of the school year or upon employment, with  a copy of the policy; and
  3.  Providing copies of the policy to any other member of the community upon request.
Student Dismissal Precautions

No student may be released from school to anyone other than the parent, guardian or child protective services personnel and law enforcement officers pursuant to law, unless the individual's name seeking release of the student appears on a list provided by the parent or guardian, or the request can be confirmed by the school.

Parents are urged to make appointments with physicians, special tutors, etc., after school hours. If a request is necessary, parents should make note of the date, time and reason for the release. The written request from the parent or guardian for the early release of a student on a particular day and date will be honored. The appropriate time and reason for the early release shall be recorded in the attendance record.

A student may be released to either parent unless a custodial parent supplies the Superintendent of Schools with a certified copy of a court order or divorce decree to the contrary.

The Building Principal or designee shall review and act on all explanations and requests.

Released Time for Religious Instruction

Students registered for classes in religious instruction shall be permitted to leave the school building in sufficient time to attend such classes on one afternoon of each week upon the signed request of the student's parent.

In order to be released for such instruction, but in no event for more than one hour a week, students must be registered for a course and a copy filed with the building principal. Students who are excused must report promptly to their religious school. Reports of religious school attendance shall be filed with the principal weekly.

The time for release for religious instruction shall be arranged by the Superintendent of Schools in keeping with the regulations of the Commissioner. He/she will also assure the appropriate continuance of the instructional program in the public schools during such released time.

Education Law Sections 3024, 3025, 3202, 3205, 3206, 3210, 3211 and 3213

8 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Sections 104.1, 109.2 and 175.6

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