I. Student Attendance Policy
Student attendance is a cooperative effort and the School Board shall involve parents and students in accepting the responsibility for good attendance.
Each parent/guardian or person having control or charge of a child within the compulsory attendance age shall be responsible for such child’s regular and punctual attendance at school as required under provisions of the law.
A reasonable effort shall be made to contact a parent/guardian of each absent student every day, and to obtain an explanation for the student’s absence, where there is no indication that the student’s parent is aware of and supports the absence. A log will be kept of call attempts.
Students who are absent must bring a valid note stating the reason for absence upon returning to school. Unexcused absences shall be handled according to regulations issued by the Superintendent.
The Superintendent’s regulations will include procedures for excusing students who are absent by reason of observance of a religious holiday. Such regulations will ensure that a student is not deprived of any award, or of the right to take an alternate test or examination, which he missed by reason of such absence, if the absence is verified in an acceptable manner.
Students shall attend school for a full day unless otherwise excused. Secondary students shall be scheduled for a full school day unless they are enrolled in a cooperative work-study program. All other exceptions to a full day schedule must be approved on an individual basis by the Superintendent or designee.
High school students may spend a maximum of 180 school days each academic year participating in High School to Work Partnerships established pursuant to guidelines developed by the Board of Education. The Superintendent’s regulations will specify that students who miss a partial or full day of school while participating in Partnership programs will not be counted as absent for the purposes of calculating average daily membership. The regulations will also include procedures by which students may make up work missed while participating in a High School to Work Partnership.
Nothing in this policy shall be construed to limit in any way the authority of any attendance officer or the division Superintendent or his designee to seek immediate compliance with the compulsory school attendance law.
II. Compulsory Attendance Procedures
A. Upon Fifth Absence Without Parental Awareness and Support
If (1) a student fails to report to school for a total of five scheduled school days for the school year, and (2) there is no indication that the student’s parent is aware of and supports the absence; and (3) reasonable efforts to notify the parent of the absences have failed, then the principal or his designee or the attendance officer shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that direct contact is made with the parent, either in person or through telephone conversation, to obtain an explanation for the pupil’s absence and to explain to the parent the consequences of continued nonattendance. The school principal or his designee or the attendance officer, the pupil, and the pupil’s parent shall jointly develop a plan to resolve the pupil’s nonattendance. Such plan shall include documentation of the reasons for the pupil’s nonattendance.
B. Upon Sixth Absence Without Parental Awareness and Support
If the pupil is absent an additional day after direct contact with the pupil’s parent and the attendance officer has received no indication that the pupil’s parent is aware of and supports the pupil’s absence, either the school principal or his designee or the attendance officer shall schedule a conference within ten school days, which must take place no later than the fifteenth school day after the sixth absence. At the conference, the pupil, his parent, and school personnel, shall meet to resolve issues related to the pupil’s nonattendance. Other community service providers may also be included in the conference.
C. Upon Additional Absence Without Parental Awareness and Support
Upon the next absence after the conference without indication to the attendance officer that the pupil’s parent is aware of and supports the pupil’s absence, the principal or designee shall notify the attendance officer or Superintendent or his designee who shall enforce the compulsory attendance rules by either or both of the following: (i) filing a complaint with the juvenile and domestic relations court alleging the pupil is a child in need of supervision as defined in § 16.1-228 or (ii) instituting proceedings against the parent pursuant to § 18.2-371 or § 22.1-262. In filing a complaint against the student, the attendance officer shall provide written documentation of the efforts already undertaken to resolve the pupil’s absence. If the student’s parents have joint physical custody of the student and the school has notice of the custody arrangement, then both parents shall be notified at their last known addresses.
D. Parental Cooperation in Remedying Excessive Unexcused Absences
It is expected that parents will cooperate with the attendance officer and other school officials to remedy the student’s attendance problem. Where direct contact with a parent cannot be made, despite reasonable efforts, or where parents otherwise fail to cooperate in remedying the student’s attendance problem, the Superintendent or the Superintendent’s designee may seek immediate compliance with the compulsory school attendance laws. The attendance officer, with the knowledge and approval of the Superintendent, shall institute proceedings against any parent who fails to comply with the requirements of the compulsory attendance laws. Where the complaint arises out of the parent’s failure to comply with the requirements of § 22.1-258, the attendance officer shall document the school division’s compliance with this Code section.
E. If steps A-D have been followed and the student continues the practice of unexcused absences to a total of 18 days for the semester, the principal of the school or his designee may recommend to the Superintendent of schools that the student be dropped from school for the remainder of the semester.
The parent shall be so informed in writing with a copy of the notification sent to the division Superintendent of schools. The Superintendent or his designee will have final authority in determining if the student will be dropped from school.
III. Report for Suspension of Driver’s License
In addition to any other actions taken pursuant to this policy, if a student who is under 18 years of age has 10 or more unexcused absences from school on consecutive school days, the principal, or his designee, may notify the juvenile and domestic relations court, which may take action to suspend the student’s driver’s license.
IV. Attendance Reporting
Student attendance shall be monitored and reported as required by state law and regulations. At the end of each school year, each public school principal shall report to the Superintendent the number of pupils by grade level for whom a conference was scheduled pursuant to Part II (B) above. The Superintendent shall compile this information and provide it annually to the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
V. Dismissal Precautions
Principals shall not release a student during the school day to any person not authorized by the student’s parent/guardian to assume responsibility for the pupil. Students shall be released only on request and authorization of parent or guardian. The Superintendent shall provide procedures for release of pupils who are not residing with or under the supervision of a parent/guardian. The burden of proof on the authority of the person to receive the student is on the requesting party. A formal check-out system shall be maintained in each school.