School District of Haverford Township
Student Attendance Guide
Guidelines for Student Attendance and Truancy Elimination
Department of Pupil Services and Special Education
Regular school attendance is important for academic success. When students are absent, they miss valuable information and lessons that are necessary to meet academic success. Families, schools and communities must work as a team to support school attendance.. Nothing can accomplish more positive results more quickly than the collaborative efforts of parents, schools, community working together on behalf of children. Not only is school attendance necessary for achievement, student safety and accountability, regular attendance is required by Pennsylvania State law and the policies of the School District of Haverford Township:
The Board of Education requires that school-aged pupils enrolled in the schools of the district attend school regularly in accordance with the laws of the State. The educational program offered by the district is predicated upon the presence of the pupil and requires continuity of instruction and classroom participation.
Attendance shall be required of all students enrolled in the schools during the days and hours the school is in session, except that a principal or teacher may excuse a student for temporary absences when s/he receives satisfactory evidence of such mental, physical, or other urgent conditions which may reasonably cause the student’s absence. SDHTPolicy 204
What AreExcused Absences?
Ø Death in the student’s immediate family
Ø Danger to heath from serious exposure
Ø Recovery from accident
Ø Required court attendance
Ø Illness of the student(A doctor’s certificate is required for a student absence of 5 days or longer)
Ø Observance of areligious holiday
Ø Medical reasons such as a doctor’s appointment
When a student returns to school after an absence, a note should be sent with him/her to the teacher. This note should include the date(s) of the absence and the reason. A doctor’s certificate should be provided for medical appointments scheduled during the school day.
What Are Unexcused Absences?
When school-aged students are absent from school with or without parental approval for reasons such as:
Ø Doing errands
Ø Cutting classes
Ø Job hunting
Adhering to the attendance procedures consistently helps send a clear message to students and parents that the School District of Haverford Township values student attendance. While parents may perceive these measures as punitive, they provide a means to intervene and eliminate barriers to school attendance.
Please refer to your building handbook for policies regarding missed work due to excused and unexcused absences.
SAP - Student Assistance Programs
Parents are frequently the first to recognize that their child has a problem with emotions or behaviors. The decision to seek help from any agency, therapist or school professional can be difficult and intimidating. A Student Assistance Program (SAP) that is well known in a district can be a significant resource for parents and students. SAPs deal with at-risk students on a daily basis. The behaviors that might indicate a problem are often seen in school and they may not mimic behaviors seen outside the school. Significant behaviors include a change in school performance, school rule violations that result in detentions or suspensions and truancy or refusal to attend school. The Student Assistance program is designated H.E.A.R.T.
Referral sources to HEART are often teachers, administrators, counselors and other school staff. Parents may also refer their child for help. The HEART process is an efficient and effective way to begin accessing needed services. In most schools, the student assistance process starts with observations regarding student behavior. Following a summary of the behaviors, a HEART team may choose to conduct an intervention. At the conclusion of the intervention, an assessment is usually offered to further establish both the nature of the concern as well as treatment modalities and other sources of help. HEART also provides follow-up, after care and continuing support for the student.
Truancy can be a sign that alcohol and other drug issues are present, that there are mental health issues needing to be addressed, that academic concerns have become overwhelming, that peer pressure or bullying may be in evidence or that other issues dealing with culture, family or the individual need to be addressed. HEART is designed to help children be successful in school and their communities.
Truancy programs, local police, juvenile justice, community agencies and schools all need to work together – and with the parents– to ensure students are attending school. They also need to coordinate efforts to facilitate the delivery of remedial, therapeutic, academic and support services for the student and his/her family as appropriate. Another responsibility is to ensure that those services are monitored and adjusted as necessary to guarantee that student success is forthcoming and that the desire to complete one’s education becomes part of the student’s pattern of behavior (Pennsylvania Truancy Toolkit).
Attendance and Students with Special Needs
The School District of Haverford Township provides homebound instruction to students who are unable to attend school for an extended period of time due to an illness, physical disability, or psychological disability. Eligible students receive one hour of instruction each week for required courses. Additional work to be completed is typically provided for the student to complete between homebound sessions. Pennsylvania School regulations provide for homebound instruction according to the following:
Upon receipt of satisfactory evidence of medical, physical, or other urgent reasons, a child may be excused for nonattendance during a temporary period, but the term "urgent reasons" shall be strictly construed and shall not permit irregular attendance… Temporary excusals shall not exceed three months.
The student should be involved with the physician or psychiatrist on a continuing basis for treatment, which includes planning to re-involve the student in school.
If a child’s disability is expected to be long term, students may be referred for an evaluation for services under the Individuals with Disability Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Basic education Circular 24 P.S. 13-1327Compulsory Attendance and Truancy Elimination Plans
- A hand written absence note must be submitted to the teacher/building attendance clerk within 3 school days following an absence. Any absence that is not excused by a parent/guardian in writing within 3 school days will be considered unlawful. All absences in PowerSchool will default to unexcused until a written note is received.
- A concerned attendance letter will be sent to parents/guardians after the third unlawful via certified mail absence(s) during each school year.
- Following the 3rd unlawful absence, the district will coordinate a school-family conference to discuss truancy and develop a Truancy Elimination Plan. For more information about what happens at a Truancy Elimination Plan, please read the enclosed pamphlet.
- After the 6th unlawful absence, and every subsequent one, the district will refer the student to the District Magistrate or Children and Youth. Students with more than 6 unlawful absences are deemed habitually truant which may result in a referral to Children and Youth Services.
EXCESSIVE ABSENTEEISM- excused
- The district will require a doctor’s note after a student has missed 10 days, regardless of whether or not the previous absences have been excused. Absences for educational trips, surgery, illness, doctor’s appointments, bereavement, etc. are all included in the 10-day limit. If a doctor’s note is not provided for each absence after a student has exceeded their 10-day limit, then each day will become unlawful.
- Every attempt should be made to schedule medical and dental appointments at times other than the school day. However, if it is necessary that a student leave school early or arrive to school late to attend a medical/dental appointment, the district may request a doctor’s note that is original and contains the student’s name, the date and time that the student was present in the office, and the doctor’s name and phone number. A student who has an excused medical/dental appointment during school hours is to attend school until the time of the appointment, allowing travel time, and return to school after the appointment. If there is a medical reason that prevents a student from returning to school, this should be indicated on the doctor’s note.
Concerned attendance letter- will be automatically generated through Power School following 3rd unlawful, 6th unlawful, each subsequent unlawful absence:
DailyAttendance procedures –Elementary
Teacher will take daily attendance
Students give absence note to teacher. Teacher sends to office the day they are received.
Medical Building Assistant changes absence to “excused” when notes are received
Notes need to be returned within 3 school days of a student’s return to school
Medical Building Assistant will run report in power school and generate letters for unlawful absences and place in envelopes
Building secretary will send letters.
The following process should be followed prior to any attendance letter being sent to a parent:
Attendance procedures - Elementary:
· Teacher makes the first contact with parent regarding attendance or tardiness.
· Counselor makes the second contact should attendance or lateness not improve.
· Principal makes the third contact where there is no improvement.
· Principal or designee sends attendance letter
Attendance Procedures- Middle School
Daily Attendance procedure
Teachers will take attendance
HMS will send Global Connect message to absentees
Students turn excuse notes into office
Weekly Attendance Procedure
Grade level secretary runs report, generates letters and sends to parents.
Copy of second letter (after 6 unlawful absences) is copied to Home and School Visitor
Home and School Visitor meets with family to discuss attendance
· Creation of plan for each individual case
o Phone conference- Home and School Visitor and Principal
o Parent meeting/ Truancy Elimination Plan- Home and School Visitor, others as needed
o Citation filed for District Court- Home and School Visitor
o Home visit- Home and School Visitor/School Resource Officer
o Coordination and referral to community resources- Home and School Visitor
· Follow case through District Court-Home and School Visitor
Attendance Procedures- High School
· Automated phone call home for every student absence daily- Attendance Aide
· Automated phone call home on the fourth day following an unexcused absence reminding parents that the absence may become unexcusable the following day
· Bimonthly printout of all students that have three or more unexcused absences
· Bimonthly meeting of home and School Visitor and Grade level principals to review student list
· Creation of plan to move forward foreach individual case
§ Follow up letter for students over 17
§ Three day warning letter
§ phone conference – HSV
§ Parent meeting- HSV
§ Citation filed for District court-HSV
§ Home visit- HSV/School ResourceOffice
§ Coordination and referral to community resources- HSV
§ Follow case through District Court-HSV