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5113 Attendance, Absences and Excuses(R)

NORTHFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION FILE CODE: 5113

Northfield, New Jersey X Monitored

X Mandated

Regulations X Other Reasons

ATTENDANCE, ABSENCES, AND EXCUSES

The Northfield Board of Education believes that the regular attendance of students in each class and in school in general is critical to its educational mission. The District shall endeavor to achieve the ninety percent (90%) attendance rate required by the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC). Continuity of instruction is an essential element in student performance and allows students the greatest opportunity to succeed at meeting the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and the Core Curriculum Content Standards. The Superintendent shall oversee the development of effective strategies that maximize student attendance at all scheduled periods of actual instruction or supervised study activities and strive to:

  1. Encourage good attendance;
  2. Discourage unexcused absences;
  3. Identify patterns of absence, tardiness and early departures from school; and
  4. Intervene to prevent and correct problems with attendance.

The educational process requires regular, continuous uninterrupted attendance in school, which shall include classroom participation, instruction and study by all students, regular contact of students with one another and their participation in well-planned, instructional activities, under the tutelage of competent teachers. These are all vital to a thorough educational program. Consequently, there is a responsibility upon parents/guardians and students to attend school regularly because the Board of Education cannot condone unnecessary absences and reasons governing excused absences have been changed by law. Students who miss class excessively do not comply with the conditions prescribed for receiving course credit; therefore, the Northfield Board of Education has determined that it will not issue credit for courses unless students meet the minimum student attendance requirements of the policy.

 

The student attendance policy is adopted pursuant to the authority and responsibility delegated to the Northfield Board of Education by N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 and 26 and N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3.

Attendance

A day in session for the purposes of attendance shall be a day on which the school is open and students are under the guidance and direction of a teacher or teachers engaged in the teaching process. Days on which school is closed for such reasons as holidays, teachers’ institutes and inclement weather shall not be considered as days in session. A school day shall consist of not less than four hours of actual instruction.

A day of attendance shall be one in which a student is present for the full day under the guidance and direction of a teacher while school is in session.

A student shall be recorded as either present, absent, or excused pursuant to the five (5) State recognized reasons for excused absences, every day the school is in session. A student shall be recorded as absent in the school register when not in attendance at a session of school regardless of the reason, except students excused due to the five (5) State recognized reasons for excused absences, who shall be recorded as excused. An absence for any reason other than the five (5) State recognized excused absences shall not be counted as a day of attendance in the school register as ascribed by law.

The mere presence of a student at roll call shall not be regarded as sufficient attendance for compliance with law (N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3—School attendance). In a school which is in session during both the forenoon and the afternoon, a student shall be present at least one hour during both the forenoon and the afternoon in order to be recorded as present for the full day. A student must be present at least one (1) hour during any forenoon or afternoon session to be recorded as present one half day.

In a school which is in session during either the forenoon or the afternoon (half day), a student shall be present at least two hours in the session in order to be recorded as present for the full day. It is not possible to be recorded as present for one half day in a one session day (half day).

A student not present in school because of his or her participation in an approved school activity, such as a field trip, meeting, cooperative education assignment, or athletic competition will be considered to be in attendance.

Excused Absences, Verified-Unexcused Absences, and Unverified-Unexcused Absences

  1. An absence shall be considered an “Excused Absence” for the purposes of daily attendance, determining promotion, retention, truancy, grades, course credit, eligibility to make up missed assignments and tests for full credit and violations for the school Code of Conduct for attendance for the following five (5) State recognized reasons only:
    1. Religious observance
    2. A college visit (only for students in grades 11 and 12)
    3. “Take Our Children to Work Day”
    4. Participation in observance of Veterans Day (N.J.S.A. 18A: 36-13.2) or district board of election membership activities (N.J.S.A. 18A: 36-33)
    5. Closure of a busing district that prevents a student from having transportation to the receiving school

NOTE: All other absences, which are not State recognized Excused Absences according to the above, shall be considered “Unexcused Absences” regardless of the reason or documentation.

  1. Unexcused absences are recorded as either “verified-unexcused’ or “unverified-unexcused.”

 

    1. Verified-unexcused absences do not count towards truancy, eligibility to make up missed assignments and tests for full credit and violations of the school Code of Conduct for attendance. Unexcused absences will be recorded as “verified-unexcused” insofar that the documentation submitted to the school’s main office within ten (10) school days indicates the following:
      1. Student illness (Doctor note is required for all illness absences of three (3) or more consecutive days);
      2. A death or critical illness in the student’s immediate family, or of others with permission of the Principal;
      3. Quarantine;
      4. Court appearance;
      5. Necessary and unavoidable medical or dental appointments that cannot be scheduled at a time other than the school day;
      6. Requirements of a student’s individualized education plan (IEP);
      7. Requirements of a student’s individual health care plan;
      8. Student’s suspension from school;
      9. Alternate short or long term accommodations for students with disabilities;
      10. Such good cause as may be acceptable to Administration.

The district reserves the right, under certain circumstances, to consider an absence unverified-unexcused even though documentation has been provided within ten (10) school days.

    1. Unverified-unexcused absences do not meet the requirements outlined for “excused” or “verified-unexcused.” These absences do count towards determining promotion, retention, truancy, grades, course credit, eligibility to make up missed assignments and tests for full credit and violations of the school Code of Conduct for attendance. Examples of unexcused absences that will be recorded as “unverified-unexcused” include, but are not limited to:
      1. Student illness – parent/guardian provided no documentation or the documentation was not submitted within ten (10) school days;
      2. Family travel;
      3. Performance of household or babysitting duties;
      4. Other daytime activities unrelated to the school program;
      5. Leaving school without permission while school is still in session;

Parental Reporting and Verification of Student Absences

Parents/guardians are responsible for notifying the school prior to 9 A.M. when a child will be absent and for informing the school of the reason for the absence. Every absence (excused or unexcused) must be documented with the Main Office no later than ten (10) school days following the student’s return to school. Any Excused Absence or Verified-Unexcused Absence that is not documented within ten (10) school days will be considered an Unverified-Unexcused Absence.

Documentation of the nature and causes of these absences shall be the responsibility of the student and parent/guardian. The absence of any documented parent/guardian notes, doctor’s notes, and other records that verify that an absence was Excused or Verified-Unexcused according to Board policy, shall be considered an Unverified-Unexcused Absence. Notes from parents/guardians shall be considered but the District may require additional documentation such as doctor’s notes or other official records to verify the note.

Attendance and Instruction

In order for the Board of Education to fulfill its responsibility for providing a thorough and efficient education for each student, the complete cooperation of parents/guardians and students is required to maintain a high level of school attendance.

The frequent absence of students from classroom learning experiences disrupts the continuity of the instructional process and limits the ability of students to complete the prescribed curriculum requirements successfully. The following rules shall apply for student absences:

  1. A student shall be considered absent from class for tardiness in excess of one half of the total class period.
  2. A student shall be considered absent from school and ineligible for participation in activities/sports/etc., if the student is not present for at least one (1) hour during both the forenoon and the afternoon sessions of the school day or for at least two (2) hours of a one session school day.

A student must be in attendance for 162 or more school days in order to be considered to have successfully completed the instructional program requirements to which he/she is assigned. The state of New Jersey considers any student who is absent for 10% or more of the total number of school days for any reason, excluding the five (5) State recognized excused absences, as being “Chronically Absent” (e.g.18 absences over 180 school days equals Chronically Absent)

Attendance need not always be within the school facilities. A student will be considered to be in attendance if he/she is present at any place where school is in session by authority of the Board. The Board shall consider each student assigned to a program of independent study, with parent/guardian permission, to be in regular attendance for that program, provided that he/she is under the guidance of a staff member so assigned, reports daily or weekly, as prescribed, to such staff member to the place in which he/she is conducting his/her study, and regularly demonstrates progress toward the objectives of his/her course of study.

Procedures for Unexcused Absences

When a student fails to report to class or school accumulating up to four (4) unexcused absences (verified and/or unverified), the District shall:

  1. Make a reasonable attempt to notify the student’s parents/guardians of each unexcused absence prior to the start of the following school day;
  2. Make a reasonable attempt to determine the cause of the unexcused absence, including through contact with the student’s parents;
  3. Identify in consultation with the student’s parents needed action designed to address patterns of unexcused absences, if any, and to have the child return to school and maintain regular attendance;
  4. Follow all procedures according to law and Board policy 5142 Student Safety 5141.4 Child Abuse and Neglect if a potential missing or abused child situation is detected;
  5. Cooperate with law enforcement and other authorities and agencies, as appropriate.

If contact through these means is unsuccessful the District may follow-up with another attempt to contact the parents/guardians or send a letter reporting the unexcused absence and requesting the parent/guardian to contact the school.

If at any time it is suspected that there is a potential of abuse, neglect and/or a student is potentially missing the District shall implement all procedures required by law including reporting protocols, notification of parents/guardians and cooperation with law enforcement and other authorities and agencies, as appropriate.

Procedures for Persistent Absences

If the pattern of unexcused absences continues and five (5) to nine (9) unexcused absences are accumulated (verified and/or unverified) the District shall:

  1. Make a reasonable attempt to notify the student’s parents/guardians of each unexcused absence prior to the start of the following school day;
  2. Make a reasonable attempt to determine the cause of the unexcused absence, including through contact with the student’s parents to address previous patterns of unexcused absences;
  3. Evaluate the appropriateness of action taken as identified in consultation with the student’s parents;
  4. Develop an Action Plan to establish outcomes based upon the student’s patterns of unexcused absences and to specify the interventions for supporting the student’s return to school and regular attendance, which may include any or all of the following:
  5. Refer or consult with the building’s intervention and referral services (I&RS) team;
  6. Conduct testing, assessments or evaluations of the student’s academic, behavioral and health needs;
  7. Consider an alternate educational placement;
  8. Make a referral to or coordinate with a community-based social and health provider agency or other community resource;
  9. Refer to the court or a court program as follows:
    1. When the unexcused absences are determined to be violations of the compulsory education law and Board policy;
    2. When there is evidence of a juvenile-family crisis the student may be referred to Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part. “Juvenile-family crisis” pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-22(g);
  10. Follow all procedures according to law and Board policy 5142 Student Safety 5141.4 Child Abuse and Neglect if a potential missing or abused child situation is detected;
  11. Engage the student’s family.
  12. Cooperate with law enforcement and other authorities and agencies, as appropriate.

Truancy

For cumulative unexcused absences of ten (10) or more (verified and/or unverified), the student between the ages of six (6) and sixteen (16) is truant, pursuant to law. The District shall:

  1. Make a determination regarding the need for a court referral for the truancy;
  2. Continue to consult with the parent and the involved agencies to support the student’s return to school and regular attendance;
  3. Cooperate with law enforcement and other authorities and agencies, as appropriate;
  4. Follow all procedures required by N.J.S.A. 18A:38-28 through 31, Article 3B, Compelling Attendance at School and other applicable state and federal statutes, including a court referral.

Discipline

All discipline regarding the attendance of students shall be consistent with Board policy and regulation 5131 Conduct Discipline.

No student who is absent from school for a State recognized excused absence or a verified-unexcused absence shall be disciplined and/or deprived of any award or of eligibility for or opportunity to compete for any award because of the absence.

Students, parents and guardians shall be notified of disciplinary actions for attendance including loss of credit.

Daily Attendance

  1. Consecutive Absences (includes Verified-Unexcused and/or Unverified-Unexcused Absences)

Any student who will knowingly miss ten (10) full school days consecutively must dis-enroll from school and identify a transfer school or appropriate educational setting. Any student who misses ten (10) full school days consecutively and does not appear on homebound instruction, and/or is not medically verified incapacitated shall be considered truant and will be issued a written notification to report back to school within five (5) school days. Failure to do so will result in the following:

  1. Parents/guardians of students under the compulsory school age (below 16 years of age) may be presented with a formal written notice to cause the child to attend school (N.J.S.A. 18A:38-29). Failure to comply with the provision of the law may cause the parent to be deemed a disorderly person and the parent be subject to a fine (N.J.S.A. 18A:38-29).

Late Arrival and Early Dismissal

The orderly conduct of class activity depends upon the prompt and precise beginning of the program. Tardiness hinders the proper conduct of school activity. Students are expected to arrive to school and class on time. A student who is tardy to any class will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in Board policy and regulation 5131 Conduct Discipline.

The Board recognizes that from time to time compelling circumstances will require that a student be late to school or dismissed before the end of the school day. As agent responsible for the education of the children of this District, the Board shall require that the school be notified in advance of such absences by written request of the student’s parent/guardian, which shall state the reason for the tardiness or early dismissal.

Students who miss class because they are late getting to school or because they must leave before the school day ends may be considered Verified-Unexcused Absent under the following circumstances provided supporting documentation has been submitted to the school and all appropriate sign-in/sign-out procedures have been followed:

    1. Doctor, dentist, or other medical appointments which cannot be scheduled outside of school hours, verified by a note from the doctor’s office
    2. Court appearance, verified by a note from the court.
    3. Requirements of a student’s individual health care plan;
    4. Requirements of the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP);
    5. Alternate short or long term accommodations for students with disabilities;
    6. Medical disability;
    7. Family or other emergency at the discretion of the building Principal;
    8. Such good cause as may be acceptable to Administration

Requests for early release for students must be made in writing by the student’s parent/guardian and submitted to the school’s main office at that start of school. This note must indicate:

  1. The date, time and reason for early dismissal;
  2. A valid phone number where the parent/guardian may be reached;
  3. The reason for the early dismissal may be verified by the school’s main office before a student will be permitted to sign out
  4. No student in grades kindergarten through eight shall be permitted to leave the school before the close of the school day unless he/she is met in the school office by his/her parent/guardian or a person authorized by the parent/guardian to act in his/her behalf.

Students who fail to provide verification of appointments shall be considered Unverified-Unexcused Absent and may be subject to disciplinary action according the Code of Student Conduct and/or loss of credit. In the event that the student fails to comply with these procedures, the student will be considered truant and any classes missed shall be considered Unverified-Unexcused and any classes missed as a result of late arrival/early dismissal shall be counted as a period absence. Tardiness not covered by the causes listed shall be cumulative, and may affect course credit.

Adopted: October 20, 2008

NJSBA Review/Update: November 2009; December 2010; October 24, 2011; May 2018

Readopted: October 23, 2017

Key Words

Student Attendance, Attendance, Absences and Excuses, Student Attendance

Legal References: N.J.S.A. 18A:11‑1 General mandatory powers and duties

N.J.S.A. 18A:35‑4.9 Student promotion and remediation; policies and procedures

N.J.S.A. 18A:36‑14, -15, -16 Religious holidays; absence of students on; effect …

N.J.S.A. 18A:36‑19a Newly enrolled students; records and identification

N.J.S.A. 18A:36‑24

through ‑26 Missing children; legislative findings and declarations …

N.J.S.A. 18A:38‑25 Attendance required of children between six and 16;

exceptions

N.J.S.A. 18A:38‑26 Days when attendance required; exceptions

N.J.S.A. 18A:38‑27 Truancy and juvenile delinquency defined

N.J.S.A. 18A:38‑31 Violations of article by parents or guardians; penalties

N.J.S.A. 18A:38‑32 District and county vocational school attendance officers

N.J.S.A. 18A:40‑7 Exclusion of students who are ill

N.J.S.A. 18A:40‑8 Exclusion of students whose presence is detrimental to health and cleanliness

N.J.S.A. 18A:40-9 Failure of parent to remove cause for exclusion; penalty

N.J.S.A. 18A:40‑10 Exclusion of teachers and students exposed to disease

N.J.S.A. 18A:40‑11 Exclusion of students having communicable tuberculosis

N.J.S.A. 18A:40-12 Closing schools during epidemic

N.J.S.A. 18A:54‑20 Powers of board (county vocational schools)

N.J.S.A. 52:17B-9.8a

through -9.8c Marking of missing child’s school record

N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1 Graduation requirements

N.J.A.C. 6A:16-1 et seq. Programs to support student development

N.J.A.C. 6A:30-1.1 et seq. Evaluation of the Performance of School Districts

N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.1 et seq. Student Attendance and Accounting

N.J.A.C. 6A:32‑8.3 Student attendance

Wetherell v. Board of Education of Township of Burlington, 1978 S.L.D. 794

Wheatley v. Board of Education of City of Burlington, 1974 S.L.D. 851

C.R., on behalf of J.R., v. Board of Education of the Scotch Plains‑Fanwood Regional School District, 1988 S.L.D. (June 22)

Student Attendance Policies and Procedures Compliance Checklist, New Jersey Department of Education

Possible

Cross References: *5020 Role of parents/guardians

*5111 Admission

*5114 Suspension and expulsion

*5124 Reporting to parents/guardians

*5125 Student records

*5141.2 Illness

*5141.4 Child abuse and neglect

*5142 Student safety

*6146 Graduation requirements

*6146.2 Promotion/retention

*6147 Standards of proficiency

*6147.1 Evaluation of individual student performance

*6154 Homework/makeup work

*6171.4 Special education

*6173 Home instruction

*Indicates policy is included in the Critical Policy Reference Manual.

1st Reading: 10/24/11

2nd Reading: 10/24/11

Final Reading: 10/24/11