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Attendance Policy

The Board of Education of the City School District of Albany 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:

  1. overall objectives of the policy;

  2. specific strategies to accomplish these objectives;

  3. excused vs. unexcused student absences and tardiness;

  4. coding system identifying reasons for absence or tardiness; 

  5. student attendance and course credit;

  6. incentives and disciplinary sanctions;

  7. notice to parents or persons in parental relation;

  8. intervention strategies to identify patterns of student absence or tardiness;

  9. parties responsible for student attendance in each school; and

  10. 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 thirty (30) 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 or persons in parental relation to students at the beginning of each school year and taking such other steps deemed necessary to promote the understanding of such policy by students and their parents or persons in parental relations. 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 City School District of Albany are to:

a)    ensure the maintenance of an adequate record verifying the attendance of all children at instruction in accordance with Education Law;

b)      establish a practical mechanism for each school in the District to account to the parents or persons in parental relation enrolled in the school for the whereabouts of such children throughout each school day; and

c)    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.

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 or persons in parental relation; address where the pupil resides; phone numbers where the parents or persons in parental relation may be contacted; date of the pupil's enrollment; and a record of the pupil's attendance on each day of scheduled instruction.

All entries in the register of attendance shall be made by the teacher of the class in which the pupil is enrolled.  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 principal of each school shall have the responsibility of supervising the keeping of the register of attendance.  The principal shall also be charged with reviewing pupil attendance records periodically for the purpose of initiating appropriate action pursuant to section 9 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: 

a)    in the elementary schools, after the taking of attendance once per school day; and 

b)    in the middle school and high school, after the taking of attendance in each period of scheduled 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 3 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 3 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:

      a)      illness;

      b)      illness or death in the family;

      c)      unsafe travel conditions;

      d)      religious observance;

      e)      medical appointments;

      f)      quarantine;

      g)      required court appearances;

      h)      participation in a school-sponsored activity;

      i)      approved college visits;

      j)      approved cooperative work programs and

      k)      academic enrichment.

Any other pupil absence, tardiness or early departure is considered by the Board of Education to be unexcused.  Each absence, tardiness and early departure shall 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 or persons in parental relation of the pupil to notify the office by telephone on the morning of the absence or tardiness or at the time of early departure as to the reason for such absence, tardiness or early departure.  As a follow-up to any oral notification, parents or persons in parental relation to the pupil shall provide a written excuse within five (5) school days containing the date of the absence, tardiness, or early departure and reason for such.  Lengthy or frequent absences with notes may be investigated.  A doctor's note verifying an absence is requested after the fifth (5) consecutive day.  If not submitted after five (5) days it will be marked unexcused.

Coding system identifying reasons for absence or tardiness

The Board of Education shall charge the Superintendent or designee to design a uniform coding system that will be used by all teachers in recording pupil absences, tardiness or early departure in their registers or attendance.

For any absence, tardiness or early departure that is excused, the coding system shall identify the reason for such absence, tardiness or early departure.  An absence, tardiness or early departure shall be assumed to be unexcused until the teacher receives either oral or written confirmation that such absence, tardiness or early departure is in fact excused with appropriate reason.

Along with coding for whether an absence, tardiness or early departure is excused or unexcused and, if excused, the reason for such, the teacher shall 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 and course credit

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 a recognition of the vital role classroom attendance and participation plays in academic achievement.

In order for a student in the high school to receive credit for a course, it is important that the student attend regular class meetings.  For a full-year course, twenty-eight (28) absences shall result in a loss of credit.  For a half-year course, fourteen (14) absences shall result in a loss of credit.

Any pupil absence that is both properly excused and for which the student has performed any assigned make-up work shall not be counted as an absence for the purpose of determining the student's eligibility for course credit under this policy.  It shall be the student's responsibility to obtain all make-up work from his or her teacher(s) immediately upon the student's return to school, and all make-up work shall be submitted within ten (10) days after the excused absence to be reviewed by the teacher.

A student shall be regarded as being absent from class under this section of the policy if he or she misses more than twenty (20) minutes of class due to tardiness or early departure.  Such tardiness or early departure shall be excused, and the student shall perform the necessary make-up work within the allotted time, in order for the tardiness or early departure to not be counted as an absence for the purpose of determining the student's eligibility for course credit under this policy.

All medical excuses shall be submitted within five (5) working days of the student's return to school in order to be considered as a valid excuse for the student's absence.  If written excuse is not submitted within this timeframe, the absence will be marked unexcused.

Notice to the pupil's parents or persons in parental relation regarding absences and the potential for denial of course credit and strategies that shall be employed in the high school and prior to the denial of course credit to the pupil for insufficient attendance shall be as follows:

a) On the fourth (4th) absence from a class in a half-year course, the teacher shall speak to the student and notify the guidance office and the principal, who shall then send a letter home, advising the parents or persons in parental relation of the class and the number of absences.

b) On the eight (8th) absence in a half-year course, the teacher shall speak to the student, and notify the principal, who shall then send a second letter home, advising the parents or persons in parental relation of the class and the number of absences.  The principal shall also meet with the student, the student's parents or persons in parental relation, and the student's teacher or teachers.

c)      On the fourteen (14th) absence in a half-year course, the student shall not be allowed to register to repeat the course in summer school

Exemptions from the Attendance Policy

  1. Students on educational field trips and/or school related activities approved by the school are counted as present and, therefore, would not be affected by this policy.

  2. A student who is approved for home instruction will not be counted as absent once home instruction is approved by the Office of Pupil Personnel Services.  Approval requires presentation of a physician's notice indicating the need for home instruction.

  3. In-school suspension, for which the student is doing work related to his or her particular classes, and out-of-school suspension, where the student takes advantage of alternate educational services provided by the District, shall not count as absences from class under this section of the policy.

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: 

  • Perfect attendance awards

  • Most improved attendance awards

  • On site programs targeted at chronic offenders

  • Classroom teachers' strategies to improve student attendance

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:

  • Alternative education placement

  • Detentions/Saturday school

  • Mandatory school team meeting with parent and student

  • PINS diversion

  • Family Court

The Board of Education shall charge the Superintendent or designee with the task of monitoring the effectiveness of the use of incentives and disciplinary sanctions in each of the schools, and the Superintendent shall prepare a quarterly written report to the Board, at the end of each ten-week grading period, detailing the use of incentives and disciplinary sanctions in each school.

Notice to parents or persons in parental relation

As noted in section 3 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 or persons in parental relation of the pupil to excuse such absence, tardiness or early departure by notifying the office by telephone on the morning of the absence or tardiness or at the time of early departure as to the reason for such absence, tardiness or early departure. 

As a follow-up to any oral notification, parents or persons in parental relation to the pupil shall provide a written excuse within five (5) school days which shall include the following:  date of the absence, tardiness, or early departure and reason for such.  The Board of Education shall 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 or persons in parental relation to the pupil 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 or person in parental relation to the pupil.

The school may accept the form completed by the parent or person in parental relation or a handwritten note from the parent or person in parental relation 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 or person in parental relation after five (5) school days, a telephone call shall be made from the school to the parent or person in parental relation to the pupil notifying him or her of the need for proper excuse of their pupil's absence, tardiness or early departure.

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.

Each school building shall establish a committee which shall be charged with monitoring overall pupil attendance and determining and addressing specific patterns of unexcused pupil absence, tardiness, or early departure.  The committee shall be comprised of the building principal, nurse, and teachers and other support staff as determined by the principal. 

The committee shall meet monthly, and shall 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 and shall be sent to the Superintendent for his 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

The principal of each school building 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.

Annual review of policy by the Board

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.  Any such amendment to the comprehensive attendance policy shall be provided in writing to each staff member no later than thirty (30) school days after adoption of the amendment by the Board.

 

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