A student who misses too much school runs the risk of failing or dropping out. And when that happens, the student cuts off his or her chances to graduate and make it in today’s world.
That’s why the City School District of Albany has stepped up its efforts to get students to school and keep them engaged.
The district partners with social-services providers, mental-health professionals, law enforcement agencies, Family Court and the City of Albany’s Truancy Abatement Program. Together, we work with families when attendance issue. We also provide meaningful incentives for good attendance and consequences for poor attendance.
The district follows state law, which requires a parent or guardian to give the school a written excuse for every absence or late arrival. The excuse must be signed and dated by a child’s parent or legal guardian, and include the dates and reasons for the absence or lateness.
A child’s absence or late arrival is excused in the following circumstances:
- Student illness or family illness or death
- Unsafe travel conditions
- Religious observances
- Medical appointments
- Required court appearances
- Participation in a school-sponsored activity
- Approved college visits
- Approved work programs
- Academic enrichment
Absences and late arrivals are tracked every day in every school. In elementary schools, teachers and/or staff people take attendance once a day. At Albany High School and in middle school, attendance is taken every period. Each school has a committee responsible for monitoring overall attendance; that committee also is responsible for identifying specific students who frequently miss or are late to school.
If a school identifies a student with an attendance problem, the school may use one of the following strategies to address the issue:
- Loss of extracurricular privileges
- School detention
- Mandatory school meeting with and parent and/or guardian
- Alternative education placement
- District attendance officer referral
- Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) report filed
- Child Protective Services report filed against parents/guardian for educational neglect
- Family court referral
The future is bleaker for students who miss too much school. And frequent absences without a valid reason are known as truancy.
Truancy is an early warning sign for a student headed toward school failure and dropping out. Truant students also are at greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and delinquency.
In the City School District of Albany, truant behavior includes:
- Being absent because of sickness for more than five days without a note from the doctor
- Missing classes without a valid excuse
- Missing whole days of school without a valid excuse
- Frequently being late for school
Parents can help their kids make the right choices about school. Here’s how.
- Keep open the lines of communication between you and your child’s principal or teacher. For middle and high school students, keep in touch with your child’s guidance counselor.
- Be sure your child is at school on time every day. Set a routine for getting homework done.
- Limit late-night activities. Have a regular, reasonable bed time and stick to it on weeknights.
- Don’t allow other activities to take priority over school and school work.
- Make sure your child knows that every day in school counts. Make education a priority by emphasizing that doing well in school and graduating gives them a better chance of getting what they want in life.
- Increase your child’s involvement in school by having him or her participate in after-school clubs, sports or both. To find out what’s available, call your child’s school.