Statement of Policy
The responsibility of school attendance is that of both parents/families and students. School attendance is important as it underscores the significance of learning and obtaining an education in our ever-evolving society. Regular school attendance also correlates strongly with improved grades and it helps students develop good work habits that will carry over in life. To aid students in being academically successful, attendance is required for attainment of the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) standards. The Superintendent has designated the minimum levels of attendance in procedure consistent with state standards.
Any child subject to compulsory attendance who during the school calendar year has more than 10 days of unexcused absences.
Attendance in a public school, private school, or home school program is required for children between their 6th and 16th birthdays. Every parent, guardian, or other person residing in this state having control or charge of any child between their 6th and 16th birthdays shall be responsible for enrolling and sending such child to a public school, private school, or home school program. Attendance in a public school, private school, or a home school program is required regardless of the fact that a child has been suspended or expelled from school by the local board of education. Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) § 20-2-690.1
Students are considered tardy to school or class if the student arrives at a designated location after a school bell, chime, or buzzer has sounded. (Local schools will include specific information relevant to their facility to identify the designated location for student arrival.)
When a parent, guardian, or other person having charge or control of a student authorizes a student to leave the facility before the end of the school day. School day hours are published in local school handbooks.
State Board of Education Rule 160-5-1-.10 defines the following as excused absences:
- Personal illness or attendance in school endangers a student’s health or the health of others. (i) Local boards of education may request students to present appropriate medical documentation to school for the purpose of validating that the absence is an excused absence
- A serious illness or death in the student’s immediate family necessitating absence from school. (i) In the event of a serious illness in a student's immediate family, local boards of education may request students to present appropriate medical documentation regarding the family member upon return to school for the purpose of validating that the absence is an excused absence.
- A court order or an order by a government agency, including pre-induction physical examinations for service in the armed forces, mandating absence from school.
- Observing religious holidays, necessitating absence from school.
- Conditions rendering attendance impossible or hazardous to student health or safety. (For Gwinnett County Public Schools, the closure of schools for hazardous conditions may only be made by the Superintendent for the purposes of excused absences.)
- A period not to exceed one day is allowed at the discretion of the local unit of administration for registering to vote or voting in a public election.
- Local boards of education shall count students present when they are serving as pages for the Georgia General Assembly.
- Public school students visiting with a parent or legal guardian prior to or during leave from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting as a member of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard are allowed five excused absences per school year.
- Students who are in a foster home or otherwise in the foster care system under the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services will be counted present for any day, portion of a day, or days missed from school when attending court proceedings related to that student’s foster care.
- A student who participates in the Student Teen Election Participant (STEP) program will be counted as present and given full credit for the school day during which he or she served in the STEP program.
- A student who participates in an activity or program sponsored by 4-H.
Parents or guardians are encouraged to contact the school on the day of the student’s absence to indicate the reason for the absence. Parents or guardians also must send a signed and dated written note when the student returns to school explaining the reason for the absence, the date(s) of the absence(s), and a daytime phone number. In order to ensure the opportunity of the student to complete make-up work and for local schools to record excused absences, it is best if a parent note or third-party excuse be delivered to the school the day that the student returns after being absent.
If a parent note or third-party excuse is not delivered to the school, the absence will be regarded as unexcused. Local schools can employ proven best practices to improve student attendance for both excused and unexcused absences. This includes, but is not limited to, local schools requesting appropriate medical documentation from the parent/guardian of a student with excessive absences (excused or unexcused). Parents or guardians will receive written notice when a student has five (5), ten (10) and fifteen (15) unexcused absences.
When such student has 10 or more unexcused absences, the school will make contact with parent, guardian or person having charge or control of the student to notify them of the additional unexcused absences along with possible consequences and interventions. This includes, but is not limited to, a referral to the combined Student Support Team (SST)/Student Attendance Review Committee (SARC) meeting. Schools shall send written notice inviting the parent or guardian to the SST/SARC meeting.
After the school system notifies the parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a child that such child has ten (10) days of unexcused absences, each additional unexcused absence may result in misdemeanor charges against the parent or guardian (O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1). Prior to any action to commence judicial proceedings to impose a penalty for violating this subsection on a parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a child, the school system shall send a notice to such parent, guardian, or other person by Certified Mail, return receipt requested, or by First-Class Mail. Upon conviction, any parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a child shall be subject to a fine not less than $25 and not greater than $100, or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, community service, or any combination of such penalties, at the discretion of the court having jurisdiction. A student subject to compulsory attendance laws who fails to attend school may be subject to a referral to Juvenile Court for disposition in accordance with Georgia law.
State law provides that at the time a student under the age of 18 applies for an instruction permit or driver’s license the individual must be enrolled in and not under expulsion from a public or private school, or be enrolled in a home education program.
To facilitate prompt, appropriate communication between the home and school, parents, guardians, or persons having charge or control of a student should notify the school immediately when there is a change in the student’s address and/or phone number as listed in school records.
Student check-in and check-out procedures are determined at the local school level.
Students generally should not be suspended for excessive unexcused absences, tardies, or early checkouts. Possible interventions to resolve attendance issues may include and are not limited to:
- Saturday School
- Revocation of School Transfer
- Community Service
- Loss of Parking Permit
- Student/Parent Conferences
- Referral to Support Staff (School Social Worker, School Counselor, Parent Instructional Coordinator, etc.)
- Referral to Juvenile Court (unexcused absences)
- Referral to Community Agencies
- Assign Student to School-based Mentor
- Referral to Academic Assistance Program
- Attendance Contract/Attendance Support Plan
- Referral to the Student Support Team
- Small Group Participation
- Disciplinary Action
Absences and Grading
Absences shall not penalize student grades if the following conditions are met:
- Absences are justified and validated for excused
- Make-up work for all absences is completed satisfactorily. (Although an absence may be considered “unexcused,” make-up work for approved, prearranged absences will be permitted. Procedures for doing so may be acquired from the local school.)
When students are suspended short-term (1–10 days), work missed will not count for or against their final grade. Suspended students shall make up those tests and assignments that the teachers determine will have an impact on the student’s final grade and mastery of course content. Assignments that the teacher does not require to be made up will not count toward a student’s final grade. Students are responsible for making arrangements and completing make-up work within the timeline specified by the local school.
Students not subject to compulsory school attendance laws who are enrolled for the current school year and do not attend school for ten (10) consecutive days without notification of the absence reason by the parent/guardian are subject to withdrawal. These students shall be withdrawn following the school’s attempt to notify the parent/guardian. Students determined to no longer be a resident of the system may be withdrawn even if the student is subject to compulsory school attendance laws. The withdrawal shall be retroactive to the first day of the consecutive absences.
For currently enrolled students who are subject to compulsory school attendance laws, it is required that schools make a good-faith effort to obtain documented information that the student no longer resides in the school’s attendance zone before the student is withdrawn.
Students who have emergencies necessitating their absence from school for a portion of the school day must have been present for the majority of the school day in order to be counted present. Students must attend school for at least the equivalent of half the school day in order to be counted for the whole day. This does not have to be continuous time.
When there is cause necessitating students to be released from school, they may only be released to their parent(s)/guardian(s), to a person properly identified to school authorities, or upon request by letter or telephone call from the parents/guardians.