The national Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires each state to submit a plan to the federal government indicating how its public education system will improve student achievement. A key requirement of this plan is addressing absences and tardies. School attendance is one of the most important indicators for success. Chronic absenteeism, identified as one of the most concerning trends with students today, is defined as missing 10 percent of a school year for any reason.
With this in mind, I want to share with you some important changes to our attendance requirements, types of absences, and the truancy process to meet the state and federal requirements.
Attendance Process and Types of Absences
A student’s first five absences from school are considered excused when documentation of the reason for the absence has been submitted and approved within 24 hours of the initial day the student was not in attendance.
Documentation includes a signed note from the parent or guardian, or a signed note from a school official who spoke in person to the parent or guardian regarding the child’s absence, or an email from the parent or guardian of the student.
The note must explain the nature of and the reason for the absence as well as the length of the absence. Schools shall take steps to provide appropriate assistance to parents/guardians for illiteracy and allow non-English speaking parents/guardians to submit documentation in their native language.
A child’s sixth and subsequent absence(s) from school are considered excused only for the following reasons when documentation has been submitted and approved within 24 hours of the initial day the student was not in attendance:
- Medical appointments (including but not limited to health, counseling, dental, or optometry)
- Student’s observance of a religious holiday
- Death in the student’s family
- Other emergency beyond the control of the child or the child’s family
- Mandated court appearances (additional documentation required)
- Extraordinary educational opportunities pre-approved by district administrators and in accordance with the Michigan Department of Education guidance
- Absences related to parent or guardian’s military service
If documentation is not submitted for the student’s absence, the absence will be counted as unexcused.
Once a student has 10 unexcused absences they will be considered Truant.
The truancy process may begin before 10 unexcused absences if school officials deem the student and/or their parents or guardians are willfully in violation of Section 1599 of the Michigan State Compulsory School Attendance Act.
Additional guidelines regarding attendance are available in your child’s Student Handbook. If you have questions, I urge you to contact your student’s principal for clarification of these policies.
Your child’s achievement is our greatest mission. By supporting your child’s regular attendance, we can work together for an engaging, inspiring, and dynamic year!
Jean Logan, Superintendent