Admin

Attendance Policy

Student Attendance Policy, An Overview

 The Superintendent or designee is responsible for enforcing school attendance of all children subject to the compulsory school age in the Orange County Public Schools (“OCPS”) district and supporting enforcement of school attendance by local law enforcement agencies. The responsibility includes recommending policies and procedures to The School Board of Orange County, Florida (“Board”) that require schools to respond in a timely manner to every unexcused absence, and every absence for which the reason is unknown, of students enrolled in the schools. 

The Superintendent’s attendance procedures shall outline the responsibilities within the school system including, but not limited to, the following:

• School attendance is the responsibility of the student and parent/legal guardian.

• Students shall begin each new school year with zero (0) absences.

• All school personnel shall encourage regular attendance.

• Schools shall publish and distribute their attendance procedures to students and parents/legal      guardians.

• On a daily basis, student absences will be recorded as unexcused until an acceptable excuse has been provided by the parent/legal guardian indicating the reason for the student’s absence. The principal has the ultimate authority to decide whether an absence shall be excused. Attendance documentation must be submitted to the school within 48 hours of the student’s absence. The principal may extend this deadline beyond 48 hours.

• Early student departure during the last hour of the school day is strongly discouraged.

• If a student is repeatedly absent from school due to illness, the school is authorized to require the parent/legal guardian to provide a written physician’s statement for each subsequent absence to be considered excused.

• Absences shall be excused for the following:

  • Illness, injury, or other insurmountable condition;
  • Illness or death of a member of the student’s immediate family (OCPS practice has been to define immediate family as the student’s mother, father, brother, sister, stepmother, stepfather, step-siblings, and other relatives who live in the student’s home);
  • Recognized (or established) religious holidays and/or religious instruction;
  • Medical appointments;
  • Legal appointments;
  • Participation in an approved activity or class of instruction held at another site;
  • Prearranged absences of educational value with the principal’s prior approval;
  • Pediculosis (head lice) infestation (up to four (4) days per school year); or
  • Catastrophic disasters that significantly impact the life of the student (e.g. loss of residence from natural disaster).

• Students shall be given a reasonable amount of time to make up any work assignments which were missed during an absence. At least one (1) school day shall be allowed to make up missed work for each day of absence.

  • A student who is not in his/her first assigned class at the beginning of each school day shall be considered tardy.
  • In cases of truancy and habitual truancy that are referred for Child Study Team action, tardies may be recognized and calculated in the truancy instances. For truancy purposes in Child Study Team documentation that may also be used for court action, five (5) tardies to school or five (5) early departures from school will equal one (1) unexcused absence. The authority to apply accumulated tardies and early departure as unexcused absences is given to the Board pursuant to Section 1003.02, Florida Statutes. The principal has the authority to determine whether an absence is excused.

     

  • Schools may not exempt students from examinations, papers, or other academic performance requirements to encourage student attendance.

     

  • Report cards shall reflect the academic status, attendance, and number of daily tardies for each student. These will be hand-delivered to the parent/legal guardian by the student.

     

  • A student between the ages of six (6) and under sixteen (16) who is absent from school without having an excused absence, with or without the knowledge and/or consent of the parent/legal guardian, will be considered “truant.”

     

  • A student between the ages of six (6) and under sixteen (16) who has fifteen (15) or more unexcused absences within ninety (90) calendar days, or an equivalent combination of unexcused absences and accumulated tardies as determined in the Child Study Team action, will be considered an “habitual truant.” Days when a student is suspended from school are not included in the number of absences when determining “habitual truancy.” Students may make up work missed during a suspension within a time limit established by the principal.

     

  • Each school shall implement the following steps to enforce regular school attendance of the students enrolled in their school:
  • Upon each unexcused absence, or absence for which the reason is unknown, the principal or designee shall contact the parent/legal guardian to determine the reason for the absence. At least one (1) school day shall be allowed to make up missed work for each day of absence.
  • If a student has had at least five (5) unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or ten (10) unexcused absences, within a ninety (90) calendar day period, or an equivalent combination of unexcused absences and accumulated tardies as determined in the Child Study Team action, the student's primary teacher shall report to the principal or designee that the student may be exhibiting a pattern of nonattendance. The principal or designee shall, unless there is clear evidence that the absences are not a pattern of nonattendance, refer the case to the school's Child Study Team to determine if early patterns of truancy are developing. If the Child Study Team finds that a pattern of nonattendance is developing, whether the absences are excused or not, a meeting with the parent/legal guardian must be scheduled to identify potential remedies.
  • If an initial meeting does not resolve the problem, the Child Study Team shall implement the following:
    • Frequent attempts at communication between the teacher and the parent/legal guardian;
    • Evaluation for alternative education programs; and
    • Attendance contracts.
  • The Child Study Team may, but is not required to, implement other interventions, including referral to other agencies for family services or recommendation for filing a truancy petition pursuant to Section 984.151, Florida Statutes.
  • The Child Study Team shall be diligent in facilitating intervention services and shall report the case to the Superintendent or designee only when all reasonable efforts to resolve the nonattendance behavior are exhausted.
  • If the parent/legal guardian refuses to participate in the remedial strategies because he or she believes that those strategies are unnecessary or inappropriate, the parent/legal guardian may appeal to the Board. The Board may provide a hearing officer, and the hearing officer shall make a recommendation for final action to the Board. If the Board's final determination is that the strategies of the Child Study Team are appropriate, and the parent/legal guardian still refuses to participate or cooperate, the Superintendent or designee may seek criminal prosecution for noncompliance with compulsory school attendance.
  • If a student subject to compulsory school attendance will not comply with attempts to enforce school attendance, the parent/legal guardian or the Superintendent or designee shall refer the case to the case staffing committee and the Superintendent or designee may file a truancy petition pursuant to the procedures set forth in Section 984.151, Florida Statutes.
  • If the Superintendent or designee chooses not to file a truancy petition, the procedures for filing a Child-in-Need-of-Services (“CINS”) petition shall be commenced.

     

  • Orange County Public Schools (“OCPS”) shall implement the following steps to enforce regular school attendance of students of compulsory school age who are not enrolled:
  • Under the direction of the Superintendent or designee, a designated school representative shall give written notice, in person or by return-receipt mail, to the parent/legal guardian when no valid reason is found for a student's non-enrollment in school. The notice shall require enrollment or attendance within three (3) days after the date of notice. If the notice and requirement are ignored, the designated school representative shall report the case to the Superintendent or designee and may refer the case to the Case Staffing Committee. The Superintendent or designee shall take such steps as are necessary to bring criminal prosecution against the parent/legal guardian or other person having control.
  • Subsequent to the activities described above, the Superintendent or designee shall give written notice in person or by return-receipt mail to the parent/legal guardian that criminal prosecution is being sought for nonattendance. The Superintendent or designee may file a truancy petition, as defined in Section 984.03, Florida Statutes, following the procedures outlined in Section 984.151, Florida Statutes.
  • A law enforcement officer may take a student into custody when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the student is absent from school without authorization or is suspended or expelled and is not in the presence of his or her parent/legal guardian. The officer may take the student into custody and deliver the student to the appropriate “school system site”, including but not limited to, a center approved by the Superintendent of schools for the purpose of counseling students and referring them back to the school system or an approved alternative to a suspension or expulsion program. If a student is suspended or expelled from school without assignment to an alternative school placement, the student shall be delivered as follows:
  • To the parent/legal guardian; or
  • To a location determined by the parent/legal guardian, or to the Alternative Center for Truancy until the parent/legal guardian can be located.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

Sections 984.03; 984.12; 984.15; 984.151; 1001.41; 1003.02; 1003.21; 1003.24; 1003.26; and

1003.33, Florida Statutes

IMPORTANT NOTES

• Students not in attendance on the first day and up to 10 days thereafter will receive a code of “Q” (Not Entered). This is also the correct code to enter on a student’s first day of attendance if they transfer into a new school mid-year.

• Students who have attended more than half a school day and are released from school prior to the closing of the school day shall be recorded as an early departure for the purposes of attendance. Early departures are either excused or unexcused. Once a student’s attendance has met the truancy threshold, five unexcused early departures will count as one unexcused absence for truancy reporting purposes.

• Students are tardy if they are not in class at the beginning of the school day. All students who are tardy to school must be recorded in the period/time of arrival using code “M”. Please note that classroom teachers can record “Tardy to class” or "D" in Skyward, but they cannot record “Tardy to school” or "M" in Skyward. Only the attendance staff can record “Tardy to school” in Skyward. The parent may provide a reason for the tardy that will be considered if truancy actions are initiated.

• Secondary students can be marked tardy for each period of attendance. For the purposes of truancy, only tardies to school are considered.

• Late students must be allowed to sign-in regardless of their arrival time.

• Students may not be suspended out of school for excessive tardiness to school.

• In the event a student’s attendance has met the definition of truancy, school tardies and early departures will become part of the truancy referral process (five tardies to school or five early departures are equivalent to one unexcused absence). However, this is for referral purposes only, and the student attendance record will not be altered. Actual presence or absence on campus must be accurately reflected in the electronic record. Schools are encouraged to establish school-based interventions for tardies that do not include the use of out-of-school suspensions.

• Phone calls are not acceptable communications for excusing an absence.

• A student is considered absent for the entire day if more than half of the school day is missed. All absences are recorded as unexcused until the student returns and provides documentation to school personnel that would excuse the absence.

• If a student begins to demonstrate a pattern of absences for medical reasons, the school may require a physician’s note for future absences for medical reasons. It is the practice of OCPS to require a doctor’s note when a student is absent for three or more consecutive days or requests more than five non-consecutive absences for medical reasons. In addition, a student illness may be verified by the school nurse.

• Any student whose parent/legal guardian is an active member of the United States Armed Forces and is preparing for deployment, on leave, or has returned from deployment may be excused up to five days.

• Excused absences, field trips, and suspension days may not count against a student for purposes of credit hours.

• Students must be allowed a reasonable time to make-up any missed work regardless of the type of absence (excused or unexcused). A minimum of one day must be allowed for each absence from school.

• Students suspended from school should be treated like an excused absence with regards to make-up work and course attendance hours.

• All students placed in the Hospital Homebound Program are subject to compulsory school attendance laws and are subject to the OCPS Truancy Policy.

• Pregnancy is not an acceptable excuse for non-enrollment. Pregnant students and new parents are mandated to attend school. However, if a student is enrolled in a teenage parent program, then they are exempt from the minimum attendance requirement for absences related to pregnancy or parenting. The student is required to make up work missed as a result of any absences. Pregnant students sometimes require extra excused absences due to medical issues. These additional absences must be documented by a note from the student’s doctor where the doctor must determine the amount of time that will be excused. The student is required to make up any work missed during these extended absences.

• When a parent requests in writing that their child be withdrawn from school, the student should be immediately withdrawn. However, school must inform parent that the student should be immediately enrolled in another school for student records to be released. If records are not requested within 5 days, student’s withdrawal will revert to “Unexcused” absences from date of withdrawal request, which may trigger a truancy status.

• The Attendance Clerk should monitor the student‘s enrollment status. If the child has not enrolled at another school within five schools days, non-enrollment procedures should be initiated.

• Non-Enrollment Procedures:

  • A non-enrollment/Three-Day Letter must be sent to the parent/guardian by certified mail with a return receipt or delivered in person with a signature obtained. All follow up regarding non-enrollment is the responsibility of the withdrawing school.
  • If three days have passed and the signed receipt from the certified letter or the signature obtained from the hand-delivered letter is on-file and the student has still not enrolled in another school, the withdrawing school shall immediately send a second letter informing the parent that criminal prosecution may be sought against them for non-enrollment in school. This letter must be sent to the parent by certified mail with a return receipt or delivered in person with a signature obtained.
  • If parent/guardian still does not enroll their child in school, please forward the case to the School Social Worker for further investigation.
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