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Dorchester County Public Schools

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Attendance Policy

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Attendance Policy

Maryland Compulsory Attendance Law

It is the duty of the parent or legal guardian or any person who has care and control of a child five (5) years old or older and under 18 years old to see that the child attends school regularly. There are penalties under the law for persons who do not see that the child attends school regularly. These penalties include:

1. Any person who induces or attempts to induce a child to absent himself or herself unlawfully from school or employs or harbors any child who is absent unlawfully from school while school is in session is guilty of a misdemeanor and/or conviction is subject to a fine not to exceed $500 or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both.

2. Any person who has legal custody or care and responsibility for a child who is 5 years old or older and under 18 who fails to see that the child attends school or receives instruction under this section of the law is guilty of a misdemeanor and for a first conviction is subject to a fine not to exceed $50 per day of unlawful absence or imprisonment not to exceed ten (10) days, or both; and for a second or subsequent conviction is subject to a fine not to exceed $100 per day of unlawful absence or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both. 30 Attendance Philosophy

Students are expected to attend school and all classes regularly and punctually. DCPS believes that:

1. Frequent absences of students from regular classroom learning experiences disrupts the continuity of the instructional process. The benefit of regular classroom instruction is lost and cannot be entirely regained, even by extra after school instruction.

2. Students develop habits of responsibility, self-discipline, and effective work skills through regular classroom attendance.

3. Regular school attendance maximizes the probability of each student completing high school and becoming a productive member of society.

4. School attendance is a parent and student responsibility.

5. Maintaining close communication and cooperation between the home, school and community agencies promotes regular attendance.

Maryland State law requires regular school attendance. Education Article Section 301 of the Maryland Annotated Code requires that, “each child who resides in this state and is five (5) years old or older and under 18 shall attend public school regularly during the entire school year unless the child is otherwise receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age.”

The following absences from school are deemed to be lawful. As such, work missed during absence for any of these reasons may be made up and grades awarded accordingly. Parent notes or other documentation are required to determine lawful absences.

The Superintendent, School Principal, or an individual authorized by the Superintendent or Principal may excuse a student for a lawful absence (§13.A.08.03 Code of Maryland Regulations).

Lawful absences include:

1. Death in the immediate family

2. Illness of a student

3. Court summons

4. Out of school suspension

5. Other emergency

6. Students who are incarcerated

7. School-sanctioned family activities

8. Health exclusion

9. Religious observances (requires prior approval from Principal)

10. Other activities sanctioned by DCPS (i.e. field trips, athletic activities, etc.)

Work missed during school-sanctioned family activities or lawful absences may be made up in accordance with Board of Education make-up policies.

Except for school-sanctioned family activities, notes and documentation verifying lawful absences from school must be submitted within five (5) school days after the student’s return to school from the absence. Failure to submit verification as required will result in the absence being considered unlawful.  Not sure what an absent note needs to say?  Absent Note Sample (PDF).

Unlawful Absences

Students with lawful or unlawful absences are required to make up work for all absences. It is the student’s responsibility to make up any work missed due to absences, lawful or unlawful. Work satisfactorily made up within the school’s prescribed time after returning to school will receive full credit.

Students upon receiving work from their teachers will have the equivalent of the number of days absent to complete work. All make-up work will be graded in accordance with the regular grading policy as long as it is completed within the established timeline.

A student’s parent or designee must make arrangements with the School Counselor office to obtain make-up work during the time of the suspension.

Attendance Requirement

In order to receive the most out of educational experiences, students are required to be punctual and to attend school on a regular basis. The following will serve as the basis for determining full day, half day and tardy status:

1. A student in attendance four hours or more of the school day will be considered present for a full day.

2. A student in attendance for at least two hours of the school day, but less than four hours, will be considered present a half day*

3. A student in attendance for less than two hours of the school day will be considered absent for a whole day.

4. A student arriving to school after the start of the school day or arriving to any class late shall be considered tardy.

Tardiness can be a serious disruption to the educational process. Therefore, each school shall address tardiness in a similar manner as lawful and unlawful absences and develop rules to address lateness to school and to classes.

*Note: Half day absences will accumulate. Two half days equal one full day of absence.

In Grades K through 12

Students who accumulate more than ten (10) absences (lawful or unlawful) per year will be required to produce an acceptable doctor’s note or other medical documentation for all subsequent absences. Failure to provide this documentation will result in the absence being considered unlawful.

Attendance Review

Students in grades 9-12 or their parent/guardian shall have the right to appeal unlawful absences beyond the allowable limits directly to the Principal and his/her Designee. An Attendance Review Committee shall be established in each school to review appeals of unlawful absences that affect grade reductions in grades 9-12 and decisions of retention at middle and elementary level.

Appeals can be initiated for unpredictable or emergency situations as:

1. Unusual health conditions with medical documentation.

2. Emergencies which prevent attendance

Appeals regarding the status of a student’s unlawful days must be initiated by the parent/legal guardian or student within five (5) days. Attendance Reviews shall require the presence of the parents or guardian and the student. Decisions made by the Attendance Review Committee may be appealed in writing to the Superintendent or Superintendent’s Designee within five (5) school days of receipt of the committee’s decision.

Make-Up Work Requirements

Students with lawful or unlawful absences are required to make up work for all absences. Here is some important information regarding the make-up policy:

1. It is the student’s responsibility to make-up any work missed due to absences, lawful or unlawful. Work satisfactorily made up within the school’s prescribed time after returning to school will receive full credit.

2. Students upon receiving work from their teachers will have the equivalent of the number of days absent to complete work. All make-up work will be graded in accordance with the regular grading policy as long as it is completed within the established timeline.

 3. Teachers may extend the deadline for make-up work as provided in school handbooks or in consultation with the Principal when the length of the absence warrants, particularly in cases of extended illness or long-term suspensions.

4. A student’s parent or designee must make arrangements with the School Counselor's office to obtain make-up work during the time of the suspension.

The complete Attendance Policy can be reviewed online at http://dcps.k12.md.us under Board Docs.

Attendance Resources 

Sample Absent Note: Absent note template (PDF)

Build the Habit of Good Attendance-Elementary School (PDF)

Ayude a su hijo a tener éxito en la escuela primaria (PDF)

Pay Attention to Attendance-Middle and High School (PDF)

Preste atención a la asistencia-Secundaria y Preparatoria (PDF)

Maryland State Department of Education Attendance Information (PDF)