SSPS:School Engagement

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Contents

Introduction

A student who is not in school obviously cannot be a part of the learning process. Student attendance is a strong indicator of the level to which a student is engaged in school. A quote summarizing the importance of this comes from pages 49 & 50 of Truancy Prevention and Intervention: a Practical Guide (Bye, Alvarez, Haynes, and Sweigart, 2010). “When students become aware that they are in an educational system that does not value their presence, fading or disengaging is the natural next step for the student (Pelerin, 2000). The student may think, ‘What does it matter if I don’t show up for class?’ or, ‘Who is going to miss me?’ Students may begin to believe they are invisible. For example, the author of this chapter heard students ask, ‘Why should I be in a class where the teacher does not want me there?’ When students feel they are not wanted they often have difficulty focusing on the reason they are in school in the first place: their academics (National Center for School Engagement, 2009a). Rather, the student’s primary concern becomes focused on surviving an educational system that is not nurturing, hostile, unwelcoming, and that marginalizes them. With that mindset, students can begin to react in a self-destructive manner due to the hurt and shame. Unequal and exclusionary educational policies and practices alienate students.”

We also cannot assume that just because a student is present that he/she is engaged in school. One definition of student engagement is “a psychological process, specifically, the attention, interest, and investment and effort students expend in the work of learning (Marks, 2000). Researchers have identified three types of school engagement: behavioral engagement, cognitive engagement and emotional engagement (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). The three are interrelated, but separating them helps to conceptualize the elements that go into creating an engaging school environment.

In addition, school non-attendance - the reasons that students do not attend school - is multidimensional. Some of the varied reasons why students do not attend school are listed in the side box. In examining this list the Safe Schools and Violence Prevention Office of the California Department of Education concluded, “Truancy is not the problem – it’s an indicator of other problems. When students aren’t in school, we need to understand why they stay away before we can affect solutions.”
>• Poverty • Outside employment • Teenage pregnancy • Family problems • Fear of bullies • Drug abuse • Lack of parental discipline • Frustration with academic work • Poor self-image • Behavioral problems • Social isolation • Transportation problem Addressing school attendance as an isolated problem with a single approach will never be effective. The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) identified four strategies for improving student attendance:

  • Sound and reasonable attendance policies with consequences for truancy.
  • Early interventions, especially with elementary students and their families.
  • Targeted interventions, which are both school and community-based, for students with chronic attendance problems.
  • Strategies to increase personalized engagement with students and families, which may include family involvement, cultural sensitivity, small group learning structures, mentoring, advising programs, maximization and focus on learning time, or service learning.


The vision of Pasco County Schools is to see all students reach their highest potential. Our strategic plan includes a focus on empowering teachers with data that drives teaching and learning. To achieve this goal all school personnel are focused on examining data over time to help improve instructional outcomes. The same approach can be and should be applied to the area of school attendance. The following document was developed to help school administrators, teachers and support staff with analyzing all aspects of school attendance in order to help problem solve and develop effective truancy interventions across all levels. The goal is not only to improve school attendance but also to continually seek ways to promote positive school engagement. Only when students are engaged on a behavioral, emotional, and cognitive level will they then flourish and demonstrate their full potential.

Multiple Tiered Supports for School Engagement

Research indicates that information about absences may be the most practical indicator for identifying students in need of early interventions. Patterns of non-attendance and truancy therefore are early warning signs of academic failure. A student’s absenteeism in elementary school can be a predictor of whether a student will dropout of school.

General Principles of Interventions

  • Establish an attendance committee. It is recommended that an attendance committee meet regularly to identify students who are not responding to school-wide Tier I interventions, make recommendations about interventions, and monitor the school’s progress. This committee can also identify students who are not responding to Tier II interventions, recommend more intense and frequent interventions, and arrange for more frequent monitoring.
  • Establish a communication system. A communication system should be established at each school to coordinate efforts, avoid duplicity, and make sure that all students with needs receive services. Examples include an online data management system where all working with the student record their interventions; assignment of a case manager who coordinates efforts; and participation/ input by all involved parties on committee discussions of students.
  • Create action plans for conducting, monitoring, and evaluating interventions The attendance committee or school administrators in conjunction with those most responsible for attendance (including the school social worker, guidance counselor, and data entry operator) should discuss the frequency of identifying and monitoring truant students. They should also create specific action plans for conducting, monitoring and evaluating interventions. Staff responsible could include teachers, administrators, data entry operator, registrar, school social worker, attendance assistant, school nurse, clinic assistant, school psychologist, behavior specialist, instructional paraprofessionals, dropout prevention counselors, parents, and students.
  • Give students, families, and staff a voice in promoting engagement. Schools are encouraged to examine the climate of their school (through student, family, and staff surveys) and make changes where needed to promote a sense of community in which all students feel connected and valued. Students need an opportunity to voice problems and dissatisfactions and to feel that their opinions matter.

Interventions For Use at all Grade Levels (Elementary, Middle, and High School)

This section contains examples of multi-tiered interventions that school teams have successfully implemented to improve student attendance at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Teams should use the problem solving process to examine attendance data, identify systemic and individual barriers to school engagement, and develop interventions directly connected to the needs of students.

General Interventions

Tier I Interventions

  • Develop a practice of showing interest in your students by asking them upon their return to school why they were absent and letting them know they were missed.
  • Develop a safe, positive atmosphere so that students want to attend school daily.
  • Develop methods to quickly investigate and provide remedies for bullying, academic difficulties, or personal problems.
  • Develop public service announcements to be aired on the school news related to regular school attendance.
  • Post a posting of the average daily attendance of students by class throughout the school, on the school’s website, and in communications to parents.
  • Develop a short-term goal for improving the average daily attendance. Students should be involved in developing this goal.
  • Provide training to teachers on how they can most effectively promote a welcoming environment for all students and on effective truancy interventions that can be conducted before referring students to the student services staff.
  • Assemble a school based attendance committee to develop and launch an attendance campaign.
  • Involve clubs or sports teams in an attendance campaign, such as having cheerleaders develop a cheer. Key messages could be spread to younger audiences such as middle school cheerleaders traveling to an elementary school or the 4thand 5th grade student council members presenting to kindergarten and 1st graders.
  • Establish a school-wide reward for meeting an average daily attendance goal (such as a school field/activity day, a no-homework day, a dress-up day, and/or an edible treat).
  • Send home positive notes, phone calls, and e-mails home recognizing accomplishments and efforts. Also, recognize students for meeting attendance goals.
  • Attach attendance brochures to registration information (see appendix for examples).
  • Recognize and reward individual students with perfect attendance or attendance above a certain level; this could be done once a quarter. These students could be rewarded with food, coupons to use at the school store, or gift cards/coupons donated by area businesses. Send positive notes to students for lesser attendance achievements.
  • Have a drawing periodically (e.g. every grading period) for an award (e.g. bicycle or gift card) for students with perfect attendance.
  • Enlist teachers to work with students to develop a mutually agreed to plan for absent students to complete make-up work for reduced credit.
  • Include attendance in all progress reports and report cards.
  • Make daily phone calls to homes of absent students (Be sure to maintain a positive tone and include any positive accomplishments).
  • Initiate automated dialing system phone calls to all students’ homes stressing the importance of regular attendance when school-wide attendance is low or when low attendance is anticipated (seen in previous school years).

Tier II Interventions

  • Flag students (and families) at registration who had excessive absences the previous school year to meet with the school social worker or other school personnel to talk about the importance of good attendance and agree on a plan for improvement.
  • Mail or send letters to parents of students who had excessive absences in the previous school year. This should be done early in the school year.
  • Require students with excessive absences to be accountable for example, present doctor’s notes or other professional documentation to excuse absences.
  • Mail letters home when students are absent from school (see appendix for examples).
  • Assign students to a mentor (school or community based).
  • Develop and host parent workshops focused on interventions to improve student’s attendance and behavior. Consider a component that focuses on learning how to monitor student attendance and grades on eSembler. Reinforce parents for efforts on behalf of their students.
  • Assign students to an Attendance Improvement Group that meets regularly (such as every other week). Letters should be mailed home initially informing parents of their child’s participation requirements. Group sessions should involve a reviewing of attendance, grades, and behaviors since the last session; talking about stresses in students’ lives and obstacles to school success; discussing about successes in school, relationships, and healthy habits; and developing of goals and strategies for positive change and healthy coping skills.
  • Have students sign an attendance agreement and making sure they understand the components for improving on-time attendance and making healthy choices, (see appendix for an example). Follow-up with the students to ensure compliance and to reinforce positive behaviors.
  • Have teachers intervene with truant students and their families through various methods including student conferences, parent conferences, phone calls, letters, notes in planner, and e-mails.
  • Enlist student services staff to attend a parent conference to offer advice to parents on ways to improve their child’s attendance and academic performance including giving privileges and giving positive feedback for improved attendance and efforts at academic work. Consider offering school and community resources for academic and counseling assistance.

Tier III Interventions

  • Mail letters home by certified mail that outline legal and school consequences for continued absences (see appendix for examples.)
  • Mentor (school or community based) and meet more frequently with the student.
  • Make home visits to follow-up on parent/child conferences or unsuccessful attempts to contact.
  • Have teachers and those working with the student complete daily or weekly reports that are sent home.
  • Develop a reward system for selected students to help improve their attendance. These students should offer input into incentives that will motive them.
  • Provide individual, frequent counseling and case management.
  • Refer to outside counseling.

Elementary School Interventions

Tier I Interventions

  • Have teachers can incorporate into the curriculum enlisting students to write, “we miss you letters”. For example, one or more students can write letters to students who are chronically absent.
  • Conduct periodic after school activities/programs that are open only to students with certain level of attendance.
  • Establish a reward for classroom, pod, or grade level that has the best attendance or that meets a specific average daily attendance level. Examples could include a banner on the classroom door, invitation to a celebration, or edible treats.
  • Reward students that maintain perfect attendance for a certain time period (such as 20 consecutive days). Examples could include computer time; reading time; opportunity to help design a bulletin board; credit for one wrong item on a test or homework assignment; choice of a class activity; assistance by school personnel (teacher, media specialist, custodian); positive notes home; lunch with the teacher or principal; edible treats or snack coupons from the cafeteria; a pass for permission to not do one homework assignment; and treasure box toys (e.g. pencils, posters, stickers, toys, etc.).

Tier II Interventions

  • Discuss students with attendance concerns at the S-BIT (school based intervention team) to come up with possible interventions and response to intervention. Membership can include the student’s teacher(s), experienced teachers, student services team members, and an administrator.

Tier III Interventions

  • Refer to the Truancy Intervention Program (TIP) operated by the State Attorney’s Office. The school social worker will coordinate sending attendance and academic updates to the State Attorney’s Office and coordinate the attendance of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and others working with the student at meetings.

Middle School Interventions

Tier I Interventions

  • Reward students that maintain perfect attendance for a certain time period (such as 20 consecutive days). Examples could include a pass for permission to not do one assignment or exam; credit for one wrong item on a test or homework assignment; first choice when students must choose homework or writing topics; a snack or drink (especially something popular that not is not available at school); or computer time.
  • Implement a tardy discipline system such as tardy tables. Students that are late to class must check in at a tardy table before entering class (the doors may be locked). The school employee or volunteer at the table will enter the student’s name into a database and issue a consequence (such as lunch detention, in-school suspension, Saturday detention, or loss of privileges) depending on the number of times tardy in a given timeframe such as a quarter. The adult at the table will then write the student a pass to class.
  • Attendance of students must be above a certain level to participate in school activities (clubs, sports, and events) during and after school. If students miss more than a certain number of days in a quarter, they will not be allowed to participate in activities during the next quarter, unless the parent is able to provide documentation or evidence of excused absences to an administrator.

Tier II Interventions

  • Run Saturday truancy programs for students and their families with penalties for nonattendance.
  • Develop school “truancy court”. Parents are sent a letter to appear before a panel with their child at school (which may consist of the school social worker, assistant principal, school resource officer, guidance counselor, and one or more teachers). They explore why the child has missed school, provide suggestions for improvement, and develop a plan. Follow-up meetings and contacts with the student and family are made.

Tier III Interventions

  • Make a referral to Youth and Family Alternatives (YFA) to start a CINS/FINS petition. Refer ungovernable students to Youth and Alternatives (YFA) for assistance.
  • Report students (age 14-18) who have 15 or more unexcused absences in a 90-day period to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) who will suspend their driving permit or license.

High School Interventions

Tier I Interventions

  • Reward students that maintain perfect attendance for a certain time period (such as 10 consecutive days). Examples are a pass for permission to not do one assignment or exam; credit for one wrong item on a test or homework assignment; first choice when students must choose homework or writing topics; a snack or drink (especially something popular that not is not available at school); or computer time.
  • Implement a tardy discipline system such as tardy tables. Students that are late to class must check in at a tardy table before entering class (the doors may be locked). The school employee or volunteer at the table will enter the student’s name into a database and issue a consequence (such as lunch detention, in-school suspension, Saturday detention, or loss of privileges) depending on the number of times tardy in a timeframe such as a quarter. The adult at the table will then write the student a pass to class.
  • Attendance of students must be above a certain level to participate in school activities (clubs, sports, and events) during and after school. If students miss more than a certain number of days in a quarter, they will not be allowed to participate in activities during the next quarter unless the parent is able to provide documentation or evidence of excused absences to an administrator. Students will also lose parking privileges.
  • Provide a “privilege card” to all students who maintain certain standards in grades, attendance, and behavior. Update the list of eligible students on a regular basis (such as once a quarter). Privileges can include access to a special area at lunch, invitation to events, and permission to leave school 5 minutes early.

Tier II Interventions

  • Run Saturday truancy programs for students and their families with penalties for nonattendance.
  • Develop school “truancy court.” Parents are sent a letter to appear before a panel with their child at school that may consist of the school social worker, assistant principal, school resource officer, guidance counselor, and one or more teachers. They explore why the child has missed, provide suggestions for improvement, and develop a plan. Follow-up meetings and contacts with the student and family are made.


Tier III Interventions

  • For student younger than age 16, refer to Youth and Family Alternatives (YFA) to start a CINS/FINS petition. Refer students younger than age 18 who are ungovernable to Youth and Family Alternatives (YFA) for assistance.
  • Report students who have 15 or more unexcused absences in a 90-day period to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) who will suspend their driving permit or license.
  • For students’ ages 16 or older, make final attempts to contact student and parents to develop a plan to return to school or develop an alternate plan (such as enrollment in a GED program or the Job Corps).

Procedures for Monitoring Attendance

Compulsory School Attendance

The following are District procedures adopted to comply with Florida Compulsory Attendance Law, Chapter 1003.21, Florida Statue. Research indicates that information about absences may be the most practical indicator for identifying students in need of early interventions. Patterns of non-attendance and truancy therefore are early warning signs of academic failure. A student’s absenteeism in elementary school can be a predictor of whether a student will dropout of school.

Florida statute requires “all children who have attained the age of 6 years by February 1 of any school year, or who are older than 6 years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years except as otherwise provided, are required to attend school regularly during the entire school term. A student who attains the age of 16 years during the school year is not subject to compulsory school attendance beyond the date upon which he or she attains that age if the student files a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment with the district school board. The declaration must acknowledge that terminating school enrollment is likely to reduce the student’s earning potential and must be signed by the student and the student’s parent/guardian. (See sections on Declaration of Intent to Terminate School Enrollment). Students who attain the age of 18 years or who graduate before the age of 18 are not subject to the compulsory school attendance law.

“Regular school attendance means the actual attendance of a student during the school day as defined by law and rules of the State Board of Education. Regular attendance within the intent of F.S. 1003.21 may be achieved by attendance in: (a) a public school supported by public funds; (b) a parochial, religious, or denominational school; (c) a private school supported in whole or in part by tuition charges or by endowments or gifts; (d) a home education program that meets the requirements of >2011->Chapter 1002 Chapter 1002; or (e) a private tutoring program that meets the requirements of >2011->Chapter 1002 Chapter 1002.”

Excused Absences

Illness or other legitimate causes will be excused with the permission of the parent/guardian and the school principal. At some point, if the excused absences become excessive, the principal may require that a student must have a doctor’s verification for subsequent absences due to illness. In addition, the school shall also have the discretion to require that a statement explaining the reason for such absences and tardiness accompany subsequent absences or tardiness. The legitimacy of a cause for being absent shall be determined by the building principal or designee based on the following criteria:

  1. whether the reason for absence is equivalent in importance to the student’s need to be in attendance;
  2. the needs of the student and the student’s family;
  3. the number of absences accumulated by the student;
  4. other justifiable rationale.

Schools must be notified of excused absences by either personal communication or written explanation from the parent/guardian. If the parent/guardian fails to provide notification, the absence will be recorded as unexcused.

Medical and dental appointments should be made after school hours. When this is not possible, students may be excused to fill these appointments. An excuse from the doctor or parent/guardian is required. Religious holidays or religious instruction: Students may be excused from school for observance of established religious holidays or for religious instruction in accordance with School Board Policy 5223 & 5225.

Unexcused Absences

A representative from the school (i.e., instructional, administrative, clerical and/or support staff) or the use of automated system, must contact the parent/guardian to determine the reason for each unexcused absence or absence for which the reason is unknown. The fact that the student’s parent/guardian knew of the absence does not, in and of itself, require that school personnel record the absence as an excused absence. Absence without notification of school officials by the parent/guardian is considered an unexcused absence. Out-of-school suspensions are considered unexcused absences. The school representative must initiate contact with the parent/guardian either in person, by telephone, or by the automated dialing system to determine the reason for the absence (F.S. 1003.26). If using the automated dialing system, on your message, please request that the parent/guardian contact the school attendance representative. When it is not possible to reach the parent or guardian by telephone, the Parent Notification of Unexcused Absences letter may be used to contact parent/guardian. Given the requirements to obtain parent information regarding the reason for a student’s absence, schools are advised to consider multiple communication strategies to facilitate parent involvement.

SAMPLE DEFINITIONS OF EXCUSED AND UNEXCUSED ABSENCES
Sample definitions of excused and unexcused, established by local policies have been provided below by the Department of Education in the Technical Assistance Paper (TAP) on Compulsory School Attendance (2010-48).
Excused (parent notification/documentation required):
  • Brief student illness/injury
  • Medical/dental appointments
  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Religious holiday of the specific faith of the student (principal approved)
  • Compelled absence (e.g., judicial)
  • Natural/major disaster that would justify absence (principal approved)
  • School-sponsored/related activity (principal approved)
  • Other advance notice absences (principal approved)
  • Insurmountable conditions (principal approved)
Unexcused:
  • Missing school bus/oversleeping
  • Shopping/pleasure/vacation trips
  • Excessive illness (without physician verification that medical condition justifies pattern)
  • Failure to communicate the reason for the absence(s)

Attendance History

The attendance history contains detailed attendance information for all students enrolled in Pasco County Schools for the current school year. A student’s attendance history is located in two places in the TERMS system under the Student Information panels. On The Panel S242 – Daily Summary provides a daily attendance record with excused and unexcused days; the Panel S244 – Absence Detail provides a student’s period-by-period attendance. (Caution should be taken with reviewing attendance data for secondary students from the S242 screen as all six periods must be recorded as an absence in order for the absence to be registered on the S242 screen.)

Compulsory Attendance Reports

In order to ensure the management of attendance at the school, attendance reports should be run on a daily basis. Listed below are reports in TERMS that can be set to the parameters to identify students who maybe demonstrating a pattern of non-attendance.

  • Excessive Absences (Panel S250, Report SB210)
  • Student Absence Summary (Panel S247, Report SB213)
  • Driver’s License Attendance List (Panel L111, SP079)

Five (5) Unexcused Absences

When a student has 5 unexcused absences (excluding out-of-school suspensions), within a calendar month (calendar month equals last 31days), the student’s attendance history shall be reviewed to see if a pattern of non-attendance is occurring. A student with fewer absences may be referred even earlier if a pattern of non-attendance is developing.

  • To identify the students that have missed 5 unexcused absences run the report SB210 or SB213 and set the parameters to capture the U absence code.
  • According to Florida Statute 1003.21, students who are exhibiting a pattern of non-attendance must be referred to the Child Study Team for assistance with the remediation of the problem. The school representative will review this list to determine which students/cases are serious enough to forward to the team.

Ten (10) Unexcused Absences

When a student has 10 unexcused absences (excluding out-of-school suspensions), within a 90-calendar-day period, by law, the student’s attendance history must be reviewed to see if a pattern of non-attendance is occurring.

  • To identify the students that have missed 10 unexcused absences run the report SB210 or SB213 and set the parameters to capture the U absence code.
  • According to Florida Statute 1003.21, students who are exhibiting a pattern of non-attendance must be referred to the Child Study Team for assistance with the remediation of the problem. The school representative will review this list to determine which students/cases are serious enough to forward to the team.

Procedures for Attendance Interventions

Using Early Warning System to Prioritize Students with Excessive Absences

Schools must prioritize which students are actually referred to the team for attendance issues. The use of an Early Warning System at the secondary level is one system that can help in this process. Other suggestions for prioritizing students to be brought before the team due to excessive unexcused absences include:

  • Consider the age of the student. Students who are under age 16 are to be given priority over those ages 16 and over. Schools may also want to consider whether students are age 5 and under should be referred to the team or whether attendance issues for these students should be handled through parent/teacher conferences. Please note that these students are not subject to compulsory attendance.
  • Consider the number of unexcused absences. Students with a high number of unexcused absences and a prior history of excessive absences are to be considered before those students who have no prior history and a low number of unexcused and/or extenuating circumstances shall be taken into consideration.
  • The grade level of the student is to be considered. Schools can set their priorities and schedule students based upon those priorities.
  • Students who are under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) may need to be referred to their DJJ Counselor for follow-up rather than the team.
  • Students whose parents/guardians request services should be given priority.

Fifteen (15) Excused or Unexcused Absences

  • When a student has 15 (year to date) absences, excused or unexcused (excluding out-of-school suspensions), the student should have a doctor’s verification to excuse subsequent absences due to illness. A notification letter is to be mailed to the parent/guardian regarding the absences requesting a doctor’s excuse. The letter must be printed on your school’s letterhead with the principal’s signature. A copy of the student’s attendance history should accompany the letter. Absences not due to illness (vacation, funeral, visiting college, etc.) do not require a doctor’s excuse and may be excused according to district policy.
  • To identify the students that have missed 15 excused or unexcused absences run the report SB210 or SB213 and set the parameters to capture the E and U absence code. Please note, if school officials have previously received medical documentation of a chronic condition for which ongoing absences are anticipated, there is no need to send a notification letter to the parent/guardian.
  • The SB210 or SB213 report can be run to list all students who have attained 15 unexcused absences in the 90-day period up to and including the date selected.
  • The SB210 or SB213 report also lists all students who have attained 15 unexcused absences for the current school year. Run this report monthly. This report also identifies those students who have accumulated 15 or more unexcused absences for the current school year regardless of where they are enrolled. This means that a student’s name could appear on the school’s report, but they may have only been enrolled in your school for one week. This report should assist with identifying students with developing patterns of non-attendance and allows for early intervention. A notification letter is to be mailed to the parent/guardian regarding the absences requesting a doctor’s excuse. The letter must be printed on your school’s letterhead with the principal’s signature. A copy of the student’s attendance history should accompany the letter. Absences not due to illness (vacation, funeral, visiting college, etc.) do not require a doctor’s excuse and may be excused according to district policy.

Tardies/Late/Early Checkouts

A student shall be considered tardy when he or she arrives to school after the beginning of the official school day or is not in the assigned class at the official beginning of a class period. A parent/guardian shall notify the school as to the reason of the tardiness. A late arrival by a student must be documented as part of the daily attendance procedure and must be coded in TERMS.

Tardies and/or early checkouts will be excused with the permission of the parent/guardian and the school principal. The legitimacy of a cause for being tardy or checked out early shall be determined by the building principal or designee based on the following criteria: (a) whether the reason for being tardy is equivalent in importance to the student’s need to be in attendance; (b) the needs of the student and the student’s family; (c) the number of days tardy accumulated by the student; (d) other justifiable rationale.

Suggested Definitions for Excused or Unexcused Tardies/Checkouts

An excused tardy is given when a student is late for school/class due to

  • sickness or injury
  • death in the family
  • automobile accident
  • medical or dental appointments with a note from the doctor
  • court date
  • school sponsored activities, or
  • other reasons approved by the school principal

All of the reasons above would be applicable for an excused checkout except the student being late for school/class due to sickness or injury. An unexcused tardy is given as determined by the school principal or when a student is late for school/class due to, but not limited to

  • oversleeping
  • missing the school bus
  • shopping trips
  • pleasure trips, or
  • an excessive number of tardies due to illness without a doctor’s verification that the medical condition justifies the student’s tardiness.

An unexcused checkout will be given if the student is being released to avoid traffic congestion, going to work (not otherwise approved, i.e., on-the-job training), shopping trips, pleasure trips, or other reasons not approved by the principal.

NOTE: Effective July 1, 2006, two changes were made in the compulsory attendance laws for public school children:

  1. School boards are authorized to establish policies that allow accumulated unexcused tardies regardless of when they occur during the school day, and early departures from school to be recorded as unexcused absences F.S. 1003.02(1)(b).
  2. A public school student who has attained the age of 16 years and has not graduated is subject to compulsory school attendance until a signed Declaration of Intent to Terminate Enrollment document is filed with the school board. (See section on Declaration of Intent to Terminate School Enrollment for further details on this subject, Link) The school counselor or other school personnel must conduct an exit interview with the student to determine the reasons for their decision to terminate school enrollment and actions that could be taken to keep the student in school F.S. 1003.21(2).

Attendance Codes

CODE

DESCRIPTION

GRADE LEVEL

EXCUSED/UNEXCUSED

COUNTS AS ABSENCE

C

Clinic

6 - 12

E

No

D

Death in Family

6 - 12

E

Yes

E

Excused Absence

PK – 31

E

Yes

F

Field Trip/School Activity

6 - 12

E

No

G

Guidance

6 - 12

E

No

H

Tardy Hall

6 - 12

U

No

I

In – School Suspension School

6 - 12

E

No

J

Judicial

6 - 12

E

Yes

L

Early Dismissal

6 - 31

E

Yes

M

Medical

6 - 31

E

Yes

N

No Show (1st 10 Days of School)

PK - 12

E

No

O

Out-of-School Suspension

PK - 31

U

Yes

P

Principal/Administrative Pass

6 - 12

E

No

R

Religious

6 - 12

E

Yes

S

Skipping

6 - 12

U

Yes

U

Unexcused Absence

PK - 31

U

Yes

T

Tardy

PK - 31

N/A

No

School-Based Intervention Team (S-BIT)

A Multi-Tiered System of Student Supports (MTSSS) is a research-based strategy that seeks to ensure that individual, class-wide, and school-wide problems are addressed systematically and that important educational decisions are based on data that is collected frequently over time. The foundation of MTSSS is to develop positive solutions for every child, not just for those students being considered for Exceptional Student Education (ESE). Within this context, School-Based Intervention Teams (S-BIT) examine all factors that may be impacting academic success for students (i.e., Instruction, Curriculum, Environment, and Learner-centered variables).

Pasco County School-Based Intervention Teams are intervention driven/progress monitoring teams at each school, which assist students, families, and teachers in seeking positive solutions for all students. A critical component of MTSSS is the collaboration of all stakeholders within the school community. By tapping into the expertise of these professionals, as well as parents/guardians, the team is more likely to accurately determine the cause of the student’s problem and subsequently to develop effective solutions.

The S-BIT Chair, school representative, and/or school social worker reviews the TERMS Compulsory Attendance Reports to determine which students/cases are serious enough to forward to the team. Data determines whether the problem should be addressed through the S-BIT or through a meeting designated for attendance concerns only. In the latter case, invitations to the S-BIT meeting should be made to the school social worker and parents/guardians, and may exclude other members of the S-BIT (i.e., school psychologist, content area specialists, etc.). However, students who also demonstrate academic and/or behavioral concerns for reasons beyond poor attendance should be referred to the S-BIT and the standard S-BIT procedures should be followed. Parents/guardians are invited to the S-BIT meeting by using the Parent Invitation (example letter) letter.

Through the MTSS model, the team may implement interventions that best address the concerns, such as an Attendance Agreement, frequent communication between the teacher and the family, home visit, etc. An Attendance Agreement (click here for example) may be completed at this time, if appropriate, and a copy given to the parents/guardians. If parents/guardians are not in attendance at the meeting, a member of the school should contact the parents/guardians to inform them of the interventions that have been recommended and provide them with a copy of the S-BIT minutes. If the team agrees that the response to the interventions has not been satisfactory, then a recommendation that the case be referred to the school social worker to initiate either a Truancy Intervention Program (TIP) referral for elementary students or a Child In Need of Services/Family in Need of Services (CINS/FINS) referral for middle and high school students under the age of 16. (See section on TIP and CINS/FINS referral)

If the initial meeting does not resolve the problem, the S-BIT may implement other interventions, which may include but need not be limited to:

Changes in the learning environment

  • Mentoring
  • Counseling
  • Tutoring, including peer tutoring
  • Placement into a different class
  • Evaluation for alternative education programs
  • Recommending evaluations to rule out medical problems
  • Referral to other agencies for family services
  • Referral to the school social worker

Please refer to the section on Multiple Tiers of Support for School Engagement (Link) for additional strategies.

Procedures for Addressing Absences

  1. Upon each unexcused absence, or absence for which the reason is unknown, the school representative (i.e., administrative, instructional, clerical, and/or support staff) must contact the parent/guardian to determine the reason for the absence. Notification can be done through phone calls, automated dialing system or personal contact with the parent/guardian. For households with no phone or schools not using automated dialing system, the Parent Notification of Unexcused Absences letter (example) may be used to contact the parent/guardian. Parents/guardians should be encouraged to utilize the eSembler to access information about their child.
  2. Teachers should take every opportunity to notify parents/guardians of developing patterns of non-attendance and determine the cause. Parent/guardian contact must be made or attempted prior to referral to the S-BIT and/or attendance team. The Student Data Collection: Parent Contacts & Staff Consultations (example) can be utilized to document parent/guardian contacts and consultation with the school social worker and other staff. If the teacher or the school staff has exhausted all attempts to contact the parent/guardian (i.e., phone calls, phone messages, letters, notes, etc.), a referral to the S-BIT or school attendance team is warranted.
  3. If a student has had at least 5 unexcused absences within a calendar month or 10 unexcused absences within a 90-calendar-day period (excluding out-of-school suspensions), written communication should go home. Five and Ten day letters can be printed directly from TERMS. In addition, school personnel should evaluate the attendance to determine if a pattern of non-attendance is developing. A student with fewer absences may be referred even earlier if a pattern of non-attendance is developing. Unless there is clear evidence that the absences are not a pattern of non-attendance, the principal or designee shall refer the case to the S-BIT or school attendance team. If the S-BIT or team determines that a pattern of non-attendance is developing, whether the absences are excused or not, a meeting with the parent/guardian must be scheduled to identify potential remedies.
  4. A referral should be made to the school social worker if interventions implemented by the S-BIT are not successful in resolving the truancy problems.
  5. When a student has accumulated 15 unexcused absences (excluding out-of-school suspensions) within a 90-calendar-day period they have met the state’s legal definition of habitual truancy. After appropriate interventions by the S-BIT have been implemented, a referral may be forwarded to the agencies identified in F.S. 1003.27, if the truancy issue is not resolved.
  6. When a student reaches the age of 16, in order not to be subject to compulsory school attendance, the student must file a formal declaration with the school district acknowledging their intent to terminate enrollment in the school district. The declaration must acknowledge that terminating school enrollment is likely to reduce the student’s earning potential and must be signed by both the student and the parent/guardian. The school counselor or other school personnel must conduct an exit interview with the student to determine the reasons for their decision to terminate school enrollment and actions that could be taken to keep the student in school. The student must be informed of opportunities to continue their education in a different environment, including adult education and GED test preparation. Additionally, the student must complete a survey intended to provide data on their reason for terminating enrollment and the actions taken by the school to keep the student enrolled in school. The Department of Education provides a prescribed format for the Student Survey. (Florida Department of Education Exit Interview Student Survey) This district has adopted the formats provided by the Department of Education and our school counselors and MIS Department maintains the compliance of these surveys being completed.
  7. If a family notifies the school of their plans to leave for an extended amount of time, school staff should encourage them to enroll their child (ren) in the school district where they are temporarily residing. If they agree, withdraw the student(s) with the appropriate code. If the family indicates that the student(s) will be returning on a specific date, then they must not be withdrawn. If it is learned that a family has left, but the parent/guardian neglected to notify the school, the school should follow-up as with any attendance situation when a student is not attending. Attempt phone contact and/or send a letter, and if no response is received within a reasonable amount of time, the school is to follow-up with a referral to the school social worker in attempts to obtain information on the status of the student. If a student is not attending school even after proper procedures have been exhausted, schools may contact Student Services for consultation.
  8. A student who attains the age of 18 years during the school year is not subject to compulsory school attendance beyond the date upon which he or she attains that age. Before withdrawing such students, please ensure that the attendance record verifies an all-day account of the absences.

Habitual Truancy

As defined in Section 1003.01(8), Florida Statutes, a habitual truant is defined as a student who has accumulated 15 unexcused absences within a 90-calendar-day period with or without the knowledge or consent of the student’s parent/guardian; and a student who is not exempt from attendance by the virtue of being over the age of compulsory school attendance by meeting criteria in F.S. Sections 1003.21 or 1003.24, or by meeting the criteria for any exemption specified by law or rules of the State Board of Education. Such a student must have been the subject of the activities specified in F.S. Sections 1003.26 and 1003.27, without resultant successful remediation of the truancy problem before being dealt with as a “child in the need of services” according to the provisions of >2011->Chapter984 F.S. Chapter 984.

When a student is habitually truant, the principal must ensure that the following actions required by procedures developed by the superintendent in accordance with statutory requirements have been followed, in order to determine the cause and attempt the remediation of the student’s truancy.

Truancy Intervention Program (T.I.P.)

T.I.P. is a collaborative effort between the Office of the State Attorney and the Pasco County School District. This initiative is designed to assist schools with improving the attendance of students who meet specific criteria relative to their attendance concerns. The Office of the State Attorney generates communication via letters requesting that the parent/guardian comply with the recommendations of the School-Based Intervention Team. The S-BIT includes the school social worker, student’s teacher, school administrator, school counselor, and any other interested parties.

If the School-Based Intervention Team determines that a student’s attendance has not improved, the team may initiate a Truancy Intervention Program (T.I.P.) Referral needs to be sent to the State Attorney’s Office.

Child in Need of Services/Family in Need of Services (CINS/FINS)

CINS/FINS is a prevention program that addresses the needs of youth, ages 10-17, who are truant or ungovernable or who persistently run away. A CINS/FINS counselor assesses the problems of the youth, than works with the family to secure the best possible remedies. If the youth continues to exhibit the problem behaviors, the student and parent/guardian may be ordered to appear at a CINS Case Staffing where a petition may be filed with the court to have the youth adjudicated CINS. The court may order placement at a youth shelter for up to 35 days. Other aspects of the program, including crisis counseling, are designed to help the youth in achieving more control over his or her behavior.

Special Circumstances

Ungovernable Students

If a parent/guardian reports to the School-Based Intervention Team or other school representative that a student is ungovernable and will not comply with attempts to enforce school attendance, a referral shall be made to Youth and Family Alternatives for CINS/FINS services. A parent/guardian can initiate a call to the agency for ungovernable and runaway reasons.

Home Education

If the parent/guardian of a child who has been identified as exhibiting a pattern of non-attendance enrolls the child in a home education program pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 1002, the principal/ designee or school social worker shall refer the parent/guardian to the District Home Education Contact for inclusion in the portfolio review process, as outlined in F.S. Chapter 1003.26 (1) (f). The portfolio review process shall be implemented by the Home Education Office on a monthly basis until the Home Education Review Committee is satisfied that the student’s home education program is in compliance with F.S. Section 1002.41. The first portfolio review must occur within the first 30 calendar days of the establishment of the home education program.

If a parent of a student who has been found to exhibit a pattern of non-attendance and who has been enrolled in home education fails to provide a portfolio for review, the Home Education Review Committee shall notify the superintendent or their designee who shall then terminate the home education program and require the parent to enroll the student in an attendance option provided under F.S. Section 1003.01(13)(a), (b), (c), or (e), within three days. Failure of a parent or guardian to enroll a student in an attendance option after termination of a home education program shall constitute non-compliance with the compulsory attendance requirements and may result in criminal prosecution of the parent under F.S. Section 1003.27(2). When a student has been terminated from home education, they are not eligible for re-enrollment for 180 calendar days.

Driving Privileges

Section 322.091, Florida Statutes requires students to attend school in order to maintain their driving privileges. This statute was enacted to reduce truancy and ensure that schools respond in a timely manner to student non-attendance. Section 1003.27, Florida Statutes requires schools to report the name, birth date, sex, and social security number of any minor who attains the age of 14 and accumulates 15 unexcused absences in a 90-calendar-day period to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). To comply or reinstate license, the student must attend 30 consecutive school days without any unexcused absences.

Schools must notify students and parents/guardians that filing a declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment will initiate action by DHSMV as follows: licensed minors will lose their driving privilege unless they comply with attendance requirements and unlicensed minors may not apply for a license until relevant attendance requirements are satisfied or the student reaches the age of 18.

A student may request a hardship waiver from the building principal for personal or family hardships (employment or medical care). If the request is denied, the student may appeal the denial to the District Student Placement Committee. If the appeal is denied, the student may then pursue the matter through a hearing before the school board. For more information, please consult the 2011-2012 Driver’s License Memo & Procedures.

Learnfare Program

The Learnfare Program is primarily related to student attendance for families who are eligible to receive temporary cash assistance (TCA). Section 414.1251, Florida Statutes requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to reduce the amount of TCA to families of students who are identified as habitual truants or dropouts. Implementation procedures require DCF to notify school districts of eligible students. In turn, the appropriate school district identifies those students who are habitual truants or dropouts to DCF. DCF then reviews the case record to make certain determinations. If good cause does not exist, the parent of a student who is habitually truant or a dropout receives notices of possible reduction of the benefit amount.

If a sanction is imposed to the benefit amount, the student may be reinstated when: the truant student’s substantially improved attendance is confirmed during a subsequent grading period is confirmed; or after a student who has dropped out of school re-enrolls in school, receives a high school diploma or its equivalent, enrolls in preparation for the GED, or enrolls in another educational activity approved by the district school board. For more information, please consult the Learnfare Program TAP.

The Rilya Wilson Act

The Rilya Wilson Act F.S. Section 39.604 requires that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or the community-based care lead agency notify operators of licensed early education or child care programs, including school districts’ programs, when designated children are enrolled in their program. These measures are designed as an additional safeguard to ensure the safety of children between the ages of three and Kindergarten entry age who are under court-ordered protective supervision or in the custody of the Family Safety Program of DCF or a community-based agency.

Students that meet the requirements established in the law will only be permitted to withdraw from a school district-operated program with written approval from the Family Safety Program of DCF or the community-based care lead agency.

It is the intent of the Department of Education that school districts report each unexcused absence or seven consecutive excused absences of children covered by the Act and enrolled in a district-operated early education or childcare program to the local staff of the Family Safety Program of DCF or the community-based care lead agency by the end of the business day following an unexcused absence or following the seventh consecutive excused absence. Consistent with the requirements in the Rilya Wilson Act, DCF or the community-based care lead agency will conduct a home visit upon receiving two consecutive reports of unexcused absences or a report of seven consecutive excused absences.

Foster Care Students

State and federal laws for foster care students are based on evidence of need across a wide continuum, including but not limited to, educational stability; transition between schools; school attendance and completion; and truancy prevention. This provision associated with Florida law requires an interagency agreement between state agencies, including the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Education, the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Agency of Workforce Innovation (AWI). The agreement is intended to provide educational access for the purpose of facilitating the delivery of services or program to children who are in foster care.

Military Dependents Students

Setion 1000.36, Article V(E), Florida Statutes, Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, states that a student whose parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the uniformed services, as defined by the Compact, and has been called to duty for, or is on leave from, or immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, shall be granted additional excused absences at the discretion of the school superintendent. The additional excused absences are to allow the student to visit with his or her parent or legal guardian for the reasons specified.

Section 1003.05(3), Florida Statutes, provides additional information regarding the smooth transition to school districts for military dependents and gives first preference to special academic programs, including magnet programs.

Teenage Parent Students

Section 1003.54, Florida Statutes states that students participating in teenage parent programs are exempt from minimum attendance requirements for absences related to pregnancy or parenting; however, they are required to make up work missed due to their absences. For absences other than those due to pregnancy or parenting, teenage parent program students are subject to district policy regarding regular attendance. Teenage parents who do not participate in the teenage parent program are not exempt from district minimum attendance requirements

Married Students

A student over the age of 16 is no longer required to attend school if the student formally terminates school enrollment, according to Section 1003.21, Florida Statutes. A student of compulsory school age who is married is not exempt from compulsory attendance requirements by virtue of their marital status. However, Section 743.01, Florida Statutes states (in part), “the disability of non-age” is removed for a minor who is married, has been married, or becomes married. Therefore, if a married minor elects to file a Declaration of Intent to Terminate School Enrollment, only the minor is required to sign the document.

Hospital/Homebound (HHB) Services

According to Rule 6A-6.03020, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), the possibility of HHB services should be explored when it is anticipated that a student will be absent from school for at least 15 school days, or the equivalent, while under a physician’s care because of severe, prolonged, or chronic illness. A parent, teacher, school nurse, school social worker, school counselor, physician, and others may initiate the process as soon as it is anticipated that the student will be absent for the duration specified in the rule. There is no established waiting period that must be met when considering initiating the process.

Immunization

Prior to admittance to or attendance in school, each child must present or have on file with the school a certification of immunization for the prevention of those communicable diseases for which immunization is required by the Department of Health. A homeless child shall be given a temporary exemption for 30 school days to meet this requirement.

Students Living in Homeless Situations

Students who meet the definition of homelessness often experience academic, attendance, and behavior problems. Since homeless students may frequently move to different schools due to housing instability, learning problems may not always be detected. The Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensures educational rights and protections for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Upon identification of a student who appears to meet the definition of a homeless student, school personnel should have the family complete the Domicile Form and fax this to the Students In Transition (SiT) team. For students who are having academic and/or behavioral concerns, targeted interventions should be implemented.

The Education of Homeless Children and Youth Manual provides additional information and technical assistance associated with educational opportunities for students who are homeless.

Head Lice

If a student is identified as having head lice at school, the proper Pediculosis Control procedures must be followed. Please refer to the “Even Nice People Get Lice: Educational Guide” for specific information. If properly treated, the student should be able to return the next school day. If the student’s absence is prolonged, the absence will be unexcused and the family must be contacted and further assistance offered.

Did Not Enter (DNE) and Terminating School Enrollment

Guidelines For Handling “Did Not Enter” (DNE’s)

  1. By the end of the first week of school, school personnel should cross-reference their records requests with their list of students who have not entered in order to determine if students have enrolled elsewhere.
  2. If no records requests have been received for DNE students, school personnel should try to contact the parents/guardians at their last known home, work, or emergency phone number. If unable to make contact by phone, a letter should be sent to the home address advising the parent/guardian to enroll the student or provide the school with information regarding the student’s current enrollment status. (Did Not Enter (DNE) Note)
  3. If no response is received from the letter, a referral shall be made to the school social worker no later than the 20th day of school. The copy of the student demographic/enrollment for each non-enrolled child, along with a list of students who have not enrolled, is to be sent to the school social worker. Insert the matrix Ramon developed.
  4. School social workers will take the necessary steps to determine the current whereabouts of the non-enrolled students and report back to the school with their findings to the school.
  5. When no valid reason for a student’s non-enrollment is found, the school social worker shall prepare a 3-Day Non-Enrollment Letter. This written notice may be delivered in person or mailed certified with return-receipt to the parent/guardian. The letter requires the student’s enrollment and attendance within three days of receipt of the notice.

Declaration of Intent to Terminate School Enrollment

Prior to withdrawing a student between the ages of 16 to 18 for non-attendance, the student and parent/guardian must file a formal declaration acknowledging the student’s intent to terminate school enrollment. This formal statement acknowledges that terminating school enrollment is likely to reduce a student’s earning potential. The school counselor or other school personnel must conduct an exit interview with the student to determine the reasons for the student’s decision to terminate school enrollment and actions that could be taken to keep the student in school. The student must be informed of opportunities to continue his or her education in a different environment. The Florida Department of Education provides a format that district personnel may choose to utilize when conducting the Exit Interview (Declaration of Intent to Terminate Enrollment). The student must be informed of opportunities to continue his education in a different environment, including, but not limited to, adult education and GED test preparation. Additionally, the student must complete a Student Survey form in a format prescribed by DOE, to provide data on the reasons for terminating enrollment and actions taken by the school to keep student enrolled. The 2009-2010 Student Survey contains specific questions and has been reformatted, for reporting purposes, to include a new data element.

For students who are considering terminating school enrollment, the exit interview is the most appropriate forum to offer parents/guardians and students advisement on educational alternatives as well as making them aware of sanctions related to non-attendance. For example, possible sanctions for students who withdraw from school with a dropout withdrawal code include, but are not limited to, potential loss of driving privileges and possible reduction of temporary cash assistance for eligible Learnfare Program participants.

  1. Once these forms have been completed by the student and the parent/guardian, the student can officially be withdrawn from school as “W05” – Any student over compulsory attendance age who leaves school voluntarily with no intention of returning. A student cannot be withdrawn due to non-attendance unless a Declaration of Intent to Terminate Enrollment, Exit Interview, and Student Survey has been completed.
  2. If the student and parent/guardian refuse to sign the declaration, the student must remain on the Attendance History File and recorded as being absent “unexcused” until the student returns to school or the declaration form is completed.
  3. If a school administrator or school social worker obtains information that the student no longer resides at the address on file with the school and efforts to obtain the correct address are unsuccessful, the student may be withdrawn from school as “W22” – Any student whose whereabouts are unknown.

Guidelines for Withdrawing Students Due to Non-Attendance

According to DOE guidelines, a school is not authorized to withdraw a student for non-attendance as long as the student attends school, even if the student attends sporadically. When a student is withdrawn from enrollment without documentation of good faith efforts to satisfy state intervention and enforcement requirements Section 1003.26 and Section 1003.27, Florida Statutes), the school’s actions are in direct conflict with the intent and provisions of these state attendance laws and related mandates. Specifically, these mandates include attendance required to maintain driving privileges and services upon referral to child-in-need-of-service (CINS) providers.

A student may only be withdrawn as code “W15” – any PK-12 student who is withdrawn from school due to non-attendance, after all procedures outlined in Section 1003.26 and Section 1003.27, Florida Statutes, have been followed. (See withdrawal matrix to assist in decision-making).

Withdrawal Code “W23” – withdrawn due to other reasons, should not be used unless all other avenues have been exhausted and the district specifically approves its use.

Data accuracy is essential and should always be considered by viewing the student’s attendance history prior to withdrawing due to non-attendance.

If the school has been notified that the student has no intention of returning, or if the student has not been attending, the student should be referred to the school counselor to explore options. If the ultimate decision of withdrawing is made, then the Exit Interview and Student Survey must be completed. It is recommended that the student sign the Declaration of Intent to Terminate Enrollment so that the student can be withdrawn with code “W05.” (See section on Declaration of Intent to Terminate School Enrollment for further details on this subject) When the student’s age does not fall under compulsory attendance age, the signature of a parent/guardian is not required.

If a student did not enter for the new school year as expected and is withdrawn with a Withdrawal Code of “DNE,” an inquiry should be attempted to verify status. Please follow the Guidelines For Handling “Did Not Enter” (DNE’s). If contact is made and it is determined the student will not be returning, follow the above directions. If the student refuses or is not available to sign the Declaration of Intent to Terminate Enrollment Withdrawal Code “W15” may be used.

For ESE students age 18 and not attending school, please refer to the ESE administrator for guidelines when withdrawing for non-attendance.

Please be reminded that if new information on the student’s status is received at a later date, the Withdrawal Code should be updated, i.e., receipt of a records request.

Use code “W22” for withdrawing students whose whereabouts are unknown, and an official determination has been made by the school social worker or school administrator.

District Note: Use code “W15” for students age 18 or older that are no longer attending and are not available to sign the Declaration of Intent to Terminate Enrollment. It is suggested to contact the parents/guardians to verify status prior to withdrawing. If students are available to sign the form, please refer them to Withdrawal Code “W05.”

Guidelines for Addressing Attendance Issues with ESE Students

  1. Schedule an Individual Education Plan (IEP) review.
  2. Use the Invitation to Staffing Student to notify/invite parents/guardians to the meeting. Notice should be marked that parent/guardian participation is requested. Under the Purpose of the Meeting, check IEP and/or change in FAPE Services and type Review Attendance Concerns.
  3. The meeting should consist of all required members of the IEP team. The Guidelines for Handling Cases of Excessive Absences from School should be followed as closely as possible.
  4. Attendance revisions need to be included in the Present Level Statement and goal section.
  5. Any changes to the current IEP must be documented. Implement the strategies indicated.
  6. A referral to the school social worker may be initiated after steps 1-5 above have been followed.
  7. Additional IEP reviews may be scheduled at the discretion of the IEP team in an effort to implement a variety of interventions.
  8. In the event that all appropriate interventions have been exhausted and proven unsuccessful, a referral to the school social worker addressing the attendance issue and interventions tried should be initiated.

NOTE: Attendance should be reviewed when unexcused absences exceed 10 days, or when a pattern of non-attendance is developing, or if there has been prior parental contact in reference to attendance.

Guidelines for Withdrawing ESE Students 18 Years and Older Due to Non-Attendance

  1. Schedule an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting to discuss the student’s attendance. The school social worker should be invited to attend.
  2. Although the student is 18, the parent/guardian should be informed/invited regarding the meeting. Use the Invitation to Staffing to notify/invite parent/guardian to the meeting. Mark on the invitation that parent/guardian participation is requested. Under the Purpose of the Meeting, check IEP and/or change in FAPE services and type Review Attendance Concerns. Ensure two contacts have been made (one must be in writing) to the parent/guardian and student.
  3. If the parent/guardian and student do not attend, the IEP team can proceed to discuss attendance as long as two or more contacts were made and documented.
  4. The meeting should consist of all required members of the IEP team, including the student’s teacher. The Guidelines for Handling Cases of Excessive Absences from School should be followed as closely as possible.
  5. Determine if ESE placement and services are appropriate and if any additional services can be offered that will assist the student in maintaining regular school attendance. Any changes to the current IEP must be documented. Implement the strategies indicated.
  6. Develop an Attendance Agreement with the student and parent/guardian outlining expected behavior and outcome based upon the services recommended. Include the input of parents/guardians in this process. Obtain the signatures of students and parents/guardians.
  7. If the parent/guardian and student are not in attendance and the IEP team recommends that an Attendance Agreement be completed, send a copy of the agreement requesting a signature, contact person information, and a copy of the IEP to the parent/guardian and student in the mail.
  8. Indicate on the IEP a reasonable timeline (i.e., 4-6 weeks) in which to receive a response and for improvement to occur. Reasonable time should be considered for the implementation of the Attendance Agreement.
  9. If no improvement in attendance is achieved, send the parent/guardian and student the Notification of Intent to Withdraw ESE Students or a letter with similar content. (The date to be withdrawn and name/phone number of ESE Case Manager should be noted on the letter.) If the team conducts a follow-up meeting as part of the IEP review, then a copy of the notification letter should be placed in the ESE File (red). If not, then the letter should be filed in the student’s cum record.
  10. If the school does not receive a response or the student does not return to school by the date stated on the letter, student may be withdrawn. Send the parent/guardian and student the Withdrawal Notice for ESE Students or a notice with similar content. Indicate on the notice that if the student wishes to re-enroll in school at a later date, he/she may do so until their 22nd birthday.
  11. Place copies of all documents in the ESE File (red) for further reference if required.

Contacts

Social Work Services (4-2442)

District Homeless Liaison - SiT Team (4-4980)

Exceptional Student Education (4-2600)

Home Education (4-2782)

Hospital Homebound-ESE (4-2600)

Multi-Tiered Systems of Student Support - Office for Teaching and Learning (4-2246)

TERMS Help Desk (4-2848)

Automated Dialing System Support (4-2416)