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Public education is a right available to all young people of school age in Montgomery County.  It is provided at considerable expense to parents and other citizens of the county.

Student attendance is a cooperative effort among schools, parents, and students.  To achieve optimum learning, good attendance by students K-12 is crucial.  Tardies (check-ins) and early dismissals (checkouts) are disruptive to the instructional time of the entire class.  Each parent or guardian is responsible for the student’s regular and punctual attendance.

Regular class attendance is considered by the Montgomery County School Board to be essential to the educational process and to the satisfactory completion of the requirements of any class and subject offered.  Regular school attendance also is directly related to the development of good habits, which are important in the world of work and in higher education.  A ninety-five percent (95%) or better attendance rate is the goal.

School personnel shall recognize their responsibilities to motivate students to attend school and to conduct the curriculum in such a manner as to provide for the individual needs of students.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to limit in any way the authority of any attendance officer or the division superintendent to seek immediate compliance with the compulsory attendance law.

Compulsory Attendance Procedures

A reasonable effort will be made to contact a parent/guardian of each absent student every day and to obtain an explanation for the student’s absence, where there is no indication that the student’s parent is aware of and supports the absence.

The following procedures apply when a student fails to report to school for scheduled school days:

Upon Fifth Absence Without Parental Awareness and Support:

After a total of five (5) scheduled school days missed, where there is no indication that the student’s parent is aware of and supports the absences, the principal or the principal’s designee will make a reasonable effort to ensure that direct contact is made with the parent, in person, through a telephone conversation, or through the use of other communications devices to obtain an explanation for the pupil’s absence and to explain to the parent consequences of continued non-attendance. The principal or the principal’s designee, the pupil, and the pupil’s parent will develop a plan to resolve the pupil’s non-attendance. The plan must include documentation of the reasons for the pupil’s non-attendance.

Additional Absences Without Parental Awareness and Support:

If the pupil is absent for more than one additional day after direct contact with the pupil’s parent, and school personnel have received no indication that the pupil’s parent is aware of and supports the pupil’s absence, the principal or the principal’s designee shall schedule a conference with the pupil, his/her parent, and school personnel. Such conference may include the attendance officer and other community service providers to resolve issues related to the pupils nonattendance. The conference shall be held no later than ten (10) school days after the tenth absence of the pupil, regardless of whether his parent approves of the conference.

The conference team shall monitor the pupil's attendance and may meet again as necessary to address concerns and plan additional interventions if attendance does not improve. In circumstances in which the parent is intentionally noncompliant with compulsory attendance requirements or the pupil is resisting parental efforts to comply with compulsory attendance requirements, the principal or his designee shall make a referral to the attendance officer. The attendance officer shall schedule a conference with the pupil and his parent within 10 school days and may: file a complaint with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court alleging that the pupil is a child in need of supervision as defined in Virginia Code § 16.1-228; and/or institute proceedings against the parents pursuant to § 18.2-371 or § 22.1-262. In filing a complaint against the parents, the division superintendent’s designee shall provide written documentation of the efforts already undertaken to resolve the pupil’s absence. If the student’s parents have joint physical custody of the student and the school has notice of the custody arrangement, then both parents shall be notified at their last known addresses.

Ten or More Undocumented Absences Without Parental Awareness and Support:

If the pupil has ten or more undocumented absences, the principal, or his or her designee, in addition to any other actions required by applicable law or this Policy, may petition the juvenile and domestic relations court to suspend the pupil’s driver’s license.

Student Absences/Tardies/Early Dismissals

Student absences, tardies, check-ins, and checkouts will be recorded on a daily basis for each class in the following manner:
a. A student is counted present only when he/she is present in the classroom or other approved designated area at the time of the tardy bell or is attending or participating in an approved school-sponsored field trip or event.
b. A student reporting after the tardy bell or after the designated starting time for the class period will be recorded as present and tardy.
c. If a student is being transported by a County bus or vehicle that arrives late, the student will not be counted as tardy. 
d. A student shall be considered absent when he/she does not report to class during the class period. 
e. A student who reports to the school attendance office late, with or without documentation will be marked as a check-in.
f. A student who requests an early dismissal with documentation shall be marked as a checkout at the school attendance office. 
g. At the beginning of the school year, teachers should inform students of how the tardy policy is implemented in their classrooms for middle and high school students.

Teachers are responsible for initiating the necessary communications with parents any time absences, check-ins or checkouts are jeopardizing the student’s progress in class.  Absences for each grading period will be reported to the parent(s)/guardian(s) on the report card.  

For elementary school students, if a student misses five (5) days within any grading period, a letter may be sent to the parent to encourage improved attendance.   Retention may be considered for any student missing twenty (20) days of school.

Documenting Absences

All absences shall be identified as excused or unexcused. Each student should present to the school attendance office a written note which includes the date(s), cause(s), and the parent’s/guardian’s signature for daily absences, early dismissal or late arrival of the student.  Parental permission for early dismissal must be presented to school officials on or before the day requested.  Notes of explanation for student absences or check-ins should be received the day following the absence or check-in. 

Absences for any of the reasons listed below shall be excused.

a. state mandated testing or other school/division testing programs;
b. school-sponsored field trips or activities;
c. all VHSL activities;
d. late bus or buses which fail to run;
e. conference with guidance counselor, administrator, or other related staff members;
f. in-school suspension (I.S.S.);  
g. involuntary court appearance (copy of court order or subpoena required);
h. death in the family or household (verification may be required);
i. religious holidays (verification may be required);

j. college visit or work based learning opportunity (verification required) up to 3 school days

k. illness, including mental health and wellbeing (if over 3 days, the school may require verification)

l. doctor/dental appointments (verification required)

m. extenuating circumstances which are determined by school administration

Any excessive check-ins, checkouts, or patterns of absences may result in administrative intervention including the development of an attendance improvement plan and/or disciplinary action.

All notes of excuse, requests, or any other correspondence concerning student absences, check-ins, and check-outs shall be preserved for a minimum of sixty (60) calendar days after the close of the school year.

Make-Up Work

It shall be the responsibility of the student and/or parent to request make-up work for absences and for the student to complete all assigned make-up work within one school day for every day missed  (Example:  miss 3 days, 3 school days to make up the work) unless the teacher extends his/her time.  Teachers shall have the discretion to extend the time limit because of extenuating circumstances.  Make-up work shall be provided for all absences, including absences caused by out-of-school suspensions.

Absences for Observance of a Religious Holiday

A student may be excused from school for the observance of a religious holiday.  The parent/guardian of such student shall provide a letter to the student’s school in advance of the planned absence notifying the school of the planned absence, the dates of the planned absence and the religious holiday being observed. 

A student who is absent in accordance with this policy shall not be deprived of any award or eligibility or opportunity to compete for any award, or of the right to take an alternate test or examination, for any which he or she missed by reason of such absence.  Make-up work shall be completed as described in “Make-Up Work,” above.

Absences for Civic Events

Subject to guidelines established by the Department of Education, one school day-long excused absence per school year for any middle school or high school student in the school division who is absent from school to engage in a civic event shall be permitted and additional excused absences may be permitted for such students who are absent for such purpose. Advanced notice must be provided by the student of the intended absence and the student must also provide documentation of participation in a civic event.

Absences for Pow Wows

Subject to guidelines established by the Department, any student who is a member of a state-recognized or federally recognized tribal nation that is headquartered in the Commonwealth and who is absent from school to attend such tribal nation's pow wow gathering shall be granted one excused absence per academic year, provided that the parent of such student provides to the student's school advance notice of such absence in the manner required by the school.

Absences for 4-H Educational Programs and Activities

No student who misses a partial or full day of school while participating in a 4-H educational program or activity shall be counted as absent for the purposes of calculating average daily membership and each such student shall receive course credit in the same manner as he would for a school field trip, provided that:
1. The school board shall develop policies and procedures for such students to make up missed work;
2. The school board may determine the maximum number of school days per academic year that a student may spend participating in 4-H educational programs or activities to not be counted absent; and
3. No school shall provide course credit to a student pursuant this policy if the student's participation in a 4-H educational program or activity occurs during scheduled Standards of Learning assessments or during any period of time that the student is suspended or expelled from school.
Upon request from a school principal or an assistant principal, an agent or representative from 4-H shall provide documentation as proof of a student's participation in an activity or program sponsored by 4-H.