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Promoting Attendance

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin is asking that all parents and community members join together to assist the school division in promoting good attendance throughout the school year.

“Parents that make regular school attendance a priority are helping their children learn to accept responsibility, an important life skill,” noted Dr. Griffin in her letter that went home last week.

“Attendance patterns are formed early in life,” she continued. “Children who develop good attendance habits in the early grades will be more likely to continue them throughout their school career and beyond. Students with poor attendance are more likely to fall behind in school and more likely to drop out of school because they have missed out on carefully planned sequences of instruction, active learning experiences, and class participation.”

This school year, attendance will be a priority and new attendance procedures have been developed. The procedures are located in each school's Student/Parent Handbook.

According to the student attendance procedures, students are expected to be in school each day and parents and guardians are also expected to contact their child's school on the day of the child's absence to inform the school of the absence.

“Parents/guardians are encouraged to notify the school of pre-arranged appointments as soon as the dates of such appointment are known,” states the revised procedures in effect this school year. “For any reason, a written note providing the dates of and reasons for the child's absence is required from the parent/guardian within five days of the child's return to school. The purpose of this note is to determine whether or not the student's absence is excused or unexcused. This note will be maintained until the end of the school year for documentation purposes.”

Excused absences, as defined by the mandatory attendance law, are illness, chronic or extended illness, prearranged appointments, family death or emergency, religious observances, or exceptional circumstances.

According to the handbook, unexcused absence procedures are “required to follow when a student fails to report to the school and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent/guardian is aware…of the…student's absence.”

Such as running late, missing the bus, or oversleeping. Other unexcused absences include suspensions, states the procedures.

According to the revisions made to Cumberland's Student/Parent Handbook, whenever a student fails to report to school for a total of three unexcused days a letter will be sent home explaining the consequences.

Next, when a student fails to report a total of five unexcused days a parent conference will be held with the principal, teacher, school counselor, and student to discuss the absences.

At the sixth unexcused absence, the parent will meet with school officials.

According to the handbook, on the seventh absence a Child In Need of Supervision petition may be filed against the student in Juvenile and Domestic Relation District Courts.

According to Dr. Griffin's letter that was sent home to kick off the new school, there are several things parents and guardians can do to help with attendance numbers.

She said, “Let your child know that you expect him or her to attend school every day.”

“Set a time for doing homework each evening and a time for going to bed…,” she offered. “Get involved with your child's school. When he or she sees you in the halls or in the classrooms he or she will understand that school is important.”

Dr. Griffin asks that everyone review the new guidelines found in the Student/Parent Handbook related to attendance and said, “We look forward to your support as we strive to ensure all of our students are prepared with the skills and habits to be successful in school and in life.”