Come to School EVERY DAY!
ABSENCES AND TARDINESS
Despite the excellent cooperation most of you have shown and despite the considerable efforts exerted by the division, truancy – that is, the failure to attend school except for a valid reason – remains a serious problem for some of our students. As you know, truancy often leads to academic failure, dropping out of school, crime in the community, and many other problems. For those reasons, Virginia law requires that school-age children attend school and it requires that parents make sure their children attend school. The law also requires that the school file legal proceedings against every parent and child who fails to comply with Virginia’s compulsory attendance laws. In order to assist you in your parental and legal duties, and in order for us to comply with the laws, we are initiating a program and protocol to address truancy. We will continue to call your home following any absence via the automated calling system. Accordingly, it is important that you keep us advised of your current mailing address and phone number. Written notes explaining an absence must be received within five (5) days of an absence. Every absence is considered unexcused until a written explanation for the absence is received and approved by the principal or his/her designee. The student suffering an infectious or contagious disease, a serious illness, the severe illness of an immediate family member, the student’s exposure to a contagious disease, a death in the immediate family, fire or other serious damage to the home that requires the family to move and similar circumstances constitute excused absences. If your child accumulates a fifth (5) unexcused absences, you will be contacted and a parent and the student must attend an “in person” conference to discuss the particular causes or issues surrounding your child’s absences. The conference will ordinarily include a teacher, the administrator, the school’s social worker, and a Western Tidewater representative. At the conference, with your input, we will formulate a truancy plan to enable and facilitate attendance. When your child acquires their seventh (7) unexcused absence, you will be contacted by the school via mail, email or phone call to advise you of the absences. Should your child acquire their tenth (10) unexcused days,you will be contacted and a parent and the student must attend another “in person” conference to discuss the particular causes or issues surrounding your child’s absences. The conference will ordinarily include a teacher, the administrator, the school’s social worker, and a Western Tidewater representative. At the conference, with your input, we will formulate or revise the truancy plan to enable and facilitate attendance. If your child were to acquire an eleventh (11) unexcused absence, more serious steps will be taken: the child and you will meet with our Truancy Review Team which will be held at the Suffolk Court House. At the conference, with your input, we will formulate a truancy plan to enable and facilitate attendance. Students who receive an additional unexcused absence could prompt the school division to file legal proceedings against your child and/or you in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. The legal proceedings may include a criminal warrant against the parent(s) and/or a “child in need of supervision” petition. It will remain our policy that any student who has more than 20 unexcused absences during a school year must repeat the year unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Should you have any questions or concerns at all about these policies and procedures, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will be pleased to discuss any of this with you. As you know, we all share the same interest in seeing that your children receive a quality education that enables them to compete and succeed in our increasingly competitive and challenging world.