Regular school attendance is critical to academic success. Absences impact the number of instructional hours that students receive and may result in poor test scores, failing grades, disengagement from the school environment, and, ultimately, students dropping out of school.
School attendance is required by law for all students who reach five years of age on or before September 20 of the current school year. Students must attend school daily until they meet high school graduation requirements or reach their 18th birthday. If students are skipping school, parents should talk to the attendance counselor at Eastern or Attendance Specialists with the DCPS Office of Youth Engagement.
Attendance Expectations for Students
- Arrive on time to school and to class each day.
- Bring your books and materials to class.
- Ask your teacher for missed work or make-up assignments for days you were absent.
- Ask school staff for help if you have academic or other concerns (e.g. safety or lack of transportation) preventing you from coming to school.
Unexcused absences are when school-aged students are absent from school without a valid excuse, with or without parental approval. Examples of unexcused absences include:
- Doing errands
- Cutting classes
- Job hunting
If a student misses 26% to 59% of the school day the student will receive a half-day absence. If he or she misses 60% of the day, the student will receive an unexcused absence for the full day.
Excused absences are when school-aged students are absent from school with a valid excuse and parental approval. Examples of excused absences include:
- Student illness (a doctor’s note is required if a student is absent for more than five days);
- Death in the student’s immediate family;
- Necessity for a student to attend a judicial proceeding as a plaintiff, defendant, witness, or juror;
- Observance of a religious holiday;
- Temporary school closings due to weather, unsafe conditions, or other emergencies;
- Medical reasons such as a doctor’s appointment (a doctor’s note is required);
- Failure of DC to provide transportation where legally responsible; and
- Emergency circumstances approved by DCPS.
When a student returns to school after an absence, a note should be sent with him or her and given directly to the attendance counselor. The note should include the date(s) of the absence and the reason for it. A doctor’s note should be provided at this time if required. Student absences without notes will be marked as unexcused.
Consequences of Unexcused Absences
Students who cut class or have an unexcused absence may be subject to the following:
- Individual/group counseling to address attendance needs.
- Participation in the creation of, and adherence to, an Attendance Intervention Plan.
- Parents of students with five unexcused absences will be requested to participate in a truancy conference.
- For high school students, ten or more unexcused absences per grading period, in any class, will result in a referral to the school’s attendance committee for the development of an attendance intervention plan.
- Twenty five or more unexcused absences will result in a student/parent referral to the Office of the Attorney General or Court Social Services.
- Course grades or year-end promotion may be affected.
What is truancy?
Truancy is the unexcused absence from school by a minor (5-17 years of age) with or without approval, parental knowledge, or consent.
What happens to a truant who is picked up by police?
All uniformed law enforcement officers in the District are responsible for truancy enforcement.
- If a truant is picked up by the police, he or she will be transported in a police vehicle to Eastern.
- Parents are notified of the student’s truancy status.
- Parents and students attend a truancy conference.
School Attendance Is the Law.
The Compulsory School Attendance Law states that parents/guardians who fail to have their children attend school are subject to the following:
- Truancy charges may be filed against the student or parent;
- Neglect charges may be filed against the parent;
- Parents may be fined or jailed;
- School-aged students may be picked up by law enforcement officers during school hours for suspected truancy;
- Students may be referred to the Court Diversion and other community-based interventions; and
- Parents and students may be assigned community service and placed under court supervision/probation.
The District of Columbia Compulsory School Attendance Law 8-247 and DC Municipal Regulations Title V Ch. 21 govern mandatory school attendance and the ways schools must intervene when students are truant.
Lateness Policy and Procedures
Students who arrive in their first period class later than 8:45 a.m. will be considered tardy. Students should pass through security with their student I.D. cards in hand before 8:30 a.m. in order to get to class by 8:40. The first class begins at 8:45 each morning, and the last class ends at 3:15 every afternoon. On half days, students are dismissed at 12:15 p.m.
Excused tardies will be determined by the criteria stated in the Excused Absences section above. Tardies that do not fall into one of the categories described above shall be considered unexcused tardies. All students who expect to receive an excused tardy are required to submit a note, signed by a parent or guardian, to the attendance counselor upon arrival. Three tardies warrant a parent notification and/or conference. Students will be assigned a lunch detention for each accrued unexcused tardy. The following will not count as reasons for a tardy to be excused: oversleeping, providing child care, or encountering traffic or rainy weather.
In addition, students who are not in their seats in their next class by the end of the ringing of the second bell and do not have a pass will be considered tardy to that class and will be assigned a lunch detention.
Students must arrive to school on time as teaching and learning occur from the second the first bell rings. Students who arrive even one minute late to any class lose valuable academic time and must attend a full lunch detention in the Health and Medical Sciences Academy in order to recover this lost time. The lunch detention will be silent, and students will be expected to do homework or read while they eat their lunch. Students who arrive late and do not report to lunch detention on time will be subject to more stringent disciplinary actions including but not limited to Saturday detention or suspension. If lateness becomes a pattern for a student, that student may also be assigned Saturday detention or other serious consequences.
It should be reiterated that students who are late to any class without a pass from a teacher or administrator must serve the lunch detention following that class. If a student is late for a class that meets after lunch, then he or she must serve lunch detention the next day.
Early Dismissal Policy
Students may only be released early to adults listed in our official electronic record. If a student will be dismissed early from school, the student should submit an explanatory note signed by a parent or guardian to the attendance counselor upon arrival. The attendance counselor will call home to verify the early dismissal.