Everyone knows the important role that attendance plays in getting an excellent education.  Students and parents may be surprised to hear that school attendance is mandated under Maryland State law for students ages five to sixteen.  Under the law, parents and guardians are responsible for ensuring that their child attends school daily.

    Attendance has become even more critical in response to more rigorous state assessments of student performance.  These assessments measure student knowledge in key subject areas.  Each day that a student is absent, it increases his or her chances of missing out on important material.

    It is not only important to understand that attendance is critical for success in school, but that attendance is the law in our state.

    Attendance Committee

              Each school has an Attendance Committee.  The committee is set up to help students and families understand the importance of regular attendance and develop plans for students who need help with attendance.

    The Attendance Committee will:

    1.    Monitor whole-school attendance patterns.

    2.    Meet with identified parents and incoming students who have exhibited problem attendance during the previous school year.

    3.    Meet with students and/or parents of students referred for attendance concerns.

    4.    Meet regularly to discuss student attendance.

    5.    Develop individual attendance contracts with students and families to help them improve attendance.

    What Are Considered Lawful Absences?

    Reasons for lawful absences as prescribed in COMAR for Baltimore City Public Schools are:

    A.    Death in immediate family (parent, guardian, brother, sister, grandparent)

    B.    Illness of the student (a physician’s certificate is required)

    C.    Court Summons

    D.   Hazardous weather condition (weather that endanger the health or safety of the student when in transit to and from school)

    E.     State Emergency

    F.     Suspension


    Parent’s Responsibilities

         Parents are the major influence in their child(ren)’s lives.  In order to ensure school success, parents must:

    v Encourage their child’s attendance by taking a positive approach to school and school activities.

    v Learn the school’s policies regarding student attendance.

    v Contact the school when the child will be absent for the day.

    v Write a note with the date of the absence, the reason for the absence, and contact information.

    v Share with the school the responsibility for promoting regular school attendance. 

    v Ask the school staff for help for your child when an attendance problem arises.

    v Notify the school of changes in address and phone number immediately.

    v Model and promote behavior appropriate for the school setting.

    How Can I Help My Child Have Better Attendance?

    Parents teach and model behavior, create expectations and enforce rules to set the stage for the child’s success in school and in life.  For better attendance and school achievement, parents may find the following actions helpful.

    Ø Let your child know that school is important.

    Ø Set a regular bedtime appropriate for your child.

    Ø Provide enough time for your child to prepare for school.

    Ø Schedule doctor’s, dentist’s and other appointments before and after school hours.

    Ø If your child must be out of the school for part of the day, allow him/her to miss only that time necessary for the appointment.

    Ø View tardiness as unacceptable behavior.

    Ø Notify the school as soon as possible in cases of prolonged absences due to hospitalization, etc.

    Ø Use good judgment.  Do not send a sick child to school.

    Ø Plan family vacations in accordance with the school calendar.

    Ø Talk to your child about responsibility and the need to develop good work habits and positive attitudes.

    Why Should Students Attend School Regularly?

              The opportunity to attend school daily and on time is both a right and a privilege granted to all students in Baltimore City Public School System.  Regular attendance encourages and creates the habits of mind necessary for success in school and in life

              Students with regular, punctual daily attendance gain benefits throughout life.  However, students who are frequently absent may create serious academic and life problems for themselves.  Overall, good attendance includes:

    ·       Greater learning and higher grades.

    ·       Increased self respect.

    ·       Parental pride.

    ·       Greater school and parent cooperation.

    ·       Graduation

    ·       More college and postsecondary options.

    ·       Greater earning potential through increased education.

    What Are Possible Actions Against Parents?

              They may  be consequences for parents of children who are frequently absent from school.  These consequences include:

    1)    Referral to school Student Support Team (SST).

    2)    Referral to Pupil Personnel

    3)    Referral to Court Liaison Office

    4)    Referral to Interagency Attendance Council

    5)    Referral to Department of Juvenile.

    6)    Filing of truancy petition with the Circuit Court of Maryland.