Regular attendance by all students in the public schools of the State of New Jersey is a well established and long stand ing policy (NJSA 18A 38:25,26) that has been repeatedly upheld by the courts of the State as well as by the Supreme Court of the United States. The rationale for requiring such regular attendance was perhaps best summarized by New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education who wrote:
“. . . pupil participation in all regularly scheduled classroom learning activities in each area of study is essential in order for each pupil to receive the maximum benefits of a thorough educational program.
The school cannot teach pupils who are not present. The entire process of education requires a regu lar continuity of instruction, classroom participation, learning experiences, and study in order to reach the goal of maximum educational benefits for each individual child. The regular contact of the pupils with one another in the classroom and their participation in well planned instructional activity under the tute lage of a competent teacher is vital to this purpose. This is the well established principle of education which underlies and gives purpose to the requirement of compulsory schooling in this and every other state in the nation.
Frequent absences of pupils from regular classroom learning experiences disrupt the continuity of the instructional process. The benefit of regular classroom instruction is lost and cannot be entirely regained, even by extra after school instruction.
Consequently, many pupils who miss school fre quently experience great difficulty in achieving the maximum benefits of schooling. Indeed, many pupils in these circumstances are able to achieve only mediocre success in their academic programs...”
The High Point Regional High School Board of Education, Administration, and Faculty accept their responsibility in requiring all students to be in regular attendance and as a result have adopted the following pol icy dealing with attendance.
• Absentee Call In Line- Please call 973-875-3101 ext.1219 to report your child’s absence.
A. Legal Absences
Under the laws of the state of New Jersey, the only legally acceptable reasons for absence from school are religious holidays and home instruction/suspension with home instruction.
B. Absence Verification
All absences require written notification by parents or guardians of minors and by an individual who has declared his/her majority. Such notes shall be received in the Main Office upon return to school following an absence. All such notes must be received within five days and shall list the dates and reasons for the absence, be signed and dated by the parent or adult pupil, and shall become a part of the official student record. Notes submitted from doctors, dentists, etc. must specify dates of absences for which the student has been excused by the physician. Generalized, open-ended notes will not be entered into the student’s attendance record as excused absences, but will be placed in the student’s attendance file to be reviewed by the Attendance Committee should the student exceed the Board Attendance Policy.Only original notes from doctors, dentists, court, etc. will be accepted. The Main Office will supply you with a copy upon request. A student who has been absent by reason of having or being suspected of having a communicable disease must present written evidence of being free of communicable disease, in accordance with Policy 8451.
Schools are currently required to notify the courts of any student who has 10 cumulative full day unexcused absences. This may be avoided with written communication from parent or guardian explaining the student’s absence to the school.
C. Consecutive Absences
Students under age of compulsory school attendance (16 years) who do not attend school for ten consecutive days and fail to notify the school as to the reason for the absence shall have served upon their parents or guardians a formal written notice to cause the student to attend school (NJSA 18:38 29).
Students beyond the age of compulsory school attendance who do not attend school for ten consecutive days and fail to notify the school as to the reason for the absence shall have written notice served to parents or guardians of intent to remove the student’s name from the attendance rolls of the school. Appeal of such notification must be made within three school days of receipt of notification.
D. School Activities
Approved school activities which necessitate a student being absent from class shall not be reflected in absentee totals. Such activities will typically include, but not be limited to, activities such as field trips, ath letic contests, student council meetings.
II. ALTERNATE INSTRUCTION
A. Homework Assignments
Homework assignments are available to students confined to their homes because of illness. Parents are asked to contact the Guidance Office between 8 and 9 a.m. to request assignments. You may also e-mail teachers at school with homework requests. Such procedure usually requires two days (phone call received on the morning of day 1, assignments available at the close of school day 2).
B. Makeup Work
Pupils are provided an opportunity to complete assignments missed because of their absences. However, it would be unwise to believe that one can make up the learning activity of a total class session.
• The rule of thumb for the time allowed to make up work missed is equal to the amount of time absent. Responsibility for arrangements to make up work rests with the student. Extended time to make up work may be granted by the respective teachers.
• Students choosing to cut classes, or otherwise found to be truant, may not make up work missed during these infractions.
• Students may complete assignments for time missed because of action initiated by the authorities of the school, such as suspension or exclusion.
C. Home Instruction
For students who are confined to home for extended periods of time (more than 10 school days by a physician who provides a medical diagnosis), a program to provide a tutor in the home is available. Parents of students who have diagnosed illnesses are to contact the guidance counselor to arrange for transfer of the student from regular attendance rolls to the Home Instruction Register. Students on the Home Instruction Register are not recorded as absent.
III. ATTENDANCE AS REQUIREMENT FOR CREDIT
Students who are excessively absent shall not receive credit for courses in which they are enrolled. Excessive absenteeism shall be defined as class absence greater than 14 occasions for full year course. This is not a statement of permissiveness and is not intended to give license as to the number of absences that can be taken. In all classes the grade and credits earned in a course shall reflect daily participation as well as other academic requirements.
B. Class Absence Totals
For the purposes of computing excessive absenteeism, all absences shall be counted in the class absence total except those that result from any of the following:
• Religious holidays
• Doctor’s notes - see Section I-B - “Absence Verification”
• Death in the immediate family
• College visits for juniors and seniors (maximum of four with a letter from admissions office; community college visitations would receive one .5 day credit) For juniors and seniors only.
• Administrative reasons (field trips, suspensions)
• Court Appearances
• Scheduled test for driver’s license-copy of license required
• Other (according to administrative discretion)
All notes have to be received by the Main Office within five days to be credited as an excused absence. Notes submitted for an excused absence by a student/guardian/parent that are altered, scanned or forged will result in the student being prohibited from filing an appeal and will require the student’s participation in the summer makeup program in order to retrieve their credits. As a result of such action, a senior will forfeit participation in graduation and attend the summer makeup program that commences after graduation. For the purpose of computing excessive absenteeism, the following types of absences are included in the totals:
• Tardiness: Students arriving in school, or for a class, more than 20 minutes after the class has started shall be recorded as absent from the class.
• Other: Students who are absent from a class for other reasons not dictated by the school program, such as early release, class “cuts,” emergency, illness, or personal reasons shall be recorded as absent from the class. Students who are dismissed early cannot return to school or participate in extracurricular or athletic events unless their dismissal in an excused absence.
The school will maintain records of absences for all students. Parents or guardians will be notified of absences as follows:
• For full year courses, written notification shall be supplied upon the eighth class absence. Final notification of loss of credit shall be supplied upon the occasion of the fifteenth absence in the form of a certified letter.
Courses that meet a full year but are graded separately for each semester are considered to be full year courses for the purposes of notification. Credits for the first semester of such courses are not awarded until the completion of the attendance requirement for the year.
D. Loss of Credit
Students whose absentee record warrants loss of credit shall continue in classes scheduled but shall have indicated N/C (No Credit) in the “credits earned” category of the report documents. Students in such status shall complete all course requirements in order to be eligible to file an appeal.
It is to be recognized that no policy, no matter how well intended, can anticipate all circumstances. The policy is in no way intended to create hardships for serious, well intentioned students or their families.
• Appeals of loss of credit may be granted if it can be substantiated that the pattern of excessive absence resulted from either of the following causes:
o An unusual, long term medical problem as documented by a physician,
o An unusual or personal family problem judged to be beyond the control of the student and parent.
• Guidelines as to the specific types of information or documentation required for each type of appeal are furnished with the notification of no credit status.
• A permanent Attendance Appeals Committee has been established to monitor and recommend as to the conduct of this policy. Including representation of administration and teaching staff, this committee has the primary responsibility of hearing and ruling on the merits of appeals. Their findings and recommendations are forwarded to the Principal.
• The first step in the appeals process is for the parent or adult student to file a request for an appeal with the Attendance Committee.
• Appropriate forms and directions shall be included with the letter of notification of the "no credit" status and must be returned within 15 days of the receipt.
• The Attendance Committee shall meet in closed session at the end of the year to review all requests for appeals. The decision of the Attendance Committee shall be communicated to the parents within five school days of the review meeting.
• Appeals of the decision at the review meeting may be made to the Committee within five school days of the receipt of notification. In such cases a Hearing Committee shall be established to hear the appeal in open session. The hearing will be scheduled and held prior to the end of the school year. At the hearing, the par ent or student may present any additional informa tion that they feel to be pertinent to explain the cause of the absence. The decision of the Hearing Committee will be communicated in writing within five school days of the date of the hearing.
• Appeals of the decision of the Hearing Committee may be made to the Board of Education. Such request must be made in writing to the Superintendent within ten school days of receipt of notification of the deci sion.
• Appeals of the decision of the Board of Education may be made to the Commissioner of Education.