Deputy of Student Services and Transition
Ericka L. Washington440 N. Broad Street
2nd Floor, Suite 243
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Student Attendance and Child Accounting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Definition of Absences
Q: What is an "excused" absence from school?
A: Students may be excused from school for justifiable personal reasons when 1) the reason is known to the principal (or his/her designee), 2) it is requested in writing by the parent/guardian, and 3) the reason is in accordance with the guidelines listed in the District's attendance policy.
Q: What is an "unexcused" absence?
A: An unexcused absence is defined by school policy and occurs when no written notification by a parent/guardian is provided to the school or when the reason is unacceptable as a legal cause under the District's attendance policy.
Q: What are the responsibilities of parents/guardians in reporting an absence from school?
A: All absences are treated as unexcused/illegal until the school receives a written excuse explaining the reason(s) for an absence. Parents/guardians and students must submit the written explanation within three (3) days of the student's return from the absence.
Absence Excuse Notes
Q: What happens if a parent/guardian does not provide a written excuse within three (3) days of the student's return from the absence?
A: If a parent/guardian fails to provide a written excuse within three (3) days of the student's return from the absence, the absence will be permanently counted as unexcused/illegal.
Q: Does the school have to accept a parent's note for an absence?
A: No. If there are reasons to suspect that the parent's note may not be legitimate, the school does not have to accept it. A Principal has the authority to challenge a parent's written excuse note for illness if the excused absences for the illness are excessive and the parent fails to provide medical documentation from a licensed physician or practitioner substantiating the illness. Similarly, a physician's note does not have to be accepted if it does not cover the period of absence or appears to be fraudulent. The school may request additional verification when making the determination that the absence is excused. The school nurse is a good resource for such questionable notes.
Q: When should schools notify parents of a student's unexcused absence?
A: While it is recommended that the school respond to each unexcused/illegal absence, at the third unexcused/illegal absence, the school must contact the parent in writing, using the Legal Notice (C-31). All parental contact should be recorded in the Notes section of the student’s plan in the Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtII) component accessed via SchoolNet.
Q: Can any student who has ten (10) consecutive days of unexcused absences be dropped from the rolls?
A: Yes, if the student cannot be located. If the student is of compulsory school age and can be located, he/she must be referred to DHS/Truancy Court and should not be dropped from roll. Please consult the Special Education Liaison if the student is considered Special Education status. See Section VIII. Removal of Students from Office Roll for instructions.
Q: How are students who are receiving Homebound Instruction coded?
A: Homebound students (requires approval of District's Specialized Services department) are coded present. These students must be in a separate homeroom (HOME).
Q: How are students who are Home Schooled coded?
A: Parents/guardians receive a receipt when applying for homeschooling from the District’s Homeschooling Liaison. The parent is then responsible for giving the current school a copy of that receipt. Once the receipt is received by the school, the students are withdrawn with a W18 withdrawal code.
Q: How are students who are on Teen Parent Leave coded?
A: Students on Teen Parent Leave are given a code 4 for illness for a period of up to thirty (30) days after delivery. The District's attendance policy must be followed for all absences before or after the 30-day period. Special consideration should be given to a teen parent who returns to school before or after the 20th absence day (e.g., the student may be issued a hall pass, elevator pass, exempt from gym and initially, may be allowed to take half days with approval from school nurse or medical practitioner). Accommodations should also be made for lactating teen parents (see school nurse or principal for directions).
Q: Is participation in religious instruction outside of the public school considered an excused absence?
A: Upon written parental request, a student shall be excused from school to participate in a religious instruction program acknowledged by the SRC. Such instruction shall not require the child's absence from school for more than 36 hours per school year. Please refer to District's attendance policy for guidelines.
Q: What is the policy on funeral leave for students?
A: The following are to be used by principals in authorizing specific numbers of days to excuse student absences due to death in family.Five (5) days (including the day of the funeral)
Three (3) days (including the day of the funeral)
Q: How are students who are placed in the Youth Study Center (YSC) coded?
A: Once it is confirmed through Castor that the student has been admitted to the Youth Study Center, the student must be marked present.
Q: How do I find out which students are in the YSC?
A: Log into the main menu of the School Computer Network (SCN). Go to blinking cursor (next to “enter selection number”) type “YTH”. Hit Enter- 2 TIMES (A List of names will appear with admit & dismiss dates for students at YSC & Satellites.) If the student was released from the Youth Study Center and hasn’t return back to home school, you may call or email the YSC secretary to find out if the student was sent to placement.
Q: How are students who are placed in Vision Quest and other placements, via Family Court or DHS, coded?
A: If placed by DHS, and student will no longer attend a Philadelphia Public School, the student should be withdrawn W15 (neglected or dependent children in care of a Child Care Agency. Show name and location of agency?
If placed by Family Court, as a result of a delinquent act, the student should be with withdrawn W12 (committed to juvenile delinquent facility. Indicate name and location of facility).
Q: What is chronic truancy?
A: Chronic truancy is ten (10) unexcused absences from compulsory school attendance.
Q: What is the penalty for chronic truancy?
A: Chronic truancy may result in a referral to Truancy Court or to the Department of Human Services for prevention services.
Q: Can a kindergarten student be cited for truancy?
A: Yes, if the student is age six (6) or above. Only students of compulsory school age can be cited for truancy and compulsory school age begins at age six (6).
Q: Can a student 17 years old or older be cited for truancy?
A: No. The compulsory school attendance law does not apply to students 17 years of age or older.
Q: What sanctions can be imposed on truant students not covered by compulsory attendance?
A: Students 17 years old and older can be dropped from the attendance rolls after ten (10) consecutive days of unexcused absences.
Q: What are the responsibilities of school personnel when they discover that a child is unable to attend school due to the lack of necessary food and/or clothing?
A: Whenever school personnel charged with overseeing attendance discovers that any child of compulsory school age is unable to attend school due to the lack of necessary clothing or food, the case must be reported to any suitable relief agency operating in the District. If a proper relief agency is not found in the District, the case should be referred to the proper county board of assistance for investigation and relief.
Q: What are some ways school personnel can support and assist truant students and their families?A: Students should be referred to the Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtII) Team for intervention.
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440 N. Broad Street 2nd Floor, Suite 243 - Philadelphia, PA 19130
Phone: 215-400-4220 Fax: 215-400-4223