SCHS Student Handbook
Regular attendance in all classes is essential to the achievement of the Springfield Public Schools District Priorities by helping to establish safe, nurturing and respectful working and learning environments and improving academic achievement for 21st century success. Regular school attendance is linked to higher graduation rates and lower drop out rates. Students are expected to be in attendance every day of the school year. Parents/guardians have a legal responsibility to ensure that their child is in attendance each day school is in session. Attendance shall be taken daily in every class of each school and parents/guardians shall be notified daily, via an automated call, of their child's absence from school. Also parents/guardians can log into Powerschool for Parents to check school and class daily attendance.
State Laws Regarding Attendance
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts states that parents are required to ensure children between the ages of 6 to 16 attend school. The following state laws outline the responsibilities of parents, guardians, and other responsible adults to monitor and prevent children's absence from school.
- Parents/guardians must provide the school with accurate contact information and must inform the school regarding the date and reason for a child's absence, using a specific phone number the school must provide. Educational professionals must report to the Department of Child and Family Services their belief that a child is suffering physical or emotional harm from abuse or neglect. Supervisors of Attendance may apprehend truants without a warrant and return them to school by bus.
- Adults who unlawfully keep children out of school must pay fines and other penalties. The Home/School Attendance Specialist may apply for a CRA (Child Requiring Assistance) petition for a truant. Families (including teen parents) who receive benefits under Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children are subject to specific attendance requirements.
General Information Regarding Attendance
The Home/School Attendance Specialist
The Home/School Attendance Specialist will support schools in addressing attendance in all schools in the prevention and intervention for chronic truants. The specialist will communicate with the parent/guardian by telephone calls through the attendance hotline or other referrals and may go on location to intervene to support the student's return to school. As necessary, the specialist will respond to community concerns regarding attendance and related issues and, in some instances, may accompany certified personnel to escort students back to school or to the Assessment Center.
How Attendance Relates to the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System)
- Students must take and meet the competency determination for the 10th grade English Language Arts, Math and Science MCAS to receive a high school diploma
- If a student has not met the competency determination for MCAS by the time he/she is otherwise eligible to graduate, he/she must file an appeal in order to receive a diploma.
- In accordance with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), all schools are expected to maintain 92% or higher average daily student attendance in order to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
To be eligible to file an MCAS appeal:
- A student must have a 95% attendance rate for both 11th and 12th grade years*
- The student must satisfactorily attend and participate in MCAS prep classes (students must have a 66% participation rate in the prep classes or in tutoring)
- The student must take the MCAS three (3) times*
*For specific information on MCAS appeal & portfolio information please view the Massachusetts Department of Educators Website.
To receive a State Endorsed Certificate of Attainment
- Students must meet the state attendance requirements (#1 above).
*Student/school may submit evidence of extenuating circumstances
Attendance Policy for High Schools
A student who has enrolled in a class is expected to be present each time the course is in session. A student in the Springfield Public School system cannot be absent more than 14 sessions in a full year course (or 7 sessions in a half-year, semester course) or he/she will receive "No Credit" for the course pending appeal. After the 14th session of absence in a full- year course (or 7th absence in a half-year course), the student must file an appeal to receive credit. The grades will be reported on his/her report card as "No Credit" pending appeal (NC). All courses will show NC for the current report card. Any student who accumulates more than 14 absences during the academic year will be ineligible to move successfully from one grade to the next unless there are validated extenuating circumstances and a successful appeal. If not the NC is not successfully appealed, the NC will revert to an FA (Failure due to Attendance).
An approved absence is necessary to appeal a grade of NC. An approved absence occurs when a student is absent for a legitimate, acceptable reason and is able to provide adequate written documentation (a note from a parent/guardian explaining the reason for the absence) within 3 days of when he/she returns to school. Students will be marked absent, administratively, until the expiration of the 3 days and then will be marked truant if a note has not been received by the school. *Vacations and non-emergency travel are not approved absences.
Approved absences include the following:
- Student Illness
- Medical Appointment for the Student
- Death in the Family
- Observance of a religious holiday
- Court appearance for the student
A formal doctor's note, a copy of the obituaries or verification of religious affiliation after 4 consecutive absences may be requested by the principal. The note must include the date absent, the reason for the absence, a phone number where a parent or guardian can be reached, and the parent or guardian's signature. Should a school official become aware that written documentation for any absence(s) has been fabricated, the absence(s) will not qualify as “approved” and will not count for the purpose of filing an appeal However, a parent's note will not negate the necessity of filing an attendance appeal beyond the 7th semester absence or the 14th full year absence.
- A student is truant when he/she is absent without approval.
- A student is truant if he/she is absent for an unacceptable reason (one not listed above).
- A student who is truant will not be able to file an appeal for days missed due to truancy.
- A parent's note cannot excuse truancy, if the absence does not meet the criteria of an approved absence.
- A student who is truant will be required to make up missed class work and may receive a lower grade.
Tardiness and Dismissal
A student who is not in his/her classroom at the start of the class is tardy. A student entering the classroom after one-half of the period will be considered absent from that class, unless he/she has a verified pass from a teacher, counselor, nurse or assistant principal. If a student leaves school before half of the academic day has passed then that student will be marked absent from school that day. In order to strengthen this policy, however, a need exists to address students who come to class late without a justifiable excuse. Therefore the following rule is to be added:
Any student who arrives tardy to a class three separate times without a justifiable excuse will receive one
unexcused absence from that class. This does not preclude the existing city-wide rule that a student will receive an unexcused absence for entering a class after one-half of the period. The definition of "tardy to class" will be determined by each teacher.
Excused tardies to class include a student's entering with a written pass (passes are to be in ink with signature, time and date) from a staff member or administrator. Students using counseling or mediation services are warned to avoid excessive visits as a way to miss regularly scheduled classes. Teachers will alert the appropriate administrator if a pattern of abuse in this area occurs.
Days out of school due to external suspensions are absences that do not count towards a lack of academic credit. Students who are absent due to external suspensions will be expected to make up missed assignments, homework and tests.
We are aware that some students suffer from chronic illnesses. Should the student present with appropriate medical documentation to document the absences, such student will be required to complete the coursework necessary to gain course credit.
Process for Appealing Grades of No Creadit (NC)
- Students with more than 7 absences in a semester or 14 absences in a school year will receive a grade of "NC", which indicates they earned a passing grade. The "NC" reverts to an "FA" (Fail due to attendance) if not successfully appealed. FA will equal 0 credits and 0 GPA. (Teachers will submit progress reports to the Home/School Attendance Specialist for each student who fails solely due to attendance.)
- Students may appeal absences beyond 14 days to the confidential Appeal Review Committee comprised of the principal, assistant principal, Home/School Attendance Specialist and counselor. The district Attendance Appeal form must be completed and submitted to the Home/School Attendance Specialist two weeks prior to the last day of the semester or school year.
- After reviewing the appeal, the Appeal Review Committee issues its decision in writing to the student and the student's teachers.
- Successful student appeals of absences will be converted to approved absence status and the student shall receive his/her appropriate grade.
High schools are required to design and implement programs to offer students attendance buyback options such as Thursday Night Extended school, after school opportunities and summer school. Three hours of time in any of the attendance buyback program should be equivalent to one full day of school attendance. Any student who attends an attendance buyback program must be engaged in meaningful academic work that addresses skills missed during the absence periods. Credit recovery programs will be offered at each high school.
SSARC At Central (Springfield Student Attendance Resource Center)
In efforts to increase the attendance and graduation rate, Springfield Central High School will offer an attendance resource center to students who are not meeting the academic, social and attendance policy requirements and have exhausted all applications of remediation and intervention levels. This program will incorporate rigorous credit recovery courses that are designed to meet the time and credit requirements for graduation. Time and duration of the program is to be announced.
SCHS utilizes the Connect Ed automated dialing program to keep parents informed of various events, timelines, and attendance at the school.
The school nurse in the Health Suite (Rm.125) will obtain a parent's permission for a student dismissal when a health situation requires it. In an emergency when a nurse is not available, students should see a counselor or assistant principal. At no time should students walk out of a class or leave school ill without following this procedure. The consequence is detention or suspension.
Notes are to be brought to the Main Office before 8:56 a.m. After that time students must see their assistant principal. Students' name must be printed with grade and homeroom number. The reason for emergency must be explained with appropriate names. Students' parent/guardian signature must be on this, along with the PHONE NUMBER where they can be reached between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. No student will be dismissed on the basis of a telephone call to the school.
Eastern States Exposition (Big E)
There is no school committee-sanctioned day off for this purpose. It will be treated as an unapproved absence.
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