Student Absences/Excusing Children
State law requires that all student absences be verified. Parents/guardians are required to call the school when a student will be absent. All schools have voice mail with an absence voice mailbox for parents to report absences. When a child is absent and the parent(s) have not called to report the absence, the school will attempt to verify the child’s safety by contacting parents using the contact numbers parents have provided to the school. Please be sure that your child’s school has all current phone numbers on record. If your child is absent, and you do not call, and you cannot be reached, your child will be marked truant.
Students occasionally may be absent from school for valid reasons: for example, illness, death in the immediate family, family emergency, observance of a religious holiday, situations beyond the control of the student, mental or behavioral health reasons, or circumstances that cause parents reasonable concern for the safety or health of the student. Students who are absent for these reasons will be given an opportunity to make up missed school work. Taking students out of school for vacations is discouraged and is considered an unexcused absence. Staff are not required to provide work for such absences.
Students are not allowed to leave the school grounds during the school day except for those elementary children who go home for lunch. At times, it may be necessary for your child to be excused early from school for medical or dental appointments, family emergencies, etc. Such requests should be directed to the office.
Regular, on-time attendance is very important. Children who are absent unnecessarily miss vital classroom instruction time. Repeated absences may have a negative effect on a student’s progress, work habits, and attitude.
The Illinois State Board of Education dictates what constitutes a full day of school versus a half day of school, as well as tardies and truancies. District 15 follows the standard shown below:
- Any student who is late for school 30 minutes or less will be marked tardy unless the school bus is late in arriving. (We understand that school buses sometimes run late due to unforeseeable circumstances, and in these instances students will not be marked tardy.)
- Any student who leaves 30 minutes or less before the end of the school day will be marked with an early pick-up.
- Any student who is in attendance for more than 150 class-time minutes (the lunch/recess hour does not count) but less than 300 class-time minutes will be marked absent for a half day.
- Any student who is in attendance for fewer than 150 class-time minutes (excluding the lunch/recess hour) will be marked absent for the full day.
In the event of a persistent student attendance problem, District staff shall assess reasons for the absences and develop appropriate diagnostic procedures. These procedures may include, but are not limited to, counseling for the student and the student’s parent/guardian, health evaluations by the school nurse, and clinical evaluations by local and/or state agencies.
Support services that may be offered to a student with an attendance problem include: parent-teacher conferences, counseling, case study evaluations, alternative educational programs, alternative school placements, and community agencies. When medically certified, homebound instruction may be provided for students with ongoing medical circumstances that impact attendance.
Our first concern when a child is absent is to verify the child’s safety. For that reason, it is very important that the school office knows the whereabouts of your child(ren) when they are absent or will be late arriving at school. When your child is absent or late, it is your responsibility to call the school absence line or the school office to notify the staff of your child’s absence. Please state your child’s full name, the teacher’s name, the date of the absence, and the reason for the absence. Please do not leave this information on your child’s teacher’s voice mail or e-mail. Substitute teachers do not have access to teachers’ voice-mail or e-mail.
If your child’s whereabouts are unknown, every effort will be made to reach you using the phone numbers you have provided. Please make sure that your child’s school office has all current phone numbers on record. If you have not notified the school with the reason of an absence and the school office has exhausted all attempts to reach you, your child will be marked truant for that school day and any other school day that your child is unaccounted for.
Taking students out of school for vacations is strongly discouraged and is considered an unexcused absence. If a student is to be absent because of a family vacation, parents should notify the school office in writing at least one week before the planned absence. Teachers are not required to provide homework assignments prior to the child leaving for vacation or in advance of an absence.
Mental Health Support Days
In August of 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a new state law that allows students aged 6 to 17 to take up to five days off school for mental or behavioral health reasons. These days do not require a doctor’s note and students may begin using these days starting in January 2022.
The intent of this law is to help parents support children that are experiencing difficulty coping with the increased stress in their lives. If you would like your child to use a mental health support day, follow the same process you use to report any student absence – contact your school’s attendance line and indicate that the student will be using a mental health support day. Mental health support days are counted as excused absences.
Schools are required to contact parents if a student takes two or more mental health support days during the school year. This contact is to conduct a student emotional wellness check and helps the school determine if the student requires mental health support at school.
Students are expected to arrive on time for school because late arrivals cause unnecessary disruption in the classroom and result in lost instruction time. Late arrivals must get a pass from the school office to ensure that the student is not marked absent for the day and to enable us to notify School Nutrition Services if a hot lunch is needed. We closely monitor students who are frequently absent or tardy. If truancy or tardiness becomes a problem, parents will be contacted to resolve the issue and/or disciplinary actions will take place.
Leaving During the School Day
Students are not permitted to leave school grounds on their own at any time during the school day. When a student needs to be excused during the school day for an appointment, parents should state in writing the reason for early dismissal, date and time the student is to be picked up, and by whom the student will be picked up (parent or other designated person). The note should be brought to the office at the beginning of the school day. Students must report to the office prior to leaving, and the parent or designee must come into the school office to sign the child out. Students will only be released to parents or the designee, either of which will be asked for identification when picking up the child. Students returning to school must report to the office, sign in, and get a pass to return to class.
Students who are ill and in the nurse’s office will not be allowed to walk home. A parent or other designee must come to the school and sign the student out.
When students are absent for acceptable reasons, make-up work will be allowed. Students are responsible for obtaining and completing missing assignments or parents may contact their child’s teacher directly regarding homework assignments. After returning to school, students will have one day to make up homework for each day absent. Again, teachers are not required to provide homework assignments prior to the child leaving for vacation or in advance of an absence.
A “truant” is a child subject to compulsory school attendance and who is absent without valid cause from such attendance for a school day or portion thereof. Disciplinary action may be taken against any student guilty of being absent without a recognized excuse. State law and Board of Education Policy 7:70 Attendance and Truancy will be used with chronic and habitual truants.
Valid cause for absence—A child may be absent from school due to illness, observance of a religious holiday, death of an immediate family member, family emergency, situations beyond the control of the student as determined by the Board, voting pursuant to Board of Education policy 7:90, Release During School Hours, other circumstances that cause reasonable concern to the parent/guardian for the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or safety, or other reason as approved by the Superintendent or designee.. It is District practice to request a doctor’s note if a student is chronically absent due to medical issue.
Chronic or habitual truant—A “chronic or habitual truant” is a child who is subject to compulsory school attendance and who is absent without valid cause from such attendance for 5 percent or more of the previous 180 regular attendance days.
Truant minor—A truant minor is a child to whom supportive services, such as prevention, diagnostic, intervention and remedial services, alternative programs, and other school and community resources have been provided, but have failed to result in improved attendance or have been offered and refused.