THE NORTH CAROLINA COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE LAW
All children enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade are required to attend school on a regular basis. The parent, guardian, or custodian of a child shall notify the school of each known absence. The state identifies two types of absences: excused (lawful) and unexcused (unlawful).
Absences are harmful to student success and should be avoided when possible. Should your student need to be absent from school, please provide a written note or doctor's note explaining the reason for the absence(s) upon returning to school. Remind messages and emails will also be accepted.
All absences are recorded as excused or unexcused. Unexcused absences are considered unlawful absences and may be subject to legal action after 10.
An absence must fall into one of the following eight categories to be excused:
1. Illness or Injury: The student is physically unable to attend school due to an illness or injury.
2. Quarantine: The isolation of the student ordered by the health department/board of health or medical physician.
3. Death in the Family: The death of an immediate family member such as parents, siblings or grandparents.
4. Medical/Dental Appointment: Not for routine hour-long appointments, but for extensive appointments involving medical procedures.
5. Court: The child must be present for court proceedings or an administrative hearing.
6. Religious Observation: The tenets of a religion to which a student and his/her parents adhere, require or suggest observance of a religious event.
7. Educational Opportunity: The purpose of the absence is to take advantage of a valid educational opportunity such as travel by the student. An educational opportunity form is required for prior approval by the principal. A student report must be turned in within five days of the last absence.
8. Military Deployment or Reunification: The child’s parent/guardian is deploying, redeploying or home on leave. Not to exceed five (5) days of absences.
REQUIRED BY LAW
The school social worker will send out three contact letters for unexcused absences.
1. The first letter is for 3 unexcused absences. These absences received a code of unexcused because a note was not received from the parent stating one of the eight valid absence reasons.
2. The second letter is sent home for 6 unexcused absences. These absences have accumulated from the beginning of the student’s school year.
3. The third letter is for 10 unexcused absences. This letter notifies the parent/guardian of a conference with school personnel. This meeting is an effort to resolve the attendance concerns before punitive action.
AFTER THE TEN DAY LETTER
If attendance concerns continue after the 10-day meeting, then the school social worker may proceed to the following actions:
1. Truancy Mediation Council: The social worker will request for a formal mediation at the Cumberland County courthouse The parent/guardian will meet with school personnel, social services, court representatives, juvenile services, mental health counselors and any agencies involved with the student. This will give all parties a chance to discuss the situation and come to a mutually satisfactory solution.
2. District Court: The social worker may elect to proceed with court action. This action brings all parties in front of a judge to discuss the noncompliance with the compulsory attendance law. This could result in jail time as well as fines.
3. Department of Social Services Child Protection: The social worker may elect to file a claim of educational neglect.
Students who are excessively tardy to class may be subject to disciplinary actions for such offenses. Your child is considered tardy if he/she arrives at or after 7:30 am. If a child is tardy, a parent or legal guardian must come into the office, sign your child in and obtain a pass to class for your child.
All tardies are recorded as excused or unexcused. If a student is late due to a medical appointment, please obtain a note from the physician and present the note when checking the student in at the main office. If a tardy occurs more than three times in a nine-week period, a parent meeting will take place with the administration and the school social worker.
THE SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER
The school social worker monitors attendance for all students. The school social worker will contact you by letter, phone, or home visit as needed to address attendance concerns. The school social worker will assist your family in overcoming any barriers that may be keeping your child from coming to school. Address issues early, so the school year will be successful for your child and family!
If you have any questions about attendance, please feel free to contact Tanika Wheeler and/or ShaNya Bandy our school social workers at 910-424-7678 and they will be happy to answer any questions.