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Attendance & Absences

ALWAYS ATTENDING! Everyday Counts!
Your Child’s Success Begins With Attendance.

When it comes to school, students who miss school... miss out. Attendance boosts student achievement, improves the quality of your child's educational experience, and it prepares them for college, good careers, and successful adulthood.

For every day of school missed, it takes two or more days for a student to catch up. 


Excused Absences

School districts are obligated to excuse a student's absence for certain reasons, such as:

  • Observing a religious holy day that is recognized by the student's denomination as a day that must be observed by all members.
    • However, church retreats, camps, mission trips and individual religious rites (such as baptisms, christenings, bar mitzvahs, etc.) are not considered holy days.
  • Attending a required court appearance, provided that the student's name appears on the court summons.
  • Serving as an election clerk.
  • Completing paperwork required in connection with the student's application for U.S. citizenship at a governmental office.
  • Participating in a U.S. naturalization oath ceremony.
  • Sounding "Taps" at a military honors funeral held in Texas for a deceased veteran.
  • Attending a healthcare appointment.
  • Visiting college campuses, for juniors and seniors.

Additionally, an absence may be excused in cases of:

  • Attending the funeral of an immediate family member.
  • Seeing a doctor for an appointment.
  • Participating in school-sponsored curricular or extracurricular activities.

Families/guardians are allowed to write up to eight (8) excused absence notes, per school year. 

Unexcused Absences

Reasons that are not considered acceptable excuses for absenteeism from school include:

  • Taking care of a sibling or parent
  • Non-enrollment days
    • Days the student is not in school due to changing schools
  • Traveling out of town to visit relatives or vacationing with family

Consequences for excessive unexcused absences:

Parents are held accountable for unexcused absences, even if the child is 16 years old and skips class without the parent's knowledge.

A compulsory attendance notification will be sent to the parent if a student has unexcused absences on 10 or more days or parts of days within a six-month period or three days or parts of days without an excuse during a four-week period. Note that "parts of days" includes leaving school early or arriving after the first bell has rung, even if the child attended for some of the day.

The attendance warning letter gives the parent notice that the student has accumulated too many unexcused absences and gives the parent a chance to make corrections to the child's attendance record.
If corrections are not made, a court warning will notify the parent of the potential for a case to be filed in a justice or municipal court or for the student to be referred to juvenile court. Parents may be criminally charged or fined if their child has another unexcused absence.

Compulsory Attendance Law
The State of Texas requires that all students at least 6 years of age and not yet 19 attend school until they obtain a diploma. It is important that students attend school each day. There is a very strong connection between student attendance and academic performance in school. When students miss class, they miss out on learning.

90% Rule
In addition to the Compulsory Attendance Law, there is the 90% law. In order to receive credit for a final grade for a class, a student is required to attend class 90 percent of the days a class is offered regardless of whether the student’s absences are excused [see FEA] or unexcused. 

If the student does not meet this requirement, the student must go through the Attendance Recovery Process. 

If the student drops below 90% but attends class at least at 75% of the days the class is offered, the student may earn credit for the class by completing a plan approved by the principal. 

Should a parent and student choose to appeal the student’s denial of credit due to attendance, submission of the attendance appeal must occur within 30 school days of the end of the semester in which the credit was denied. The campus attendance committee will then meet and render a decision based on the circumstances as presented by the student and parent within 30 school days of the end of the semester in which the credit was denied. See SAISD ISD Board Policies FEC (LEGAL) and FEC (LOCAL)

Course Credit Loss Defined
When students do not meet the 90% attendance rate in a class, it is reflected on their report cards as course credit denial. 

  • What can I do to help?

    • Keep Reviewing Your Child's Attendance Records
      It is important to monitor your child’s attendance and stay in communication with the school to ensure that you are informed about your child’s attendance history.

    • Minimize Instructional Time Lost
      Schedule any appointments (doctor, dentist, etc.) outside of school hours.

    • Send a Note
      For an excused absence, you must send a note to the campus that describes the reason for the absence within two school days of your child returning to school.

    • Get to know Your Child’s Teachers
      Be sure to get to know your child’s teachers. Ask questions about their classes, how they arrive at assigning grades, homework policies and make-up work procedures. Attend parent-teacher conferences; they will help you stay informed about your child’s progress.

    • Make-Up Work and Passing Grades
      If your child is absent for any reason, including extracurricular activities, be sure the assigned make-up work is completed. Submitting missed assignments due to absences will help maintain eligibility for extracurricular activities as well as a student’s GPA.

    • How Can I Monitor My Child’s Attendance?
      You can sign up for the SAISD Frontline Parent Portal, which will allow you to access your child’s attendance records online, including absence codes identifying excused and unexcused absences. You can also see your child’s grades in real time. 

    • Check Our Accuracy
      Review your child’s attendance record and absence codes as often as possible. As soon as you notice a problem with attendance, or if you receive a letter and do not recognize the absence dates listed, contact the school immediately.  Unexcused absences can lead to a variety of other issues including a referral to Truancy Court.  You can set up the Parent Portal system to contact you immediately after your child is marked absent.

    How does the district notify the parents/guardians and students regarding violation of the attendance law?

    Parents and guardians are notified of absences through:

    • school progress reports
    • report cards
    • warning letters
    • SchoolMessenger phone calls

    What types of absences count against my student's 90% attendance law?

    Some examples of absences that count against the 90% attendance law include, but are not limited to:

    • family trips
    • vacations
    • attendance at non-school sponsored events

    What types of absences do not count against my student's 90% attendance law?

    Activities that do not count against the 90% attendance law include, but are not limited to:

    • school field trip
    • UIL activity
    • dual credit course
    • college visit for juniors and seniors or other school-related events


    What To Do If Your Child Refuses To Go To School

    It is well known that the adolescent years are particularly stressful years for students and making the move from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school can bring about behaviors that were not present before. Despite this transition, you can help your child by immediately taking one or more of the following actions:

    • Check report cards for absences, low conduct marks and grades;         
    • Call the school if you think your child has been skipping school;         
    • If the school calls you, do not cover for your child to get them off the hook. This tells them that there are no consequences for breaking rules.

    Teenagers thrive with parents who care enough to enforce rules and are available to provide help when it's needed.

    Whom should I talk with first on the campus?

    Check in with your student’s assistant principal or the attendance clerk. One of these individuals can review your child’s absences with you and let you know next steps.

    Why did my student lose credit?

    TEC section 25.092 reads “…any grade level from kindergarten through grade 12 may not be given credit or a final grade for a class unless the student is in attendance for at least 90 percent of the days the class is offered.” Click here to read entire policy.

    Is a doctor's note required for each absence?

    No, a doctor's note is not required for each absence. When a student's absence for personal illness exceeds 5 consecutive days, the principal or attendance committee may require that the student present a statement from a physician or health clinic verifying the illness or condition that caused the student's extended absence from school as a condition of classifying the absence as one for which there are extenuating circumstances. If a student has established a questionable pattern of absences, the principal or attendance committee may require that a student present a physician's or clinic's statement of illness after a single day's absence as a condition of classifying the absence as one for which there are extenuating circumstances.

    Why does my student have different attendance rates for each course?

    For high school courses, attendance is taken for every class period because students are taking courses for credit to complete their high school diploma. Please your attendance clerk or assistant principal for a specific explanation to your student’s attendance.

    How does the 90% law impact middle school students?

    For middle school students who are taking courses for high school credit, the high school rules apply. To earn credit for all middle school courses, they must meet the 90% attendance requirement by the end of the year.

    What activities may be assigned to recover attendance?

    The method of credit approval or recovery is unique to each student. Examples of actions under the Principal’s Plan for recovery may include but are not limited to:

    • Attend Saturday school or Twighlight School
    • Additional work is assigned
    • Tutoring/study hall time is assigned
    • Any combination of the above or
    • Other academic activities as assigned


How Can YOU Help Improve Attendance?

    • Build regular routines for bedtime and the morning.
    • Seek support from school staff or community groups to help with transportation, health and safety, food bank distribution and more .
    • Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session.
    • Develop back up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Ask a family member, neighbor or another parent for help.
    • Follow the proper school guidelines for reporting excused absences in a timely manner.
    • Allow your child to stay home only when he/she has a contagious illness or is too sick to be comfortable.
    • Make sure your child exercises, eats a balanced diet, and gets plenty of sleep. This will help him/her to be mentally and physically ready to learn, and strengthen the immune system.
    • Read all information sent home by the school. Post important dates on a family bulletin board or on the refrigerator.
    • Give your child enough time to get ready for school in the morning. Prepare lunches, pack school bags, and lay out clothing the night before.
    • Monitor your child's attendance through Parent Portal.
    • Talk about the importance of regular attendance and about how your child feels about school.
    • Make students and their families feel welcome. Greet them when they arrive.
    • Let students know when they are not in school, they are missed. Talk to them about why they were gone, and if there is anything you or the school can do to help.
    • When a student is absent, immediately talk to a family member by personal phone call during the day or evening.
    • Create an environment of mutual respect in which students are comfortable speaking up.
    • Make assignments and schedule tests on Mondays and Fridays to encourage attendance on those days.
    • Seek referrals to other agencies or district support when students face challenging family problems or connect them with the campus counselor / social worker.
    • Provide high expectations for all students. Help them focus on their strengths, and challenge all children to work to their full potential.
    • Create learning opportunities for students to work together-either during whole-group or small-group lessons, or with peer tutoring. 
    • Re-engage students through mentoring.
    • Limit hall passes and period absences.
    • Take attendance every class period.
    • Notify parents of student absences in a timely manner.
    • Follow-up on uncleared absences.
    • Work with parents of students with "poor" attendance and refer them your campus FACE Specialist (Elementary & Middle Schools) or Retention Specialists (High Schools) and your campus Attendance Committee.
    • Put together a campus Attendance Committee of appropriate staff members to assist students to improve attendance.
    • Establish protocols for early identification, support for and tracking of "at risk" students.
    • Actively engage all stakeholder groups: parents, students and families, businesses, social service agencies, and higher education.
    • Conduct annual transcript audits to monitor students for on-time graduation.
    • Evaluate programs and services for outcomes and impact.
    • Communicate with families through various forms of media.
    • Arrive to school and all of your classes on time every day.
    • Come to school each day ready to learn with homework and materials in hand.
    • Actively participate in class and ask questions.
    • Notify the attendance office of your absence in a timely manner.
    • Review your attendance regularly, as well as your grades so you are not in jeopardy of getting denied credit.
    • Assume responsibilities for behaviors which support regular attendance.
    • Find at least one adult, other than a parent, who will support your success in school.
    • If you are working after school, make sure your work hours do not interfere with your homework time.
    • Make the school a place where parents and students feel welcome and want to be.
    • Be clear with your students and let them know at the beginning of the year that attendance is very important.
    • Teachers, principals and other school staff should set a good example and try to avoid taking sick leave or vacation days as much as possible.
    • Meet with parents at the beginning of the school year to let them know how important attendance is. 
    • Make sure the entire school has the same policy regarding absences. It is very confusing for students when one teacher is very lax and does not mind absences and another teacher is very strict. Support consistency.
    • Incentivize perfect attendance as well as improved attendance throughout the year.
    • Talk to students about why they were gone and let them know they were missed. If students start slacking off with school attendance, address the problem right away.
    • Find out underlying reasons for poor attendance, so you can deal with the real problem. For example, is there a bully students are scared of? 
    • Forge a relationship with local law enforcement and make them allies in showing the community, family and students that school is the place to be.
    • Forge a relationship with local businesses so that they cooperate in encouraging students to go to school and not congregate at businesses during school hours.
    • Invite parents and students to campus events in support of attendance.

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