On Monday September 24, the Milford School Board voted to approve a stricter Student Attendance Policy for grades K-12. In an effort to discourage a pattern of tardiness and absences from the districtwide student body, the School Board further defined unexcused and excused absences, tardiness and truancy in the new policy.
Previously, the attendance policy stated that following the 5th day of unexcused absence by a student, the parents would receive a warning letter regarding truancy court but there were no penalties associated with student absences.
“I think the concern over last year’s policy is there was not enough in there to get kids to come to school,” commented School Board member Renata Wiley. “We had kids last year that missed so much time that some felt they shouldn’t have graduated. This new policy may not be perfect but it is a step in the right direction.”
According to the new adopted policy, after the 10th absence in a semester, for any reason, or 20th absence in an entire year course, for any reason, a student will be denied credit for that course (Grade 8-12) or retained in the current grade (K-8). The Milford Board of Education defines absences from school as both excused or unexcused absences. School sponsored activities are exempt and will not count toward the student’s absentee record.
“We want our students to be in school and they will not learn if they are not in school,” commented Milford School Board member Marvin Schelhouse. “Parents need to be involved with this new attendance policy, there is only so much that teachers can do.”
Following the 7th day of an absence in a semester class or the 14th day of absence in an entire year course, the building administration will meet with the student and the parent/guardian. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss and attempt to rectify the attendance issue before it proceeds further and consequences are issued. Once denied credit for a course, students will be expected to remain in the course to establish the needed pre-requisite coursework for future classes.
A new attendance appeal process is also established under the new attendance policy to provide reasonable explanation for extreme cases. Each school in the Milford School District will establish an Attendance Appeal Committee which will be comprised of building administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, nurses, dean of students or other building staff as needed.
According to the new policy, “Upon notification of credit denial (Grade 8-12) or retention (K-8) due to a violation of the attendance policy, parents/guardians have five (5) school days to respond to the building principal in writing with the desire to appeal the decision of the administration.” It will be up to the building attendance review committee to affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the administration.
The decision of the building attendance appeal committee may be appealed to the Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Kohel. The Superintendent will meet with the parents/guardians and student and render a decision on the case. The new policy will be retroactive, meaning that absences so far this year will be counted towards a student’s absences for this semester and school year.