Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Attendance Policy Clarified

By Mariah Cody

Oyster Bay High School’s new attendance policy was implemented into this year’s 2010/2011 syllabus, but not many fully understand what this new policy entails. A letter was mailed home to every household, meetings were held, but questions and complaints are still lingering with what defines an excused and unexcused absence.
The new attendance policy was implemented because students cannot learn unless they are in their class. According to Dr. O’Hara, Oyster Bay High School is one of the last high schools in the area without an attendance policy. Although the specifications of other school’s attendance policies vary, the primary message to students remains constant: be in class.
The main controversies lie in what distinguishes an excused absence from an unexcused absence. According to the new attendance policy, excused absences include personal illness, illness or death in a family, impassable roads due to inclement weather, religious observance, quarantine, required court appearances, medical appointments, college visitations, alternative educational activities, personal reasons with the confirmation of a parent or guardian, and any other reasons that may be approved by the Commissioner of Education. Unexcused absences include vacation, truancy (absence without proper excuse), oversleeping, babysitting, cutting with parental permission, missing school with parental permission, car trouble, and illegal absence from class.
With every piece of legislation come guidelines and logistics. Early departure or lateness must include a parental note or phone call on the same day of the infraction. According to the new attendance policy, it is the parent’s responsibility to follow through on this twenty-four hour deadline. In the case of a chronic absence or lateness/early departure some form of medical confirmation is need in order to make that violation legal.
The number of accepted absences varies between half-year and full-year courses. For half-year courses the maximum number of absences is twelve and for full-year courses twenty-four. Upon the thirteenth absence for half-year courses and the twenty-fifth absence for full-year courses the student will not receive credit for the course. If there are discrepancies amongst the recorded absences, the student’s attendance record will be reviewed by the panel of teachers.
The new attendance policy follows a tight procedure, beginning with a code imprinted on the student’s record stating the nature of the absence (full day, class cut, tardiness, early departure) and ending when, and if, the student accumulates more than the maximum number of absences with a review from the school board.
If there are any further questions contact either Dr. O’Hara, Mr. Imperial, or Ms. Johnson.

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