For the last three weeks I've been sending email notifications (through RenWeb, so please verify with the front office that your email contact information is correct!) to parents whose children are late or absent more than four (4) times. While I'm fine tuning when and who receives these notifications, they are usually sent Tuesday afternoon or evening (sometimes with a separate email when a child needs to stay for Thursday after school detention). Additionally, I've noticed an upswing in parents coming in towards the end of the day (especially between 2-3 pm) to pick up their children through the front office.
This is what our Parent-Student Handbook (which, incidentally, all parents & students have signed and committed to following) says about these procedures (italicized text is directly from the handbook):
During arrival, all students are to enter the campus through the 11th street gym entrance, the Gumwood driveway entrance or through the Montessori entrance with siblings, if arriving before 7:45 a.m. Montessori students arriving after 7:20 a.m. may go directly to their classrooms through the 12th street entrance.
Morning assembly for students in 1st – 8th grades begins promptly at 7:45 a.m. in the gym. Students arriving after that time but before 8 a.m. should enter through the front office to be marked as tardy and receive a tardy pass. Students arriving after 9:00 a.m. or leaving before 10:30 a.m. and not returning are marked absent.
In compliance with the Texas State Education Law and the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department (TCCED, accreditation agency), Our Lady of Sorrows School follows compulsory attendance laws. Therefore, a student in PK3 - 8th grade who is enrolled in school must meet the legal attendance requirements. A school calendar may provide a total of 180 instructional days. A student who does not attend school for a minimum of 164 of those days or misses more than 18 days (10%) of the school year, may be retained for loss of academic instruction. The school calendar is published prior to the beginning of each school year and provided with this handbook. Parents/guardians are expected to honor this calendar when planning vacations and appointments. Regular attendance is essential for a continuous, uninterrupted program of instruction as a basis for academic success.
In the event that a student fails to attend the required 164 days, the parent or guardian is required to meet with the school Principal before May. Parent or guardian must furnish reasons for the absences, including medical verification before credit is given for the school year.
Acceptable reasons may include the following as "extenuating circumstances" for the purpose of granting credit: personal sickness, sickness or death in the immediate family, quarantine, or participation in approved, school sponsored, extracurricular activities.
A written statement giving reasons for an absence must be brought within 3 days to the student’s teacher upon the student’s return in order for the absence to be marked Excused. These notes/letters will be retained in the office for one year. Please avoid writing the absence note on a napkin or a receipt. Should absence for any reason other than illness seem imperative, parents are requested to consult with the Principal and present a written reason for the absence.
Students who are absent due to illness have one day for each day of absence to make up the missed assignments, quizzes or tests. For example, a student who was absent three days would be given three school days to complete the missed work.
When a student is absent for two or more days due to illness, a parent may call the school office before 9:30 a.m. to arrange for homework assignments. Homework assignments may be picked up at the school office between 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
For short absences, students should make arrangement with classmates regarding assignments. Students may also receive missed assignments from their teacher when they return to school.
Arrangements for regular classroom tests missed because of an excused absence are to be made with the individual teachers. These tests must be taken within one week of the original test date.
Early Departures During School Day
When a student is to leave school before the regular dismissal time, a written note is required. The note is to be presented to the teacher in charge at the time of departure. The student is to report to the office at the designated time and is to be picked up by the parent who signs out the child. Class is not interrupted to call a student to the office. The school does not release a child to anyone other than the parent, legal guardian, or adult listed on the school record. A student may not be released early on a continual basis. Patterns of early departure or consistent appointments made at the same class time will result in a conference with administration. The school encourages all doctor and dental appointments be made after 3pm when the instructional day has ended.
Excused and Unexcused Absences
Excused absences are granted for illness, death in the immediate family, or any other unusual and unexpected events which must be cleared by the school Principal.
Pre-planned absences, such as vacations, will be counted as “Unexcused” and are discouraged. Teachers will not accommodate parents by outlining lesson plans in advance and no assignment will be given in anticipation of the vacation. Teachers will not be required to give make-up tests or assignments for absences due to vacations.
If an absence excuse has not be submitted within the required 3 days, the absence will be marked Unexcused. An unexcused absence will result in non-graded make-up work, and zero (0%) credit will be issued for that assignment. Zero credit is averaged into recorded grades and are detrimental to a student’s final average. For that reason, any unexcused absences are strongly discouraged.
Promptness is an indication of good self-discipline. Habitual tardiness seriously disrupts the educational process of other students and affects school performance of the student who is tardy. It is the responsibility of the parents to make sure the student is punctual to school. Habitual tardiness will require a conference between the parents, student, and Principal.
Excessive Absences and Tardies
The following consequences are in place to address excessive absences and tardies:
- 8 tardies equal 1 day of absence per 9 weeks quarter.
- 18 tardies (maximum for full year) may result in possible blocked enrollment (grades 1st - 7th), and results in elimination from extracurricular activities for the school year.
- 8 Unexcused Absences – elimination from extra-curricular activities (per quarter).
- 16 Absences (excused or unexcused) may result in possible academic retention or blocked enrollment for the following school year as per TCCED mandate. Exclusion from extracurricular activities for remainder of school year will be implemented.
Please note the following:
- the school day begins at 7:45 am for all students every school day - once the bell rings they are late
- if a child is "only" 10 minutes late or "only" pulled out 10 minutes early every day, they lose 30 hours of school time each school year
- being late to school greatly impacts everyone, not just the late child
- even with a medical excuse, too many absences can result in retention or blocked enrollment
- early departures are strongly discouraged except for emergencies; if something can be scheduled, please don't schedule it during the school day or immediately after school
- early departures disrupt not only your child, but their whole classroom
- Montessori students are also negatively impacted by too much lateness and too many absences
- taking an extra day of vacation before or after school vacations count as unexcused absences
- academics for all students tend to dip lower when they are habitually (more than twice a month) late or absent
Please work with yourself, spouse, family members and other children to ensure a good start to each day, including preparing for school the night before (clothing / homework / supplies / lunch boxes), cutting back on extracurricular involvements or parental commitments (so children aren't staying up late to finish homework), making sure children get enough sleep, and waking up even 15 minutes earlier every morning (to help with both parental and child prep time). Thank you.
Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III