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Attendance Matters

August 28, 2019
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
OLS students in the classroom

Did You Know?

  • Starting in kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school and leads to patterns of absences as they get older.
  • Research shows that missing 10 percent of school time, or about 18 days in most school districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s just two days a month and that’s known as chronic absence.
  • Missing 10% (or about 18 days) can make it harder to learn to read.  
  • When put in terms of instructional minutes (360 minutes per day as required by TCCB ED for accreditation purposes), if a child misses:
    • 3 days of school, it is equal to 1,080 instructional minutes missed
    • 5 days of school, it is equal to 1,800 instructional minutes missed
    • 8 days of school, it is equal to 2,880 instructional minutes missed
  • Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks. Additionally, being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
  • Absences can affect the whole classroom if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.

Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school—and themselves. Start building this habit in preschool, elementary and middle school so that they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Good attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work.

It is important for us to understand a few data points and the importance of our children being at school each day. As I crunched the data from last year, our students (as a school) were present only 92% of the time. I am looking to improve this number as we strive for excellence each day. I share this with everyone because as we solidify our classroom instruction and routines, and with a holiday (off days) approaching, it is imperative that we are all aware and normed on a few of our policies when it comes to attendance, especially as many may be tempted to look towards holidays as an opportunity for extended weekends.

These policies are outlined in the Parent/Student Handbook that was presented through the enrollment process and digitally signed by parents; it can also be referenced in your child’s planner. I want to reiterate the Diocesan Policy and Local School Policy when it comes to certain absences, specifically “Unexcused Absences”.

The following is directly in the Parent/Student Handbook, except as amended below (

Excused / 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, are counted as “Unexcused” and are discouraged. Teachers do not accommodate parents by outlining lesson plans in advance and no assignments are given in anticipation of the vacation. Upon returning, it is the responsibility of the parent to set up a meeting with teacher and principal to collect assignment(s) missed. A student has exactly 3 days from that meeting to complete all work and exams missed and will receive a grade no higher than a 70 on any test or assignment. Failure to do so will result in a zero (0) entered into the grade book.

I want us to all be aware of the implications this may have on your student as we are adhering to our policies for Excused and Unexcused Absences when they relate to Pre-planned absences and overall implications. As our policy also states:

  • 16 Absences (excused or unexcused) may result in academic retention or blocked enrollment for the following school year as per TCCED mandate. Exclusion from extracurricular activities for remainder of the school year is additionally implemented.

I encourage you to plan accordingly as our academic calendar is finalized in May for the following school year to allow families to make arrangements regarding planned trips and/or planned absences. I would also like to reiterate that I will respect and support any decision you make that you feel is in the best interest of your child as I would also ask that you reciprocate the same when it comes to our obligation to abide by school policies that you have agreed upon.

When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for success in school and in life.” – Attendance Works

Thank you, and I look forward to our continued partnership as we work together throughout the school year to truly promote community and provide a quality education for all.


Israel “Buddy” Martinez Jr., M.Ed.
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School

Tardiness, Absence & Early PickUp

October 15, 2017
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
Photo by JJ Thompson on Unsplash

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

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