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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17109




The Board of School Directors recognizes that regular school attendance is essential to the academic progress of all students. Therefore, the board will expect school administrators to enforce the Pennsylvania compulsory attendance law to ensure the right of every student to a continuous educational program. 


Absence from school

Absence from school is defined as the non-attendance of a pupil on those days and half days that school is in session. Tardiness is defined as the absence of a pupil at the time any morning or afternoon session begins. When a child is illegally absent for a portion of a day, such portions may be considered as cumulative and translated into equivalent days.


Compulsory school attendance law requires a child of compulsory age to be in attendance at school, unless absent for an approved reason, and charges the parent of the child with the responsibility for such attendance. Compulsory school age refers to the period of a child’s life for the time when a child enters school as a beginner, which shall be no later than age eight years, until the age of seventeen or until graduation from a regularly accredited senior high school, whichever comes first.


In general, absences for the following reasons would be excused:


1.                  Religious holidays and religious instruction*

2.                  Illness or recovery from an accident

3.                  Quarantine of the home

4.                  Death in the family

5.                  Court appearance

6.                  Family emergency (unavoidable)


At the discretion of the principal, students may be excused for reasons that are listed below:


1.                  Educational trips and tours           4.         Health care*

2.                  Impassable roads                         5.         Tutorial work*           

3.                  Inclement weather                        6.         College visitations*

      7.         Visit to homeland*                                        


Absence for other urgent reasons shall be ruled excused only when it is unavoidable and the reason affects the child and when it is not for the convenience of the parent. Notification of the building principal is required in all situations referenced above.


  •  See Administrative Procedures. These absences require prior written request and the principal’s approval.


Revised by the School Board – July 28, 1997

Amended by the School Board – July 26, 2004


After any absences, students have three school days to submit to the principal/designee a valid written excuse from the parent or legal guardian. If the excuse is not received within three school days, the absence will be considered unexcused. The mere fact that a parent has sent a written excuse does not necessarily mean the absence is “excused.” Students experiencing excessive absences shall be monitored from year to year.   


Corrective Measures for Excessive Absences

 Principals will make provisions for teaching the value of regular school attendance as well as investigating and counseling students who are frequently absent. Corrective measures for excessive absence/truancy may include counseling sessions, parent conferences, a reprimand, detention, suspension from school or a criminal complaint being filed. If student attendance is not modified by the less severe measures, repeated offenses may result in expulsion from school. 


When a student has been absent a total of ten (10) days without a doctor’s excuse during any school year, a referral to the principal will be made. The parents shall receive written notification of the excessive absences. The purpose of the letter is to explain that the principal has the prerogative of requiring a medical excuse for each absence beyond the level of fifteen (15) days if absences beyond fifteen days are to be declared legal.


Students who were previously required to submit medical excuses or who were prosecuted through the office of the district magistrate due to chronic absenteeism are required to submit a doctor’s excuse for each absence after five (5) absences. 


Unexcused and Unlawful Absences


Unexcused absence is the absence of a pupil due to parental neglect, illegal employment, or truancy. Unlawful absences are considered unexcused absences for all pupils under seventeen years of age. For any day a student is illegally absent, the student will be denied the opportunity to make up work or tests. The school will impose the following penalties on students for unexcused or unlawful absences:


1.                  First Offense (three days of unexcused absence)


a.       The “School District’s Official Notice of Absence to Parents” will be sent by registered mail to notify parents.


b.      A parental conference will be required.


2.                  Subsequent Offense(s)


a.                   A criminal complaint will be submitted to the district justice for each day beyond the three days listed above. The outcome may result in a fine, parenting education program or jail sentence for the parent, or a fine, adjudicated alternative program, community service and a suspension of operating privileges or ineligibility for learner’s permit for the pupil.


b.                  A parental conference will be required.


c.                   Any high school student accumulating ten unexcused absences in a marking period will be denied credit for all courses for which he/she is registered unless the student can satisfactorily make up the time missed through attendance at the Academic Assistance Program. (This option is only available if recommended by the principal and accompanied by a written contract outlining the makeup requirements.)


d.                  Students absent for ten consecutive days without a valid excuse may be dropped from the school rolls if the student is a runaway or if the student’s return to school is doubtful. If the student is of compulsory attendance age, the principal will continue to pursue the matter through legal measures with the ultimate goal being the student’s return to school.


3.                  Unexcused Absences After the Seventeenth Birthday

An effort should be made to continue with the same penalties, excluding legal action, as for students within the compulsory attendance age. If this is not effective, school-parent and school-student conferences may be used to determine if continuing education is practical for that student. (Are all parties willing to cooperate? Are there changes, which could be made to enhance the student’s willingness to attend?) If this is unsuccessful, it is suggested that the student’s academic achievement levels be assessed so that the possibility of a General Equivalency Diploma can be determined.


Record Keeping and Reporting

The responsibility for maintaining accurate attendance rolls and accounting for absences belongs to the building principals. Their responsibilities are:


  1. To keep an accurate record of all students in attendance at the beginning of the school year, new entrants, withdrawals and re-entries.

  2. To perform daily reporting and recording of absences.

  3. To maintain cumulative records of each student’s absences/tardiness.

  4. To inform parents of student’s unexcused absences.

  5. To monitor attendance patterns and implement follow-up procedures for students with poor attendance records. Follow-up includes, but is not limited to, calling parents, counseling sessions, detention and prosecutions.


The task of summarizing attendance data for all district buildings, Dauphin County Technical School, CAIU, private schools and institutions and other intermediate units, etc., is the responsibility of district office personnel under the supervision of the Director of Pupil Services. 



Administrative Procedures


Educational Trips or Tours

Educational trips will be considered for approval if the principal determines that the trip will be educationally significant to the student. Since trips are not automatically approved, parents are cautioned to consult with the principal to determine if the planned trip warrants approval. In order for the principal to make such a determination, the parent/guardian must submit the request for an educational trip at least seven (7) days prior to the trip. Parents are required to provide the following information:


1.                  School days to be missed


2.                  Destination of the trip


3.                  Educational motive of the trip


4.                  Supervisor of student while on trip


When more than one child in the family will be participating in an educational trip, the request must be submitted to all appropriate building principals for approval. The trip will not be approved if the principal determines that:


1.                  The trip is not adequately educational to warrant an absence from school; or


2.                  The student’s prior attendance record is not adequate to approve additional days out of school; or


3.                  The trip would be detrimental to the student’s progress or success in school; or 


4.                  The trip takes place during the final two weeks of the school term, unless an emergency exists; or


5.                  Requests exceed a total of five school days in one school year.


It is the student’s responsibility to get assignments from his/her teachers. The teachers will need at least one week’s notice before departure. All work must be turned in within five days of the student’s return to school. Work must be made up on the initiative of the student and at the reasonable convenience of the teacher in consultation with the building principal.


Students who have not been granted an excused absence will be considered unexcused. They will not be permitted to make up written work or to take any tests or examinations missed during such absence.


Health Care

Upon written parental request, a pupil may be excused during school hours for the purpose of obtaining professional health care or therapy if the following requirements are met:


a.                   Health or therapeutic services are to be rendered by board certified licensed medical practitioners.


b.                  It is not practical or possible for the pupil to receive the services outside of school hours.


c.                   The time of necessary absence from school involves a minimum of interference with the pupil’s regular program of studies.


A re-admittance form signed by the doctor will be needed upon return to school.


Tutorial Work

Upon written parental request, a pupil may be excused during school hours for the purpose of receiving tutorial instruction in a field not offered in the district’s curricula only under the following circumstances:


a.                   The excused absence does not interfere with the student’s regular program of studies.


b.                  The qualifications of the instructor are approved by the superintendent.


c.                   Any instruction or transportation costs associated with receiving tutorial instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent/guardian involved.


Religious Holidays


 A.                Upon written parental request, and approval of the principal/designee, a pupil will be excused from school for religious holidays observed by a bonafide religious group.


B.                 A pupil’s absence from school for bonafide religious holidays will be recorded as an excused absence. There shall be no penalty attached to such an excuse.


C.                 The student is responsible for making up tests and assignments within the time frame established in the building homework policy.



Visit to Homeland


            A visit to a family’s homeland may be approved by the building principal, however, the
               district is required to withdraw a student from school when the student has been absent
               for more than ten (10) days. The student will be immediately withdrawn if the district
               is informed that the visit will exceed more than ten (10) days. A student must be enrolled
               in school in the homeland if the visit lasts more than ten (10) days. Upon the student’s
               return, the parent/guardian must re-enroll the student in the school district.

**Please see the Printable Version for the forms associated with this policy**