In accordance with Georgia Code 20-2-690-2, Madison County established an Attendance Protocol Committee. The purpose of this committee is: " to ensure coordination and cooperation among officials, agencies, and programs involved in compulsory attendance issues, to reduce the number of unexcused absences from school, and to increase the percentages of students present to take tests which are required to be administered under the laws of this state", to reduce the number of total absences of students from school, complying with "No Child Left Behind", and to reduce student tardiness and early leaves.
The Attendance Protocol Committee consisted of Chief Judge of the Superior Court, Juvenile Court Judge, District Attorney's office, Department of Juvenile Justice, School Superintendent, school board member, school principal, School Social Worker, Sheriff's Department Representative, Danielsville Police Department Representative, Comer Police Department Representative, Department of Family and Children's Services, board of health, and Advantage Behavioral Health Services. The Attendance Protocol Committee has proposed this procedure for the Madison County Board of Education.
The Madison County Board of Education adopts the following policies and procedures to reduce absences and tardies.
The Madison County School System will notify the parent(s), guardian or other person who has control or charge of the student when such student has five unexcused absences and 8 excused/unexcused absences. The notice will outline the penalty and consequences of such absences and that each subsequent absence after the fifth unexcused/unverified absence will constitute a separate offense. The parent(s), guardians or person having charge of the student will be informed of the possible referral to the Truancy Panel if the student misses a total 15 absences either excused, unexcused and/or unverified absences. In addition, the parent(s), guardian or other person who has charge of a student will be notified when a student has missed 5 and 10 unexcused tardies/ early leaves from school along with the possible consequences. The parent(s)/guardian will also have a conference with the school officials after 15 unexcused tardies/early leaves.
Students that accumulate 30 days of excused or unexcused/unverified absences and having at least five unexcused/unverified absences are in violation of Georgia code 20-2-690-2. The school system will file charges with the appropriate enforcement agency and /or courts as outlined in the State Code, if such charges have not already been filed. A student will be referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice and is subject to any penalties outlined by Juvenile court. Parent(s), guardians or any person having charge of said student will have charges filed in the appropriate court and will be subject to a fine not less than $25 and not greater that $100, imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, community service or any combination of such penalties , at the discretion of the court. Each absence over the five unexcused/unverified absences may constitute a separate offense.
Notification by Mail
After two reasonable attempts to notify the parent, guardian or other person who has charge of the student, the Madison County School System will send written notice via certified mail with return receipt requested or by first class mail. (Amended 6/20/12)
Also, the Madison County School System requires that all its public schools provide the parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of each student enrolled in public school a written summary of possible consequences and penalties for failing to comply with compulsory attendance.
Statement of Receipt
By September 1 of each year or within 30 school days of a student's enrollment in the Madison County School System, the parent(s), guardian, or other person having control or charge of such student must sign a statement indicating receipt of a written statement outlining the attendance policy and all possible consequences and penalties. Each school shall retain a copy of the signed statement on file until the end of the school year.
In addition, students age ten and older by September 1 must sign a statement indicating receipt of the written statement outlining the attendance policy and all possible consequences and penalties for non-compliance to the local system’s policy. Each school shall retain a copy of the signed statement on file until the end of the school year.
The Madison County Board of Education adopts, as part of the student codes of conduct developed pursuant to O.C.G.A 20-2-735, a definition of truancy that contains the minimum standards related to student attendance and a summary of possible consequences and penalties for truancy established in State Board rule (160-5-1-.10).
The Madison County School System will include possible dispositions for unruly children, in accordance with O.C.G.A. 15-11-67.
Student Transferring into Madison County
Students transferring into Madison County School System who have had attendance issues at their previous school will be immediately subject to the Madison County Attendance Policy. Student’s attendance will be treated as if they had been enrolled in Madison County School System since the beginning of the school year. Each school will promptly notify the School Social Worker of an enrolling student with an attendance problem, through the regular referral process. The school will insure that the appropriate forms are signed by the parent/caregiver and student, when applicable, with regards to the unexcused absences. The School Social Worker will consult the previous school system, when necessary, to learn of prior interventions concerning attendance, work with the student and parent(s)/guardian to improve attendance and to make any necessary referrals to the appropriate court(s) in Madison County.
Definitions for Student Attendance Protocol
Truant- any child subject to compulsory attendance who during the school calendar year has more than five days of unexcused absences or has more than 15 days absences, excused or unexcused.
Exception for suspension- School days missed as a result of an out of school suspension shall not count as absences for the purpose of determining student truancy.
Excused Absences- Students are excused from school if:
1. In the case of a student's personal illness, attendance in school endangers a student's health or the health of others, or conditions rendering attendance impossible or hazardous to student health or safety. The student will present documentation from the parent/guardian with regard to each day’s absence. Students have five school days to present the documentation to be considered excused. With proper verification a student with extended illnesses may be eligible for hospital/homebound instruction as outlined by the State Board of Education.
(With regard to the local attendance policy, students that turn in a medical note to the school for the absence will be marked “medically excused”. Students turning in a “parent note” to the school will be marked excused for that day. Excessive “excused” absences can still result in a referral to the Truancy Panel and possibly the courts.)
2. In the event of a serious illness in a student's immediate family necessitating absence from school. Appropriate medical documentation may be requested regarding the family member upon return to school for the purpose of validating that the absence is an excused absence. "Immediate family" is defined as the parents/step-parents/guardians, siblings/step-siblings and grandparents.
3. A court order or order by a government agency, including pre-induction physical examinations for service in the armed services, mandating absence from school. Appropriate documentation must be presented to the school upon returning to be considered excused.
4. Religious holidays.
5. When the student is serving as a Page of the Georgia General Assembly they shall be counted present.
6. Local boards of education may allow a period of one day for registering to vote or voting in a public election.
7. School related activities that require a student to be absent from school.
8. Death in immediate family. Students shall be allowed three days absence for an in-state funeral and 10 days for an out-of-state funeral. Proof of funeral may be requested by the school as a means to validate the absences.
9. A student whose parent/guardian is in the armed forces of the United States or National Guard, and has been called to duty for or is on leave from overseas deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, shall be granted excused absences, up to a maximum of five school days per school year, for the day or days missed from school to visit with his or her parent/guardian prior to their deployment or during their leave. "Nothing in this Code shall be construed to require a local school system to revise any policies relating to maximum number of excused and unexcused absences for any purpose (O.C.G.A 20-3-692.1)." The school should be notified prior to these absences in order to assist the student in gathering work that will be missed. The parent/guardian should provide the school with verification of active duty status, i.e. military orders or letter from commander. These absences shall not apply to the attendance procedure outlined in the Attendance Policy.
A foster care student who attends court proceedings relating to the student's foster care shall be listed as being present by the school and shall not be counted absent, either excused or unexcused, for any day, portion of a day or days missed from school (O.C.G.A 20-2-692.2)
Nurse's Excused Absence- Students will be marked excused, for that day, if the school nurse determines the student should not remain at school due to illness, nits/lice or other medical reason.
Grades and Absences
Final student grades shall not be penalized because of absences if the following conditions are met:
1. Absences are justified and validated for excusable reasons.
2. Make up work for excused absences was completed satisfactorily.
(Schools are not required to provide make-up work for unexcused absences.)
Tardy to School-A student is tardy to school when he/she arrives after the first bell signifying the start of the school day.
Tardy to Class-A student is tardy to class when he/she arrives to class after the tardy bell.
Excused Tardy would include verifiable events that are physically out of your control such as, an accident, road closed due to accident, power/water outage or appropriate documentation from a medical facility following a medical or dental appointment.
Unexcused Tardy would include: over-sleeping, traffic too heavy, errand for parents/students, delay at train crossing, car trouble, missing school bus, etc.
**All students tardy to school, as defined in this protocol, must check in at the front office before going to class. **
Leaving Early from School-A student will be considered leaving school early if they check out of school before the last bell of the school day.
Excused Leaving Early- Students who leave school early but have been in school more than half the day will be considered "excused leaving early" for medical/dental appointments, with appropriate documentation from the medical facility upon returning to school, personal illness, etc.
Unexcused Leave Early- Students will be considered "leaving early unexcused" for any other reason.
1. Teacher/ School personnel will fully document any contact and attempted contact with the parent(s)/guardian regarding a student's attendance i.e. calls made, letters/notes sent home, conferences, etc. When the student reaches three consecutive days, excused and unexcused, absences the teacher or school designee will contact the parent(s)/guardian to inform them of their child's attendance, the possible referral to the Truancy Panel and the possibility that they can be charged in Juvenile and/or Magistrate court for violation of the state compulsory attendance law (GA Code 20-2-690.2). The teacher/designee shall attempt to reach the parent at least three separate times spanning at least two days, and document such attempts, before sending a note of explanation of the offenses to the home (student agenda or letter). Medically excused days are not counting towards this step.
2. In the case of five unexcused absences, the parent(s)/guardian will receive a letter stating the Compulsory Attendance Law and explaining the possible consequences/ penalties if they reach six unexcused absences. No cases shall constitute a violation until the child has accumulated five or more unexcused absences. The letter should be signed by the parent(s)/guardian and returned to the school. This letter will remain in the student's file for the remainder of the academic year. A student of 10 years of age and older will also sign a letter stating the Compulsory Attendance Law and explaining the possible consequences and penalties to him/her. This letter will also remain on file at the school for the remainder of the academic year.
If the school is unable to secure such signature(s) after two reasonable attempts, the school shall send a certified letter, return receipt requested or a letter by first class mail, explaining the possible consequences and penalties to the parent(s)/guardian. This will hold the school in compliance with the state law.
The school will notify the School Social Worker (SSW) when a student has reached the sixth unexcused absence and after receiving a signed letter from the parent in order to work with the family to improve attendance and to consider filing charges in the appropriate court.
3. If a teacher/school personnel see the need for further intervention they may make a referral to the school social worker for assistance after:
-Elementary Schools- Eight excused/unexcused absences
-Middle School- Eight excused/unexcused absences
-High School- When deemed most appropriate
The school will complete the social worker referral form requesting social work assistance. The school must include documentation of their efforts to intervene in the situation. Absences with a doctor's written excuse and in/out of school suspensions are not counted in the days.
4. SSW works with the family, student and/or school faculty on:
a) Family issues-case management, counseling, referrals to outside agencies, discussion of consequences for poor attendance etc.
b) Student- individual or group work/counseling, discussion of consequences for poor attendance etc.
c) School- behavior modification strategies, positive reinforcements for improved attendance, meetings etc.
5. SSW will intervene in an attempt to reduce absenteeism. SSW begins work with informing the parent(s) of the attendance situation and inviting them to call to discuss the situation, also, informing them of the Truancy Panel process below and the State Compulsory Attendance law.
6. SSW will communicate with the school about intervention efforts by follow-ups in writing and verbally when possible.
Truancy Panel Process
1. The Truancy Panel is designed as a last resort problem-solving forum for the family, school, and community prior to court action. When a student has been absent 15 school days without a doctor's written note presented to the school, the SSW will discuss the possible referral to the truancy panel with the school administrator. SSW will refer the case to the Truancy Panel after the administrator and SSW have made the decision to do so. In/out of school suspensions and absences with a doctor's written excuses are not included in the total number of days absent.
2. Truancy Panel members will be (ideally) representatives from:
Department of Juvenile Justice
Department of Family and Children Services
Family Connection Program
Superintendent or Assistant Superintendents
Principals/ Assistant Principals
School Social Worker
Other school personnel who work outside the classroom that may be involved with a particular case, i.e. Special Education Director, or School Psychologist may be asked to be present during certain cases.
2. SSW prepares a schedule of appointments for the panel and will mail out a letter to the families mandating their presence at the truancy panel at the scheduled time. The parent's are asked to confirm receiving the letter by calling the SSW within 24 hours of delivery. The parent's may request a postponement up to one day before the scheduled meeting with a valid reason. The letter shall also state that failure to appear before the panel without prior notification may result in an immediate referral to the appropriate court(s). The parent(s)/guardian are responsible for maintaining a current mailing address with the school.
3. The Truancy Panel chairperson leads the discussion, beginning with introductions, restating the reason for the meeting, consequences of continued absenteeism and opens the floor to give the family and panel opportunity for open dialogue in an effort to resolve the issue. Recommendations for any further outside assistance will be made at this time.
4. The family/student is informed that one more unexcused absence without medical excuse will result in a warrant being issued for the parent and/or student, if appropriate. An attendance contract will be signed by all party's stating the compulsory attendance law, any recommendations made by the panel or parent, and that any attendance problems in the future may result in court action being taken against the parent and/or student.
5. The session closes when it is apparent that the family understands the possible consequences and negotiations or arrangements have been made.
1. SSW will continue to work with the family regarding attendance.
2. School notifies the SSW of any unexcused absences of a student that has been before the panel. The SSW will confer with the school administration then may file charges in the courts at this time, if appropriate. The school or SSW may wish to contact the family to inquire about the unexcused absence before court action to make sure they don't have a medical excuse. The SSW will send the parent/guardian a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested prior to any judicial proceedings being imposed. (Amended 6/20/12)
Possible consequence and penalties may include being found "guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine not less than $25.00 and not greater than $100.00, or imprisonment not to exceed thirty days, community service, or any combination of such penalties, at the discretion of the court. Each day's absence from school in violation of this part after the child's school system notifies the parent, or guardian of five unexcused days of absence shall constitute a separate offense. (O.C.G.A 20-2-690.1)
3. The SSW will represent the school in any court hearings, unless otherwise instructed, and provide necessary information requested by the courts. The school or school system may provide any necessary witnesses if appropriate.
Student Withdrawals (limitations)
The Madison County School System is authorized to withdraw a student who:
Has missed more than 10 consecutive days of unexcused absences,
Is not subject to compulsory attendance; and
Is not receiving instructional services from the local school system through homebound instruction or instructional services required by Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Parental Notification of Student Withdrawal
The Superintendent or the superintendent's designee shall use his or her best efforts to notify parent(s), guardian(s), or other person(s) who have charge of a student if the school system plans to withdraw such student who is younger than 18 years of age and is not subject to compulsory school attendance.
The Madison County School System is authorized to withdraw a student subject to compulsory attendance only if the local superintendent or the superintendent's designee has determined the student is no longer a resident of the local school system or is enrolled in a private school or home school program.
An un-emancipated minor who is older then the age of mandatory attendance as outline in Georgia code 20-2-690.1 will have to meet the following requirements before withdrawing from school prior to receiving their high school diploma:
- Shall present a written document (available from the school), signed by His/her parent(s)/guardian, to the principal of the school requesting to withdraw from school prior to receiving a diploma.
- The student and parent(s)/guardian shall have a meeting with the principal or his designee within two days of the receipt of the withdrawal document. The principal/designee shall make a reasonable attempt to share with the student and parent/guardian the educational options available, including the opportunity to pursue a general educational development (GED) diploma, attending night school and the consequences of not having earned a high school diploma.
Teachers or school designee will notify parent(s)/guardian after five unexcused tardies or "early leaves” to discuss the situation and encourage being on time to school or staying until the end of the day.
After ten unexcused tardies or "early leaves" the school shall send a letter to the parent(s)/guardian outlining the tardy policy, outlining possible consequences and encouraging all day attendance at school.
After the student has missed 15 unexcused tardies or "early leaves" the school shall have a meeting with the parent(s)/guardian with a school panel concerning the student's attendance. The school panel will consist of a school administrator and teachers. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss with the parent/guardian the reasons for the tardies and make attempts to improve these and possible consequences including possible referrals to the School Social Worker (SSW) and Truancy Panel. The parents will sign a contract stating the Tardy Procedure, possible consequences and agreeing to improve.
** If all excuses are verified by a doctor or medical office, students can accumulate up to twelve tardies or early leaves and still be eligible for perfect attendance. Students with 6 or more tardies or early leaves that are not verified by a doctor or medical office will not be eligible for perfect attendance. **
If the student reaches 20 tardies or "early leaves" a referral will be made to the SSW. The SSW will contact the parent(s)/guardian concerning the tardies and explain the tardy policy, possible consequences and have the parent(s)/guardian sign a contract for improvement with tardies.
If the student continues to be tardy to school or leave early without excuses then the SSW will confer with school administration concerning a referral to the Truancy Panel. A referral will be made to the Truancy Panel if the SSW and school administration agree this would be in the best interest of the student.
The referral process and procedures to the Truancy Panel for tardies will be the same as it is for attendance.