Regular and punctual attendance is essential to the overall academic, personal and social development of students. It is a joint responsibility of the parents/guardians of students and the teachers/administrators of the Smithfield Public Schools to convey to students the importance of regular and punctual school attendance.
School districts are required by law and regulations to monitor student daily attendance. Detailed student attendance reports are provided to the Rhode Island Department of Education and are used for individual student review, school accountability, and district and state comparisons across organizations and jurisdictions.
Students must be in school every day of the school year in accordance with the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island 16-19-1. Pursuant to law, students may not miss any part of any day’s instruction and, to that end, should not be late or leave school without good reason.
School District Responsibility
It shall be the responsibility of the school district to establish procedures governing tardiness, early dismissal from school, excused absences, unexcused absences, and truancy including:
- Reporting procedures;
- Recording, tracking and investigating attendance and attendance issues;
- Reporting of student attendance information to state and federal authorities in accordance with state and federal law, mandates, and school department regulations;
- Establishing a system of criteria, consequences, and referral for investigating and addressing excessive absences, truancy, tardiness and dismissals and the failure to notify the school of the reason for the absence/tardiness/dismissal;
- Establishing guidelines (by school) that provide reasonable opportunity for the student to make up work.
Parents/Guardians and the Student Responsibility
Parents/guardians and students are ultimately responsible for regular and punctual school attendance. It is the responsibility of parents/guardians to:
- Abide by the law and mandates governing attendance;
- Stress the importance of regular and punctual school attendance with their child;
- Provide the school with accurate and current daytime telephone numbers where they can be reached;
- Call the school on the day of their child’s absence to provide a clearly-stated reason for the absence;
- Make every effort to schedule personal appointments for their child outside of school hours; provide a doctor’s note when conflicts are unavoidable
- Plan family vacations when school is not in session;
- Arrange for make-up work in a timely manner;
- In cases of long-term illness, notify the school (school nurse and principal) as soon as possible so that provisions may be made for appropriate instruction.
Excused Absence/Tardiness/Early Dismissal
An absence occurs when a student is not present at school or at a school-endorsed activity. Tardiness occurs when a student arrives after the official, documented start time of school. Early dismissal occurs when a student leaves before the documented official end time of the school day. In these cases, the student is temporarily excused from attendance if he/she:
- Is ill and attendance in school would endanger his/her health or the health of others
- Has a medical or dental appointment that cannot be scheduled outside of school hours (a doctor’s note is required in a timely manner OR within 48 hours)
- Has a health emergency within the immediate family
- Has a death in the immediate family
- Is participating in a religious observance of his/her faith
- Is participating in a verified legal court obligation
- Is participating in a college visit (prior approval required)
- Is participating in a military appointment (prior approval required)
If a child is absent for three (3) or more consecutive days due to illness, a doctor’s note and a visit to the school nurse are required upon the student’s return.
Unexcused Absence/Tardiness/Early Dismissal and Truancy
An unexcused absence occurs when a student is not present at school or at a school-endorsed activity, without acceptable cause including but not limited to:
- Absence from school without a parent’s/guardian’s knowledge, permission and/or required notification and documentation (When a student is absent without parent/guardian notification, the school will contact his/her parent or guardian to inform them and ascertain the reason for the absence.)
- Leaving school grounds without a school administrator’s permission or parent’s knowledge.
- Family vacations, which are unexcused. Teachers are not responsible for preparing, in advance, schoolwork that a student will miss during a vacation that is scheduled during school days.
School personnel may distinguish between students who rarely have an unexcused absence and students who have a persistent or chronic pattern of absences. Truancy is not a single event, but is a pattern of incidents of unexcused absence from school and/or any abuse of excused absences.
Notification and Intervention
Chronic absence is defined as 10% or more of days absent, regardless of whether or not the absence is excused. Chronically absent students shall be provided with levels of support and intervention to improve their attendance.
A team (MTSS, child-study or problem-solving) at each building shall review attendance data monthly. If the team determines that an intervention is required, a written plan will be devised and followed over the next 30 days. Whether or not a plan is warranted, the parent/guardian of any child who is chronically absent for five (5) or more excused and/or unexcused absences in any given grading term may be notified in writing of this occurrence by the building principal/assistant principal.
If the pattern of absenteeism, tardiness, or early dismissals continues the following month, a review by team will occur and additional interventions may be suggested. Parents/guardians will be notified in writing and resources within the school, such as involvement of the school counselor or social worker, will be utilized to improve the attendance. Parents/guardians and student may be required to meet with the building principal/designee and other professionals, as needed, to develop a clear plan of action to address chronic absenteeism.
If homelessness is the cause, the social worker and the district liaison to homeless families and youth will provide the necessary supports to reduce barriers to the student’s education. When a student with an IEP has attendance concerns, the IEP team may be convened to determine next steps if school efforts to improve attendance have been unsuccessful.
Each school shall submit a quarterly report, due November 1, January 1, April 1, and End-of-School-Year notifying the superintendent or designee of students who have chronic absenteeism. The report shall include the students’ attendance record, interventions/supports, and outreach to parents/guardians. School administrators may file a petition of truancy in the Rhode Island Family Courts after 3 months of interventions or earlier, if deemed a pervasive issue.
RI Gen. Laws § 16-19-1 & § 16-19-6
National Forum on Education Statistics. (2009). Every School Day Counts: The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Attendance Data (NFES 2009–804), U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
ADOPTED: February 28, 2005
REVISED: August 17, 2009; September 17, 2012; March 11, 2013; September 16, 2013; August 6, 2018