Coming to school is very important for student success—every day counts! That’s why we have rules about attendance to make sure every student comes to school and is ready to learn:
- Students who reach five years of age on or before September 30 of the current school year are required to come to school on every school day. Students must attend school daily until they meet high school graduation requirements or reach their 18th birthday (DC Official Code § 38-202(a).
- Absences are only ‘excused’ if they are one of the types on the school’s list of acceptable excuses. A parent or guardian’s permission is not enough to make an absence ‘excused.’ Absences will only be ‘excused’ if a valid explanation is given to the school in a reasonable time.
- To be considered ‘present,’ students must be at school for 80% of the school day. This means being late or skipping a class may end up counting as an absence.
- Students and their parents have a right to know how many absences they have. In most cases, calling the school will allow you to find out this information.
- After five unexcused absences, students are by law guaranteed a Student Support Team (SST) meeting to help students work on attendance issues. SST meetings should include the school attendance counselor, a teacher, an administrator, and sometimes a school nurse or social worker. Parents are also supposed to attend the first meeting.
- Under DC law, students between 5 and 13 years old who have 10 or more unexcused absences within a school year will be referred to the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) for possible action.
- The law also requires that students between 14 and 17 years old who have 15 or more unexcused absences within a school year be referred to court for possible legal action against them and their parents.