Attendance Policy Reminder
Pennsylvania Distance Learning Charter School | 2013-14
ATTENDANCE POLICY


Pennsylvania Public School Law requires children to receive the following Educational Learning Hours:

§  Kindergarten: 2.5 per day hours (approximately 12.5 hours per week, completing a minimum of 450 hours per year)

§  Grades 1-6: 5.0 hours per day (approximately 25 hours per week, completing a minimum of 900 hours per year)

§  Grades 7-12: 5.5 hours per day (approximately 27.5 hours per week, completing a minimum of 990 hours per year)

Accordingly, parents are required to supervise daily school attendance to avoid truancy issues. Under the supervision of their parent, students must log into each scheduled course daily, complete and submit assignments as outlined in the student’s course calendar. Parents are responsible for providing PDLCS with written verification of the reason for an absence within (3) days of such absence. A partial day of absence is considered a day of absence from school requiring documentation to  be submitted by the parent to PDLCS. A maximum of ten days of cumulative lawful absences verified by parental notification may be permitted during a school year. All absences beyond ten cumulative days require an excuse from a physician.

Truancy Prevention Process 

It is the belief of PA Distance Learning Charter School that students achieve academic success through consistent attendance, engagement in daily coursework and on-going communication with teachers.  In order for a student to learn expected skills, it is important they develop a positive and responsible approach to study habits through regular school attendance.  

Preventing truancy issues is important to PDLCS and involves many people.  Parents are responsible for ensuring students attend school.  Students are responsible to complete daily coursework with the guidance of teachers and parents.  PDLCS Family Involvement Specialists are responsible for enforcing, tracking and reporting attendance, as well as developing Truancy Elimination Plans to aid families in complying with public cyber-charter school regulations.  Home school districts are responsible for filing truancy documents with the local magisterial district judge.

Attendance is taken on each school calendar day.  Attendance involves daily log-in to each course and completion of assigned daily lesson, which includes submission of assigned coursework for each school calendar day. 

Parents are notified of a full-day of absence through an automated phone reporting system.  Parents may submit an Excused Absence Form within 3days of a reported absence. There is a maximum limit of ten parental excuses in one school year.  Medical excuses must be submitted for all subsequent absences.  Students with more than twenty absences in one school year may be prohibited from progressing to the next grade level.

Unlawful or unexcused absences occur following a student’s absence for which a parental or medical excuse is not submitted within 3-days of the reported absence. Home school districts are notified after the 3rd unexcused absence.  Children and Youth Services are notified for students under 13 years of age after the 4th unexcused absence.  Students who accumulate four unexcused absences will participate with his or her academic team and parents in developing a Truancy Elimination Plan.  

Partial days of absence are considered full-days of absence under Pennsylvania school regulations requiring parental or medical excused absence forms be submitted.  Failure to complete daily lessons, failure to make progress in a course, and/or course grades below 60% are often a result of unexcused partial days of absence resulting in the development of a Truancy Elimination Plan.  

Excused Absences

Parents are responsible for providing PDLCS with written verification of the reason for each absence within (3) days of such absence. Legal excused absences constitute valid excuses for absence of a student from PDLCS, provided satisfactory evidence or documentation is submitted to PDLCS Administration within 3 days of such absence. This includes absence of partial days. A maximum of ten days of cumulative lawful absences verified by parental notification may be permitted during a school year. All absences beyond ten cumulative days should require an excuse from a physician. Legal excused absences include, without limitation, the following:

§ Observance of a Religious Holiday.  An absence may be considered excused if the tenets of a bona fide religion, to which a student or his/her parent adhere, require observance of a religious event.   (22 PA. CODE  § 11.21) The parent must submit written request for the excusal prior to the absence.

§ Tutorial Work.  An absence may be excused for the purpose of the student receiving tutorial instruction in a field not offered by PDLCS only if (i) the excusal does not interfere with the student's regular program of studies, and (ii) the qualifications of the instructor are approved by PDLCS Administration. (22 PA. CODE. § 11.22)

§ Medical or Dental Appointments.     An absence resulting from a medical (health care or therapy) or dental appointment, if: (i) such appointment cannot be scheduled outside of regularly scheduled academic calendar days, (ii) the health or therapeutic services are to be rendered by Commonwealth of Pennsylvania licensed practitioners, or (iii) the time of necessary absence from PDLCS involves a minimum of interference with the student's regular program of studies.  Notice should be given to the teacher and/or Academic Advisor prior to the absence, except in the case of an emergency. (22 PA. CODE § 11.23)

§ Illness or Injury. An absence resulting from illness or injury, which prevents the student from being physically able to attend PDLCS. Any student missing more than three (3) consecutive school days requires a note from a physician. (22 PA. CODE § 11.25)

§ Urgent Reasons.  An absence resulting from an urgent reason may be excused.  PDLCS shall strictly construe the term "urgent reason" as it applies to such absences and such excuse does not permit irregular attendance.  (22 PA. CODE § 11.25)

§ Educational Opportunities or Family Educational Trips.  An absence may be excused when it is demonstrated that the purpose of the absence is to take advantage of a valid educational opportunity (including classes for religious instruction totaling not more than 36 hours per academic school year) pursuant to 22 PA. CODE § 11.21), if (i) the student's parent submits written request for the excusal prior to the tour or trip, (ii) approval for such an absence is granted prior to the absence in accordance with the Student Educational Leave of Absence Policy, and (iii) there is an adult who is directing and supervising the student during the tour or trip who is acceptable to both the parents and PDLCS. (22 PA. CODE § 11.26)

§ Death in the Immediate Family. An absence resulting from the death of a member of the student's immediate family. The immediate family of a student includes, but is not necessarily limited to, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.

§ Court or Administrative Proceedings. An absence resulting from the attendance of a student at the proceedings of a court or an administrative tribunal if the student is a party to the action or under subpoena as a witness.

In the event that a medical excuse cannot be provided, the Parent may submit an Excused Absence Form to PDLCS Administration, requesting approval of the absence. Absences resulting in three (3) or more consecutive days require a medical excuse and Excused Absence Forms are not applicable. Students may only accumulate a maximum of twenty (20) excused absences per academic school year, or ten (10) excused absences per academic semester. This includes partial days. A maximum of ten days of cumulative lawful absences verified by parental notification may be permitted during a school year. All absences beyond ten cumulative days require an excuse from a physician.

Excused Absences and Making up Schoolwork

Students whose absences are excused are required to make up all assignments missed or to complete alternative assignments as deemed appropriate by PDLCS. Work missed because of absence must be made up within the timeline set forth by the course teacher. Any work not completed within this period shall result in no credit for the missed assignment. In the case of an extended illness or other extenuating circumstances, the parent must contact PDLCS Administration.

Unexcused/Illegal Absences

Any day that the student has not logged into PDLCS that is not determined to be legal or excused will be considered as an unexcused/illegal absence. The following reasons for absences are illegal and unexcused in accordance with the Pennsylvania State Attendance Laws:

1. Truancy

2. Lack of transportation

3. Trips not approved in advance

4. Shopping

5. Birthday or other celebration

6. Hunting, fishing, attending ball games or sporting events

7. Gainful employment

8. Sleeping in

9. Any other reason not listed in the Excused Absences section above

10. Babysitting

Attendance Notification

1. All Absences – reported to parents using an automated phone reporting system

2. Excused Absence Form – parents submit an Excused Absence Form or Medical Excuse within 3 days

3. Unexcused Absence – when no Excused Absence Form or Medical Excuse Form is received after 3 days

a. 1st Unexcused Absence – reported to parents via the school email system

b. 2nd Unexcused Absence – reported to parents via the school email system and by telephone

c. 3rd Unexcused Absence – 3-day truancy letter sent to the parent and home school district

d. 4th Unexcused Absence – Truancy Elimination Plan (TEP) is developed, the TEP is mailed to the home school district and Children and Youth Services notified for students under the age of thirteen

e. 5th – 9th Unexcused Absence after the TEP is in place – documented on the TEP, reported to the parents via the school email system and telephone

f. 10th Unexcused Absence after the TEP is in place – A letter is mailed to the parent and home school district stating the student will be dropped from the active membership of PDLCS and must report to home school district. 

4. Truancy Elimination Plans (TEP)  will be written for students 1) with more than twenty days of absence in school, 2) who chronically fail to complete daily lessons, 3) who fail to make progress in a course, and/or 4) with course grades below 60%.  Parents and home school districts will be provided the TEP outlining the requirements for the student to attend a daily live check-in session for 10 consecutive days and completion of all required coursework for 10 consecutive days.      

Failure to comply with Truancy Elimination Plans for ten consecutive days may result in truancy violations that may lead to the removal of the student from active membership at PDLCS.

 

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