Regular school attendance is an essential part of a student's learning process and a necessary means of graduating with a good education. Students who are frequently absent may be putting their futures in jeopardy by falling behind in academics and missing important socialization concepts that enhance their ability to understand and follow directions. Chronic absenteeism, especially truancy, is a behavior that is highly associated with dropping out of school. The school board believes that attendance is a key factor in student achievement. Any absences from school represent an educational loss to the student. However, the school board recognizes that some absences are unavoidable.
The attendance staff works closely with students, parents, school personnel, and the community to remove barriers that affect student attendance in school.
South Carolina Compulsory School Attendance Law
All parents or guardians shall cause their children or wards who are in the age group of five to sixteen years, inclusive, to regularly attend a public or private school or kindergarten of this State which has been approved by the State Board of Education or a member school of the South Carolina Independent Schools’ Association or some similar organization, or a parochial, denominational, or church-related school, or other programs which have been approved by the State Board of Education; provided, further, that any parent or guardian which child or ward is not six years of age on or before the first day of September of a particular school year may elect for their child or ward not to attend kindergarten. For this purpose, the parent or guardian must sign a written document making such an election with the governing body of the school district wherein the parent or the guardian resides. The form of this written document shall be prescribed by regulation of the Department of Education. Upon such a written election being executed, that child or ward may not be required to attend kindergarten.
School Attendance Guidelines
Any student who misses school must present a written excuse, signed by his or her parent or legal guardian or a health care professional, for all absences within three (3) days of the student’s return to school. The written excuse should include the reason for and the date of the absence. If a student fails to bring a valid written excuse to school, his or her absence will be recorded as unlawful. Schools will use the criteria below when deciding whether an absence is lawful or unlawful.
- Absences caused by a student's illness and whose attendance in school would endanger his or her health or the health of others. These absences must be verified by a physician statement within three (3) days of the student's return to school.
- Absences due to an illness or death in the student's immediate family verified by a statement from the parent within three (3) days of the student's return to school.
- Absences due to a recognized religious holiday of the student's faith when approved in advance. Such requests must be made to the principal in writing. (This does not include religious retreats and/or conferences)
- Absences for students whose parents/guardians are experiencing a military deployment. Specifically absences when the parent or legal guardian of a student is an active duty member of the uniformed services and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, shall be excused as long as such absences are reasonable in duration as deemed by the principal so that the student can visit with his or her parent or legal guardian relative to such leave or deployment of the parent or legal guardian.
Any absences due to activities that are approved in advance by the principal; This would include absences for extreme hardships, such approval should be prearranged when possible.
- Absences of a student without the knowledge of his or her parents
- Absences of a student without acceptable cause with the knowledge of his or her parents.
- Suspension is not to be counted as an unlawful absence for truancy purposes.
- If a student is given alternative punishment but elects OSS instead, the student will be deemed to be unlawfully absent.
Although the state requires students to only attend 170 of the 180-day school year, parents and students should be aware that SC Code of Regulations - Chapter 43-274 stipulates that a child ages 6 to 17 year is considered truant when the child has three consecutive unlawful absences or a total of five unlawful absences. For purposes of this section (truancy and compulsory attendance), a parent may provide up to 10 parent notes excusing a student's illness or an absence related to an immediate family member’s illness or death. However, in order for any subsequent absence related to illness to be lawful a physician statement/medical note is required.
If a student accrues three consecutive unlawful absences or five total unlawful absences within a school year. The student is considered truant. If attendance is not improved, the parent/legal guardian and student may face court intervention and a referral to the department of social services.
When a student meets the definition, by law, the school is required to have a conference with the parent/guardian to complete an intervention plan. The purpose of the intervention plan is to identify reasons for student’s absences and record actions that must be taken by the parent, school, and student to improve student attendance. The Clover School District recognizes that truancy is primarily an educational issue and will take all reasonable, educationally sound and corrective actions prior to resorting to the juvenile justice system.
Punctuality is a critical skill that a person can learn. It is a skill that must be developed early and may be applied to an individual’s success in their future endeavors. Parents should have students at school on time each day. Late arrival, results in interruptions to the learning process and the tardy student misses important instruction. Tardiness is a disciplinary issue; each school has guidelines for consequences for tardiness.
Marguerite Chisholm, District Attendance Officer