Parents returning their children to the Hamilton and Cottonwood schools received a notice regarding changes in the attendance policies for the Hemet Unified School District schools.
An informational flyer said, “Education Code Section 48260 defines a truant as a pupil who has missed more than 30 minutes on three days without a valid excuse in one school year. Our goal is to have all children present in school every day and on time. Our district’s policy is that we may require verification of absences due to illness or quarantine, if your child has missed school for three consecutive days. Please be aware that “going out of town” when school is in session with your child is an unexcused absence.”
It went on to add, “Additionally, there is a new attendance law this 2017-2018 school year that requires the school district to record any student who is more than 30 minutes late to school as being absent/truant to that class. Furthermore, if a student leaves school more than 30 minutes before the end of the school day, even if checked out by the parent, that student will be recorded as absent from their last period class.”
This sounds pretty harsh, according to several Hamilton parents. But the laws are developed by the California State Legislature and upheld in every corner of the state. This is not just district policy, it is statewide. This is because it is compulsory for minors to be in school.
Student attendance is extremely important for their success and is the basis for a majority of the revenues received by school districts and dispersed to the various schools within their boundaries.
“If they’re 30 minutes late, they’ve missed almost the entire period,” said Jill Holt, a teacher with Palm Springs Unified School District. “They’ve missed critical instruction and they’re disrupting the class by entering late. They need to be a little more considerate of their classmates and concerned about their own education. Most kids are on time, or are a little late and not constantly. Those 30 minutes or more, late are generally habitual.”
Also, under Assembly Bill 2815, which became law Jan. 1, the role of attendance supervisors has been expanded to include more effective practices to address chronic absenteeism and truancy. Their duties were expanded to include raising awareness in the community, schools and with parents, guardians and caregivers of the effects of chronic poor attendance, and identify tardiness or truancy trends among certain students and determine contributing factors (including suspension and expulsion). They also act to ensure that students with attendance issues are discovered as early as possible, and to implement effective strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism and truancy.
Hemet Unified School District offers several incentive programs to promote improved student attendance.
Saturday School is an option. Students can make up absences by attending a Saturday School session.
There are Attendance Incentive Programs where Schools can earn monetary awards for improved pupil attendance. Awards can be used for instructional purposes (like purchasing educational materials) or to provide rewards for good attendance to the students directly.
Insurance company Horace Mann Insurance sponsors the Perfect Attendance Spells Success (PASS) program, which provides schools with rewarding prizes such as bicycles and iPods. Horace Mann agents help teachers and administrators across the country to motivate schoolchildren to reach their full potential through the PASS programs they sponsor.
These strategies have been very successful in stemming the tide of chronic absenteeism and truancy. The goal is to help promote good attendance the therefore the quality of the education that the pupils receive.
For more information regarding the attendance policies for HUSD, visit www.hemetusd.org or call (951) 765-5100.