Handbook » Student Handbook - Attendance Laws, Policies and Procedures

Student Handbook - Attendance Laws, Policies and Procedures



Student Handbook


Attendance Laws, Policies and Procedures

Regular attendance and punctuality are absolute necessities in attaining academic success. The entire process of education requires a regular continuity of instruction, classroom participation, learning experiences, and study to reach the goal of maximum educational benefits for each child. Regular contact of students with one another in the classroom and participation in well-planned instructional activities under the instruction of a competent teacher are vital to this purpose.
The importance of punctuality is also essential to a child’s development of responsibility. Tardiness produces disruption to the educational process and is a very poor habit to develop. We ask that parents help instill this value in their child by helping him/her to be present and punctual for school. Please note that all students are expected to be in their first block class no later than 7:30 am. The morning traffic can be quite congested; kindly plan for an extra 15 minutes to avoid this potential delay.
Massachusetts School Attendance Laws
Every child between the ages of 6 and 16 is required by law to attend school. In accordance with M.G.L. c. 76, § 5, every child shall have a right to attend the public schools of the town where the student actually resides. Conversely, no school committee is required to enroll a person who does not actually reside in the town unless said enrollment is authorized by law or by the school committee. Any person who violates or assists in the violation of this provision may be required to remit full restitution to the town of the improperly-attended public schools. 
No person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges, and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, homelessness, age, disability, military/veteran status, and any other class or characteristic protected by law.
Oakmont Attendance Policies
While parents have some choice in their children’s school attendance, the law requires that students under the age of sixteen are in school unless there is a valid, excusable reason. At Oakmont, students 16 years of age or older are also expected to conform to the same rules of attendance and must conduct themselves accordingly. 
We understand that situations may arise that are not technically excusable but are deemed worthy by parents. Opportunities to further faith, family, and future can present themselves during school time (ex: a faraway family reunion, a church mission, an audition for a professional production). We trust that parents use proper discretion when allowing students to miss school for these reasons. Students are expected to arrange for work ahead of time and/or makeup work in a timely manner as they would for excused absences. 
However, in the spirit of the law, we cannot condone flagrant truancy or habitual absences. Unexcused tardiness, dismissal, or absence found to be outside the family, faith, or future opportunities will not be allowed and students may not be permitted to make up missed work. Parents may also be held accountable for the laws regarding truancy. The state’s attendance reporting regulations do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences for state reporting. The total number of absences will be reported for each student.
Excused Absences, Tardies, and Dismissals
Students may be excused temporarily from school attendance for the following reasons: 
    • Death in the family (parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin) - up to 5 days may be excused. Documentation may come in the form of a parent/guardian note and/or copy of the obituary.
    • Health Professional appointment. Documentation must be a note from a physician, dentist, therapist, etc stating the name of the student and the date of the appointment.
    • School-sponsored activities: field trips. Documentation will be provided by teachers.
    • College Visits that are preapproved by Guidance, Administration, and Parents. Juniors are allowed no more than two (2) excused absences for college visits. Seniors are also allowed no more than three (3) excused absences for college visits. Students must submit documentation that is outlined in the senior info sheet.
Other Attendance Regulations
    • College Visits which are preapproved by Guidance, Administration, and parents are allowed no more than two (2) excused absences for college visits in the junior year. Seniors are allowed 3 (three) excused absences for college visits.
    • Major religious observances. Documentation can be in the form of a parent/guardian note.
    • Legal/Court appointments- Documentation must be a note from the Court.
    • School Nurse Excusal or Dismissal.
    • Absences from class due to school suspensions will not be counted as an absence from class.
Unexcused Absences, Tardies, and Dismissals
    • Absences that occur as a result of a family vacation or trip during the school year are not excused. Parents of students taking such trips are required to notify the administration in writing at least two weeks prior to departure. If the main office is not notified of the student’s absence, he or she will be considered truant. Students and parents are responsible for communicating with teachers regarding make-up work at least two weeks in advance and arranging tests or project makeup at their teacher’s convenience. Students are responsible to complete all academic work missed during the vacation within 10 school days of return to school.
    • Mild, temporary illnesses may necessitate that your child stays home from school. We recognize that some illnesses do not require the attention of a medical professional. While these absences are technically unexcused, we recognize that absences of this type are needed. For this reason, every student is granted 9 unexcused absences before any consequences are issued. 
    • In the case of tardies and dismissals, any student who is not in attendance for more than one-half (1/2) of the class period will be considered absent for that period.
    • Four (4) tardies to class will equal an absence. Tardy to school will count as tardy to class. 
    • Notes from parents do not eliminate or excuse absences, tardies, or dismissals; they indicate parent awareness of them. The notes are important documentation should the loss of course credit appeal process be necessary. A student is required to submit an absence note to the main office on the day of their return.

Notification of Student Absence
The Oakmont Voicemail program is available 24 hours a day. To report student absence dial 978 827-5907 and press 1. Parents should call the school the evening before or in the morning to report their child’s absence. You can also report an absence via an email to [email protected]. Parents will be contacted if an absence call or email is not received. Students who are absent without a parental excusal will be reported as truant to the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education. Please note – parent notification does not make a student’s absence “excused.” Sending an absence notification via email is not guaranteed to be seen before calls go home, so please call the number above to report an absence. 

Notification of Student Dismissal
If it is necessary for a student to be dismissed from class prior to the end of the school day, one of the following must occur: 
    • The student must submit a note signed by the parent/guardian directly to the Main Office before the start of school. 
    • A parent can send an email to [email protected] requesting the dismissal. 
    • The school nurse may dismiss students for illness without an absence penalty. The school nurse will contact parents prior to the dismissal. 
The safety and security of your child are our top priority. It is extremely difficult to verify identities over the phone. For this reason, phone dismissals are rarely accepted and require administrative permission.
Consequences of Unexcused Absences, Tardies, and Dismissals
  • Any student absent more than 10% of the time from a semester class will receive no credit for the course unless documentation is provided showing that the absences should be considered excused. This means that students who have more than 9 unexcused absences in a full semester course will not earn credit for the course. Likewise, students who have more than 5 unexcused absences in an every other day course will not earn credit for the course. Seniors are allowed no more than seven (7) unexcused absences in a full semester course and four (4) for an every other day course during the second semester of senior year.
  • For students who transfer during the semester the maximum absence limit will be ten (10) percent of the remaining days of the semester.
  • In the case where a student loses credit for a course, the course grade earned will be put on the student’s transcript but no credit will be listed.
  • In the case where a student receives a passing grade but no credit for a required course (e.g. U.S. History), as a consequence of excessive absences, the graduation requirement will be considered fulfilled. The student may have to repeat this course or pass some other course in order to achieve the minimum credits required for graduation from Oakmont.
  • If students change their classes during the semester, the total accumulation of absences will be carried over into the new class.
  • Any student not present for one half (1/2) of the school day (2 complete blocks) is ineligible for any athletic or co-curricular activities that day. This includes attendance as a spectator at sports or co-curricular events after school hours.
  • A student is tardy to school if a student is not present in their assigned class when the 7:30 A.M. tardy bell rings. Students are expected to report immediately to the main office when they arrive at school tardy and complete the necessary tardy procedures for signing into school.
  • Parking privileges may be revoked or suspended for excessive absences, tardiness, or dismissals.
Appeal Procedure
Students with extenuating circumstances may appeal the credit loss to an Attendance Review Board comprised of an administrator, school counselor, and a faculty member. Students and parents/guardians should file an appeal for waiver of absences with the assistant principal within ten (10) days of notification of loss of credit; the appeal should contain an explanation of the extenuating circumstances and/or documentation that would excuse the absences. The Review Board will be permitted to waive or modify the attendance policy where, in their judgment, reasonable grounds for the absences exist. The appeal decision of the committee will be presented to the principal for final approval. Final decisions approved by the Principal may be appealed to the Superintendent. 
Making up Missed Work
Students are expected to make up all work missed when they are absent from school or not present in class. Students and/or parents must communicate with teachers to receive assignments and arrange for the submission of assignments. Previously assigned long-range reports or projects are due on the established due date. 
Any student who is absent from school without parental acknowledgment will be considered truant. Students who are truant may face the following consequences: 
    • Administrative contact with parent or guardian.
    • Student will receive a zero for all classroom work missed, including tests/quizzes, projects etc.
    • In-school counseling may be recommended.
    • Truant officers may be notified to investigate an absence.
    • A truancy complaint may be filed in juvenile court.
    • Refer to Disciplinary Offense Code (p. 41) for possible consequences.
    • Repeated truancy for students under sixteen years of age will result in filing a Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) petition in juvenile court.
Withdrawal From School
Any student 16 years or older who seeks to withdraw from school prior to graduation must
    • Obtain a written note from a parent or guardian to explain the withdrawal.
    • Discuss the withdrawal with the student’s school counselor.
    • Obtain a withdrawal form from the school counseling office.
    • Return all school property to each of their teachers and have each teacher sign the withdrawal form.
    • Have the withdrawal form signed by an administrator
    • Return the withdrawal form, signed by all of the teachers and administration to the school counseling office, No records will be forwarded from Oakmont unless all materials have been returned.