Secaucus Public School District

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Attendance Areas

The Secaucus Public School District (SPSD) and its teachers and administrators cannot successfully fulfill their legal responsibilities to provide students a thorough and efficient education unless students are present for all regularly scheduled classroom activities. The SPSD realizes that there are times when absences are unavoidable. However, it is essential that all families understand and accept the necessity for students to attend school every day school is in session.

What is an absence?
The State of New Jersey Administrative Code, (N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3) outlines what defines student absence and presence. Schools may only report student absence or presence with one of three codes:
An absence is when students are not present and engaged in scheduled, board-sanctioned, educational activities in the building or at an approved external site with the teacher or teachers to which they are enrolled. Every other reason is considered an absence. Students must be in the building or in an approved external activity for four hours to be considered present.

Different Types of Absences
For NJDoE reporting purposes, students must only be marked Present, Absent or Excused for Religious Observance. In Secaucus, we go one step further and keep account of why students are absent (see table and definitions below). We recognize all NJDoE approved religious holidays as excused. We also maintain specific absence codes to keep track of why students are absent.

Table 1,  Absence Types

 

Excused Absences Not Counted as Absences Acknowledged Absences
(Not Counted Toward Truancy) Unexcused Absences
(Counted Toward Truancy) Not counted as absences

Approved Religious Observances Absent Acknowledged Truant Full Day Bedside Instruction

Take Your Child to Work Day Medical Truant Partial Day, i.e., "cutting class" or "cutting school" External Instruction

College Visits (limit 3 per year for 11th and 12th graders only) Sent Home by Nurse   Field trips

  Personal/Family   In-school Suspension

  Driving Test (high school students only)   Out-of-School Suspension

Absence Definitions

Excused Absences
There are only three occasions for an excused absence: approved religious observances, Take Your Child to Work Day and College Visits (see Table 1 above). These days do not count as absences for the observer. Approved religious observances, as with all acknowledged absences, require communication with the school prior to the holiday (e.g., a call to the school indicating the absence and reason) and a written note from the parent afterward.
Acknowledged Absences (An unexcused absence not counted toward truancy)
Acknowledged absences are when students are not present, but not absent for a reason excused by the NJDoE. They are counted as an absence, but not counted toward truancy. Please note that excessive acknowledged absences can have academic as well as disciplinary implications. These reasons are internally managed by the district.
  • Student illness supported by written and signed letter from parent/guardian/custodial adult (henceforth parent) upon return
  • Student court appearance
  • When IEP appropriate
  • Student suspension (in school or out of school)
  • Family illness or death supported by a written and signed letter from parent upon return
  • Interviews with prospective employers or with admissions officers of institutions of higher education
  • Driver’s license exam (high school only)
  • Necessary and unavoidable medical or dental appointments that cannot be scheduled for any other time
  • An absence not listed above, deemed unexcused, but does not count toward truancy by the principal upon written request by the parent stating the reason for the absence and requesting permission  for the absence to be an unexcused, but does not count toward truancy
Unexcused Absences
Unexcused absence (i.e., an unexcused absence that counts toward truancy) is when a student is absent from the school building school or a period without permission. This can also mean that the student or parent knowingly or unknowingly disregards compulsory education laws.
  • Truant – Full Day: Student is not in school and has not been acknowledged as absent by the parent.
  • Truant – Partial Day: Student has “cut” class, lunch or other school-related activity during the day.
Not Counted as Absences
  • Bedside Instruction: For extended, documented, and medically necessary absences and upon approval, students will be assigned in-home tutors. These days are not considered absences.
  • External Instruction: For high school students only. Upon prior approval of the principal, students may engage in instruction at other institutions (e.g., instruction at colleges and universities, student exchanges, etc.)
  • Field Trips: Field trips are content relevant, principal- and school board-approved extensions of the school day to alternate learning locations and are not considered absences.
  • In-School and Out-of-School Suspensions: Suspensions are disciplinary consequences for various rule infractions, but are not counted as absences.
Reporting an Absence
When a student is going to be absent, the parent, will contact the school’s main office*. Notification is required no later than 30 minutes after the start of the school day. Students being reported later than 30 minutes will be recorded truant until the reason for the absence is determined.

Table 2, School Absence Hotlines

 

School Number

Clarendon 201-974-2010, Option 1

Huber Street
      ---------
Early Learning Center 201-974-2053, Option 3, then Option 1
         --------------------------------------
201-974-2053, Option 1, then Option 1
 

Middle School 201-974-2025, Option 3, then Option 1

High School 201-974-2033, Option 1, , then Option 1

 

*Except for absences that require prior approval (See definitions above).

After the Call
If the student is not reported absent by the parent, the school will call home via our automatic calling service. If you answer, then the absence is acknowledged in our system. If you do not answer, the student is listed as truant and Residency and Truancy Officer (RTO) will be dispatched to your home to ensure the child’s safety and to determine the cause of the absence. The RTO will introduce himself and show official SPSD identification.

Extended Trips When School Is in Session
Every day a student is absent from school represents lost educational opportunities. The SPSD strongly discourages students going on extended trips while school is in session. We understand that there are extenuating circumstances that might warrant travel during the school year. If this does arise, parents must notify their school’s principal of their intention to travel in writing before booking any extended travel plans when school is in session. Unless they coincide with approved religious observances, absences accrued during trips while school is in session regardless of duration or nature will be considered absences. Students will be responsible for and will be given reasonable accommodations to make up work missed during the trip. Furthermore, if the student travel causes the student to meet or exceed an absence threshold, the student and parents will be held accountable for consequential action (see Discipline Schedule below)
 
N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.6 outlines consequential action related to absences.

Table 3, Discipline Schedule

With Each Absence School will contact home to acknowledge absence

  • Student denied participation to all extra- or co-curricular activities (except for religious observances)

Up to 4 Absences Monitoring by school office staff.

  • Identify patterns of absences; if pattern exists, consult with parent to formulate absence reduction plan

At the 5th Absence Letter to parent

  • Parent meeting with school staff (principal or designee),

  • Re-evaluate absence reduction plan; consider any or all of the following:

    • Referral to I&RS committee

    • Conduct testing

    • Consider alternate placement

    • Referral with community resources

    • Proceed with missing/abducted child procedures, when deemed necessary

    • Cooperate with law enforcement when necessary

At the 10th Absence Same as above

  • Refer case to municipal court, when deemed necessary

  • Secondary students will be considered for loss of credit for semester courses

At the 15th Absences Same as above

At the 18th Absence (10% Rule) Same as above,

  • State threshold for elementary and secondary student to be retained in grade or lose course credit

 

Parents are encouraged to monitor their child’s attendance patterns and work with the school for the child’s benefit through the Realtime Parent Portal or through your student’s guidance counselor.
 
Absence Appeals Process
Unforeseen factors may cause excessive absence. It is recommended that parents proactively communicate with the school administration in regards to absenteeism. In the event of receiving excessive absence notification indicating no credit status or retention, a parent can petition the school principal within five days of receipt of the letter. A school Attendance Review Committee will convene to review the case. The Attendance Review Committee will decide the case and report its findings within seven school days of the meeting.

A decision may be appealed to the Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education within the established guidelines.
 
For More Information
Contact your school's main office or see the following documents: