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:
- Excused for Religious Observance or Take Your Child to Work Day
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.
Acknowledged Absences (Not Counted Toward Truancy)
Unexcused Absences (Counted Toward Truancy)
Not counted as absent
There are only three occasions for an excused absence: approved religious observances, Take Your Child to Work Day and College Visits (not to exceed 3 days per school year, for students in grades 11 and 12). 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 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 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.
- 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.
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.
School Absence Hotlines
Clarendon 201-974-2010, Option 1
Huber Street 201-974-2053, Option 3, then Option 1
Millridge School 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.
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
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
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: