The Falmouth School Committee believes that successful achievement of its mission relies heavily on daily attendance. The Committee sees a strong correlation between attendance and achievement and finds that daily attendance is a function of school, student, and family factors. The Falmouth School committee reaffirms its belief in the compulsory attendance law and the responsibility of parents/guardians and students to comply with it.
Regular and timely attendance is necessary for maximum learning success. In accordance with Massachusetts law, students may not be absent from school for seven or more full-day sessions or fourteen half-day sessions within any period of six months.
Falmouth Public Schools makes a sincere attempt to avoid scheduling special school and student events to conflict with religious holidays and will exercise care when scheduling assignments and tests. Students will not suffer consequences from an excused absence for religious observations.
The Falmouth Public Schools recognize that time lost from class is essentially irretrievable in terms of opportunity for instructional interaction. In order for a student to receive a passing grade, the student has an obligation to give, as well as receive, in the context of the classroom setting. It is recognized that attendance is among the requirements for all courses. Regular and timely attendance is necessary for maximum learning success. Parents/guardians and students are asked to take attendance seriously and provide notes explaining any absence responsibly. Valuable staff time is lost investigating absences when a note is not provided.
By improving attendance and encouraging punctuality, the Falmouth Public Schools hopes to achieve the following objectives:
- Improve academic performance.
- Develop an attitude of cooperation and responsibility in the students.
- Place responsibility for attendance and punctuality on the students and their parents/guardians.
- Develop habits of student as worker that are beneficial to life skills and future employment.
If you are absent from school, you may be required to present a written excuse from a physician or the court to your homeroom teacher on the day following your absence stating the reason for your absence. Excused absences may be for any of the following reasons: death in family; religious holidays; authorized school sponsored activities; illness – as stated, a physician’s note may be required to verify that the physician saw the student in the physician’s office on the day(s) absent from school or specify the dates the student needed to remain at home for a medical issue; court appearances – as stated, a note from the court may be required to verify the date(s) of the student’s court appearance; and other reasons as deemed reasonable and appropriate by the Principal. Parent/guardian notes may be considered, and thus, we ask that you always send a note in to school when your child has been absent from school.
All schools, at the midterm of their grading period, shall send letters home to parents of students who exceed certain attendance benchmarks. These letters shall notify the parents of their child’s attendance, the relevant state laws regarding attendance, and school averages. They shall also invite the parents to meet with guidance and/or school administration to discuss the student’s attendance, and make a plan to improve it. The dates and benchmarks are as follows:
Lawrence and Falmouth High School
October 15- 5 absences
December 15 - 10 absences
March 15 - 15 absences
May 15 - 15 absences (who were not in the March meeting)
Principals will have discretion based on specific circumstances to waive midterm meetings.
Extra Help and Make-Up Work
Upon returning to school after a period of absences, a student has a length of time equal to the number of school days absent to make up missed work. A student not making up the work in the allotted time will receive a failing mark for the work not made up. Previously announced assignments/tests must be completed upon return. The responsibility is on the student to meet with the teacher to determine when the assignment/test is to be made up.
If any extenuating circumstances exist, the parent/guardian should contact the assistant principal or the guidance counselor. The assistant principal and/or guidance counselor will consult with teacher, department head, the assistant principal, and principal when necessary.
The District discourages students from leaving school for travel because our time with students is so valuable and school vacations are well placed at intervals. Make up work is only a small part of the learning missed. Our experience is that providing assignments to be done during vacation is not productive. Vacations are considered unexcused absences. Therefore, we do not require teachers to design this work in advance for supporting family vacations. We expect students to be present for state MCAS testing.
If a student is going to be absent as a result of travel, the parent or guardian should notify the assistant principal’s office and the guidance counselor one week in advance. Students will be expected to make up missed assignments and classroom work within the reasonable amount of time laid out at the beginning of this make up work expectations.
Absence Notes Procedures
Absent notes are crucial to the attendance policy and credit for a course. When a student is absent, it is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to write a note within five days after the student returns to school. The student must then submit the note to the first period teacher explaining the absence. Notes brought in after this time will not be processed but instead placed in the student’s file. If the student loses course credit and appeals, these notes may be presented to the appeals board for consideration. Since notes are so important, they must include the following information:
- Student’s full name
- Date(s) of and reason for absence
- Signature of parent/guardian
- Parent/guardian home and cell phone numbers
- Cuts – Absence from class when officially present in school or entering the class after the half-way point without authorization. Students cutting class will not be allowed to make up work.
- Tardy to class – Entering class after the bell without a pass. Every three tardies to a class results in a teacher detention.
- Tardy to school – Students are tardy to school when arriving after 7:22 a.m. Students arriving after 7:45 a.m. must check in with the Assistant Principals’ Office before attending any class. Every four tardies to school in a quarter will result in an administrative detention. Excessive tardiness and/or failure to stay for detention may result in loss of parking privileges. Decisions regarding loss of parking privileges are within the sole discretion of the administration.
- Car problems and oversleeping – These events are not considered legitimate reasons for being late to school, unless as a result of power outages. Once students decide to drive themselves or travel with other students, rather than take the bus or walk (if within limits), they must assume responsibility for any transportation problems.
Reminder: Tardies to school, i.e., first period, are also addressed in the disciplinary policy as infractions. Every four tardies in a quarter will result in an administrative detention.
Tardy and Dismissal Procedure
Dismissals and tardies to school will require written documentation as outlined in this section in order to qualify as an exemption. Otherwise, the class absence(s) count toward loss of credit.
Before leaving school for any reason, a student must:
- Have written permission from their parents/guardians.
- Submit the dismissal note to their first period teacher. Notes received after 8:00 a.m. will not be processed without an Assistant Principal’s approval.
- Include in the dismissal note, student’s name, reason for dismissal and telephone number where parents can be contacted for confirmation.
- Pick up dismissal note at the Assistant Principals’ Office between classes.
- In case of an emergency, have a parent or guardian come into the Assistant Principals’ Office to dismiss student.
After the fact excuses and/or dismissal notes will not be accepted. Students not properly dismissed will receive detentions and cuts for classes missed. Students will only be dismissed to parents/guardians.
Early Dismissals from Nurse
If a student is not feeling well, he/she will report to the school nurse. The nurse, if necessary, will contact the parents or guardians, who must come into the nurse’s office to dismiss the student. When necessary, the nurse will contact an Assistant Principal regarding emancipated student dismissal.
Rights of 18 Year Olds
The school administration recognizes the rights of 18 year old students. Specifically as it refers to the writing of absence, tardy, or dismissal notes, the school requires a letter from the parent/guardian giving the student permission to write their own notes. This letter will be reviewed by the Principal/Assistant Principal. The administration also recognizes the need and obligation to continue to keep parents/guardians informed relative to the student’s academic progress, disciplinary status, and general whereabouts.
The status of emancipation is as follows:
- The student must be 18 years old.
- Prior to first period, the emancipated student must give his/her dismissal note to the Principal/Assistant Principal who will determine authorization. (See “Dismissals”)
- The Principal/Assistant Principal has the right to notify the parent or guardian regarding dismissals.
- The Principal/Assistant Principal may revoke this privilege if misused.
Attendance Credit Appeal Procedure
When a student receives a notification that he/she has lost credit due to non-exempt absences, cuts and class tardies, the student must use the following procedure to qualify for an appeals hearing:
- Check and clear any errors through teacher and Assistant Principals’ Office.
- The student will be given an appointment for a credit appeal meeting with an Assistant Principal. Information regarding the credit appeal process will be provided to the student in advance of the meeting.
- The student must continue to attend class regularly and remain academically active during the appeal procedures.
- The appeals request will be ruled upon.
- Appeals will be heard near the end of the semester for semester courses and at the end of the year for year-long courses. (Guidelines provided upon notification.)
- The documentation of non-exempt absences, cuts and tardies to class will be reviewed.
- Before requesting a reconsideration of the appeal result by the Principal, students must have presented their case to the Assistant Principal. This request must then be submitted in writing to the Principal within 5 days of the appeals notification.
- Students must realize that once the potential for credit has been restored through the appeals process any further unauthorized absences, cuts or tardies for that class will cause the decision to be reversed without further appeal.