JH: Student Absences and Excuses

  • Attendance

    The Falmouth School Committee believes that successful achievement of its mission relies on punctual daily attendance. The Committee sees a correlation between attendance and achievement and finds that daily attendance is a function of school, student, and family factors.

    Student Absence Notification

    Parents and guardians are responsible for reporting a student’s absence. If the absence is not reported, the school will notify the student’s parents/guardians. In addition to successful achievement, Falmouth Public Schools also prioritizes student safety.

    Students may be excused from school attendance with proper documentation for the following reasons:

    1. Personal illness. In order for the absence to be excused, a health care professional’s note is required. When excused absences exceed the number allowed by state law, the school nurse and/or school physician may then contact the treating physician to discuss ways to accommodate the student’s health needs in relation to academic expectations. In instances of chronic or frequent episodic absence reportedly due to illness, the school administrator or school nurse may request a health care provider’s statement certifying such absences to be justified and
    2. Observance of a religious holiday. Any student of any religion shall be excused if the absence is for the purpose of observing a religious holiday. A parent/guardian note is required to excuse this
    3. Suspension from school. Any absences as a result of school suspension shall be Students have the right to make up work missed consistent with the district’s work makeup policy.
    4. Court or legal obligations. A note from the court or legal authority shall accompany a student’s return to
    5. Weather: Weather so inclement as to endanger the health of the child.

    In addition, principals, at their discretion, may excuse cases of necessary absence for other causes, not exceeding seven day sessions or fourteen (14) half day sessions in any period of six (4) months.

    Any absence not in accordance with the criteria above will be considered unexcused. The Falmouth Public Schools will report all absences to the state in accordance with state regulations.

    A student's understanding of the importance of day-to-day schoolwork is an important factor in the shaping of his character. Parents/guardians can help their children by not allowing them to miss school needlessly.

    Nurse Dismissals

    If the school nurse recommends after a dismissal from school that the student not return the next day(s), the absence(s) shall be excused. If a student has an immunization exemption and the student must be quarantined from school per DPH guidelines, that absence shall be excused.


    All schools, at the midterm of their grading period, shall send letters home to parents/guardians of students who accumulate excessive absences.

    Student Absence Notification Program

    Each Principal, by whatever title they may be known, will notify a student’s parent/guardian within three (3) days of the student’s absence in the event the parent/guardian has not informed the school of the absence.

    Each Principal, by whatever title they may be known, or designee shall make a reasonable effort to meet with any student, and that student’s parent/guardian, who has missed five (5) or more unexcused school days (a school day shall be equal to two (2) or more class periods in the same day) in a school year. The meeting shall be to develop action steps to improve student attendance and shall be developed jointly by the Principal or designee, the student, and the student’s parent/guardian. The parties may seek input from other relevant school staff and/or officials from relevant public safety, health and human service, housing, and nonprofit agencies.

    Dropout Prevention

    No student who has not graduated from high school shall be considered permanently removed from school unless the Principal has sent notice to a student, and that student’s parent/guardian, who has been absent from school for ten (10) consecutive days of unexcused absence. The notice shall be sent within five (5) days of the tenth consecutive day of absence and shall offer at least 2 dates and times within the next ten (10) days for an exit interview with the Superintendent or designee, the student, and the student’s parent/guardian. The notice shall be in both English and the primary language of the home, if applicable. The notice shall include contact information for scheduling the exit interview and shall indicate the parties shall reach an agreement on the date/time of the interview within the ten (10) day timeframe. The timeframe may be extended at the request of the parent/guardian and no extension shall exceed fourteen (14) days.

    The Superintendent or designee may proceed with any interview without a parent/guardian present, provided the Superintendent has documented a good faith effort to include the parent/guardian. 

    The Superintendent or designee shall convene a team of school staff to participate in the exit interview and shall provide information to the student and, if applicable, the student’s parent/guardian on the detrimental effects of early withdrawal from school and the alternative education programs and services available to the student.


    LEGAL REFS.:  M.G.L. 76:1; 76:1B; 76:16; 76:18; 76:20

Last Modified on July 13, 2020