Attendance Policy

AHS Attendance / Late Arrival / Early Dismissal Procedures

STUDENT ABSENCES

When a student is absent, the parent/guardian must report the absence to the school by calling the attendance line    (410) 313-7073, or e-mailing ahsabsence@hcpss.org.  The message should include the student’s first and last name, grade, date of absence and reason for the absence.

Upon returning to school after an absence, the student must bring a written note signed by a parent/guardian citing the date(s) of the absence and an explanation why the student could not attend school. The student must take the note to his/her first period teacher. Upon receipt of the note, the attendance record in Synergy will be updated to reflect the excused absence.  

A student has two days from the date of the absence to bring in a note. If the note is received after the two-day grace period, the absence will remain unexcused. If a note is not received, the absence will be documented as Truant (unexcused). Please see the Secondary Student Handbook for more information.

Please note, many teachers post assignments online (Canvas) so students can often view and access class work or homework even when they are not on campus.  For an extended absence (minimum of two missed school days), make up work can be requested through the Guidance Office (410) 313-7068.  Requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance of work being claimed in the Guidance Office (this turnaround time is required to notify the teachers and give them time to prepare the required materials).

EARLY DISMISSAL

If a student needs to leave school early, the student must bring a written note signed by a parent/guardian citing:

  1. the first and last name of the student
  2. the DATE AND TIME of the early dismissal
  3. an explanation why the student will be dismissed early and
  4. the name of the person who will be coming to pick up the student (or if the student will drive him or herself)

*A note is required even if a student will return to school (i.e. a doctor’s appointment during the school day). 

The note should be delivered to the Attendance Secretary, Mrs. Sauers, in the Front Office before the start of first period. 

A pass will be printed during first period and the student can pick up their pass in the Front Office any time after first period (during breaks between classes or during lunch depending on their scheduled dismissal time).  

The student will show their pass to their teacher at the time of dismissal and the student will be allowed to leave class at that time.  They can wait in front of the school, in the main lobby or the Front Office or leave if they are driving themselves.   If the student brought a note into the Front Office, there is no need for a parent/guardian to come into the Front Office to sign out the student.

If the student is returning to school, the student should check in at the Front Office upon their return to sign in their return time.  The student will need the pass that they received before they left school – it will be signed with the return time. This pass is required to regain entry into the classroom.  If the student does not check in at the Front Office, they will remain absent in Synergy for the duration of the school day.  A parent/guardian does NOT have to come in to the Front Office when the student returns to school.

If the student does not have a note from a parent/guardian, the parent/guardian must come in to the Front Office with photo identification and sign out the student.  The student will then be called down from their class at that time.              

*Please do not call or text the student as that could result in the phone being confiscated and a detention.

LATE ARRIVAL

If a student arrives to school late (arriving in their first period class after 7:25am), the student must bring a written note signed by a parent/guardian or physician citing:

  1. the first and last name of the student 
  2. the date of the late arrival 
  3. an explanation why the student was late

If a student arrives to school late and does not have a note, a parent/guardian must come in to the Front Office to sign them in.

If a student arrives to school late and does not have a note and a parent/guardian does not come in to the Front Office, the student’s late arrival will be marked unexcused (and missed work will not be able to be turned in), even if the reason for the late arrival is valid.   

Continual unexcused late arrivals result in consequences including, but not limited to: phone calls to the parent, lunch detention(s) and Saturday school assignment(s).

PRE-ARRANGED ABSENCES

The Howard County Public School System grants students a maximum of three (3) excused absences (discretionary days) per school year when the absence is pre-arranged with the principal and teachers.

Reasons for such absences include: college visits or family commitments that cannot be scheduled on a non-school day. Such days may not occur during exam periods. 

If a student knows in advance that they will miss school, there is an approval process for pre-arranged absences.  This procedure informs the teachers of the students’ absence in advance and allows the student to get their work ahead of time.

If a student needs to have a pre-arranged absence approved, the student must bring a written note signed by a parent/guardian citing:

  1. the first and last name of the student
  2. the date(s) of the absence and
  3. an explanation of why the student will miss school

This note should be turned in to Mrs. Sauers in the Front Office at least four days before the student will be absent. Mrs. Sauers and the Principal, Mrs. Hutchens, will review the request. The next school day the student should come to the Front Office to collect a pre-arranged absence form. The student should take the form to all of their teachers for their signature to acknowledge receipt of the information. Once the form has been signed by all of the teachers, the form should be submitted to Mrs. Sauers in the Front Office.

If this process is followed and the completed pre-arranged absence form is submitted to Mrs. Sauers in the Front Office    in advance of the absence, the student is not required to have a note for their absence upon their return to school.

Please note, many teachers post assignments online (Canvas) so students can often view and access class work or homework even when they are not on campus.  The Pre-Approved Absence procedure (see policy description for details) allows the student to get their work ahead of time and/or to make the necessary arrangements with their teachers in advance of their absence (to include determining due dates).  In accordance with Policy 9010, Attendance, students returning from lawful (excused) absences have an equal number of days to complete make-up work.

RELIGIOUS OBLIGATION: REQUEST FOR ABSENCE 

The Board of Education recognizes the diversity of religious traditions represented among the staff and students of the Howard County Public School System and the value such diversity adds to the educational program. The Board respects the religious practices of staff and students and is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for religious obligations under Policy 3000, Religious Observances.

Parents must complete the Absence for Religious Obligation form if their child is planning to miss school in order to participate in a religious observance. Here is the link to the form: http://www.hcpss.org/aboutus/form_religiousabsence.pdf

The form should be turned in to Mrs. Sauers in the Front Office and she will forward the request to the Equity Assurance Office for disposition. If the student’s absence is approved, the absence will be considered a lawful absence either for the day or any portion of the day. That request should be received by the school before the date of the religious obligation. A student may make up work and receive a recorded grade when an absence for religious observance is approved. This includes opportunities to make up any missed tests or assignments.

If a note from the parent explaining the absence is not received by the school within two school days of the student’s return, the absence may be coded as unlawful (unexcused). If the religious obligation requires a student to leave prior to the end of the school day, the student must sign out according to the school’s early dismissal procedures.

Students who complete the school year with no absences, other than those resulting from religious obligation, will not be denied school attendance certificates where such are regularly awarded.

Athletic and Extracurricular Activities

The policies of the Howard County Public School System related to religious observance apply to student participation in athletic practices and games, as well as other extracurricular activities.

Students are excused from attendance at, or participation in, any extracurricular activity when their attendance or participation conflicts with their religious observance.

Athletic practices and events are optional for students on any religious holiday.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED (ATTENDANCE) QUESTIONS

Q: What do I do when my child is absent?

A: When a student is absent, the parent/guardian must call the school attendance line (410) 313-7073 and report the absence, or email the attendance email at ahsabsence@hcpss.org.

Upon returning to school after an absence, the student must bring a written note signed by a parent/guardian citing the date of the absence and an explanation why the student could not attend school. The student must take the note to his/her first period teacher. Upon receipt of the note, the attendance record in Synergy will be updated to reflect the excused absence. 

A student has two days from the date of the absence to bring in a note. If the note is received after the two-day grace period, the absence will remain unexcused. If a note is not received, the absence will be documented as Truant (unexcused). Please see the Secondary Student Handbook for more information.

Please note, many teachers post assignments online (Canvas) so students can often view and access class work or homework even when they are not on campus.  For an extended absence (minimum of two missed school days), make up work can be requested through the Guidance Office (410) 313-7068.  Requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance of work being claimed in the Guidance Office (this turnaround time is required to notify the teachers and give them time to prepare the required materials).

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Q: What is the Difference Between Excused and Unexcused Absences?

A: Lawful Absence - An excused absence for any portion of the day under the following conditions:

1. Illness of the student

2. Death in the immediate family

3. Court summons

4. Observance of a religious holiday

5. Hazardous weather conditions (as determined by the Superintendent)

6. State emergency (as determined by the Governor)

7. Suspension

8. Lack of authorized transportation (school system transportation)

9. Work approved or sponsored by the school

10. Other emergency or set of circumstances which, in the judgment of the Superintendent or designee, constitutes a good and sufficient cause for absence from school

Unlawful Absence (Truant) - An unexcused absence for any reason other than those cited as lawful are presumed as unlawful and may constitute truancy. Students unlawfully absent are considered truant.  The following reasons constitute an unlawful absence:

1. Missed bus

2. Car trouble

3. Traffic

4. No parking available

REMEMBER: Upon their return to school, the student must bring a written note signed by a parent/guardian citing the date of the absence and an explanation why the student could not attend school. A student has two days from the date of the absence to bring in a note. If the note is received after the two-day grace period, the absence will remain unexcused. If a note is not received, the absence will be documented as Truant (unexcused). Please see the Secondary Student Handbook for more information.

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Q: How can my child get make-up work that was missed due to an absence?  

A: Lawful Absence

-  A student may make up work and receive a recorded grade when an excused absence is documented. In accordance with Policy 9010, Attendance, students returning from lawful (excused) absences have an equal number of days to complete make-up work.

Unlawful Absence (Truant)

-  A student may make up work but will not receive a recorded grade for an unexcused absence.

Upon returning to school after an absence, it is the student’s responsibility to bring a note to their first period teacher and then get the work missed from each teacher.

Extended Absence

For an extended absence (minimum of two missed school days), make up work can be requested through the Guidance Office (410) 313-7068.  Requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance of work being claimed in the Guidance Office (this turnaround time is required to notify the teachers and give them time to prepare the required materials). 

Pre-Approved Absence

The Pre-Approved Absence procedure (see policy description for details) allows the student to get their work ahead of time and/or to make the necessary arrangements with their teachers in advance of their absence (to include determining due dates). 

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Q: Present, Half Day, or Absent?

A: Students who are in school less than 2 hours will be considered absent.

Students who are in school 2-4 hours will be recorded for a half-day absence.

Students must be in school at least 4 hours to be considered present.

Half-days add up!

**Please note, students must be in school for a minimum of three (3) periods to participate in extra-curricular activities, including sporting events and practices.

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Q: What is the procedure for pre-arranged/discretionary absences?

A: The Howard County Public School System grants students a maximum of three (3) excused absences (discretionary days) per school year when the absence is pre-arranged with the principal and teachers. Reasons for such absences include: college visits or family commitments that cannot be scheduled on a non-school day. Such days may not occur during exam periods. 

If a student knows in advance that they will miss school, there is an approval process for pre-arranged absences.  This procedure informs the teachers of the students’ absence in advance and allows the student to get their work ahead of time.   If a student needs to have a pre-arranged absence approved, the student must bring a written note signed by a parent/guardian citing the first and last name of the student, the date(s) of the absence and an explanation of why the student will miss school.

This note should be turned in to the Attendance Secretary, Mrs. Sauers, in the Front Office at least four days before the student will be absent.  Mrs. Sauers and the Principal, Mrs. Hutchens, will review the request. The next school day the student should come to the Front Office to collect a pre-arranged absence form. The student should take the form to all of their teachers for their signature to acknowledge receipt of the information. Once the form has been signed by all of the teachers, the form should be submitted to Mrs. Sauers in the Front Office.

If this process is followed and the completed pre-arranged absence form is submitted to Mrs. Sauers in the Front Office in advance of the absence, the student is not required to have a note for their absence upon their return to school.

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Q: When can credit be denied because of attendance?

A: The Howard County Public School System attendance policy states that any student with absences constituting five percent (5%) or greater of a semester or yearlong course can be considered for denial of credit.  The 5% absence rate in a year long course is 9 absences, whether excused or unexcused.

At the end of each quarter, each student’s attendance is calculated.  If your student’s absence rate is 5% or higher, you will receive a letter notifying you that continued absences can lead to loss of credit.

N (No credit due to absences) Codes may be issued when a student has earned a final passing grade but is denied credit from a course due to excessive absences. A student with absences constituting five percent (5%) or greater of a semester or yearlong course will be considered for denial of credit.  Courses with N codes will receive no credit, will count as a credit attempted, and will earn no quality points in the end-of-year GPA and cumulative GPA.   In accordance with Policy 8020, a teacher, when recommending denial of credit, and the principal, when making the final determination regarding denial of credit, will consider the following:

i. Excused or unexcused absences.

ii. Diligence, timeliness, and quality of make-up work.

iii. Extent of prior notice to student and parent regarding possibility of denial of credit.

iv. Improvement of student attendance following notice regarding possibility of denial of credit.

For GPA purposes, N codes are calculated as credits attempted and 0 quality points earned.

Students with unlawful absences for 10 consecutive school days or more will be withdrawn from school and may be allowed to re-enroll, provided they meet enrollment requirements, upon their return.

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If you have any questions about your student’s attendance or the HCPSS attendance policy, please contact the AHS Attendance Secretary, Mrs. Sauers, at (410) 313-7065 or via e-mail at deborah_sauers@hcpss.org or ahsabsence@hcpss.org.