DHS absence policy may affect students

Published 11:28 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Although overall attendance patterns for Demopolis High School are very strong, a number of students may face the loss of credit as absences accumulate. Some loss of credit may have been due to excessive absences in the fall semester, but, unfortunately, additional loss of credit will take place for some students as result of their poor attendance record in the spring.

“The fall semester is over, and what is done is done,” said DHS principal Dr. Isaac Espy. “It is a shame that some of our students may lose credit for courses in the spring, when they know their situation in terms of attendance, and their parents are also aware of their child’s attendance record. Many of these students have worked very hard in some of these classes. It is always discouraging to have to sit down with parents and students and tell them that no credit will be awarded, but when we reach that point, however, our hands are tied.”

According to school policy, students lose credit for coursework when they accumulate more than 10 unexcused absences in a semester.

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“Some people wonder how it is possible for a student to have more than 10 unexcused absences,” Espy said. “The problem begins when these students reach their 10th absence at any point in time during the school year. They must then have legal or medical documentation for any future absence to be excused. Unless students then make up their mind to get to school like it’s their jobs, and that means every day, that’s when the unexcused absences pile up.”

Espy pointed out that parents do not necessarily have to contact the school, or wait until report card day to stay abreast of their child’s attendance record.

“Every parent with access to the Internet may check on their child’s attendance, grades, and conduct records through the STI Home program,” he said. “This is every day. There is absolutely no reason, barring lack of access to a computer, that parents should be unaware of an attendance problem.”

School and board policies are very specific related to absenteeism, and are found in the student handbook and the student plan books. Both of these documents have been given to each student attending Demopolis High School.

Demopolis City Board of Education Policy recognizes excused absences as those summarized in the following categories: illness of student, death in immediate family, inclement weather, legal quarantine, emergency conditions as determined by principal, and prior permission by the principal. In addition, state law provides that that after two days, any absence not explained in writing shall be marked as unexcused.

Any student that accumulates 10 or more absences in any class must provide legal or medical documentation for absences to be excused. Exceptions due to extenuating circumstances must be approved by the school principal. Demopolis City Board of Education Policy states that students who are absent from school or class for 10 days per semester without proper excuse may not receive credit for course work.