COLUMN: Students should have written excuse for absences

Published 8:36 am Friday, October 26, 2018

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After one quarter of the 18/19 school year, Demopolis students are attending school at a daily rate of just less than 98 percent. Students and parents need to be commended for this effort. A free public education is one of the greatest opportunities for the children of Alabama.  It is imperative that attendance and one’s education are taken seriously and are a priority in all families.

Guest Columnist
Kallhoff is the superintendent of the Demopolis City School System.

Seventy-six percent of the student absences this year are unexcused due to not having a parent or doctor’s excuse. Remember, anytime your child is absent, he or she must return to school with a parent or doctor’s excuse.  Students are allowed up to 5 parent excuses per year with no limit on doctor’s excuses.  Failure to provide these written excuses could lead to a truancy complaint with the Marengo County District Judge. According to Alabama Code, any parent found guilty of failing to require a child to attend school may be jailed for up to one year, or fined up to $500, or both.

The school administrators and teachers need students to be in attendance on time and all day.  Multiple check-ins and early dismissals can add up to missed instructional time. Missed instructional time can lead to students getting behind academically and in need for intervention, private tutoring, or even summer school to catch up. As a reminder, students are allowed four parent excuses for check-ins and early dismissals. After four parent excuses, check-ins and early dismissals must be accompanied with a doctor’s excuse.  An abundance of unexcused check-ins or early dismissals will result in a referral to the early warning truancy program and may lead to a truancy complaint filed with the Marengo County District Judge.

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In addition, it is strongly encouraged for parents not to check their children out after 2 p.m.  Late afternoon check-outs cause loss of instructional time, disruptions in the school day and interruptions in afternoon traffic flow on each campus. If we can make it to 2 p.m., then in most cases we can make it all day.

I encourage you to stay connected with your child’s education and school attendance by checking STI parent portal frequently and maintaining communication with the school(s).  Thank you for taking school attendance seriously and making a free public education a priority in your family and Demopolis, Alabama.