Attendance Excuses, and Chronic Absenteeism
Connecticut state law requires parents to cause their children, ages five through eighteen inclusive, to attend school regularly during the hours and terms the public school is in session. Parents or persons having control of a child five years of age have the option of not sending the child to school until ages six or seven. Mandatory attendance terminates upon graduation or withdrawal with written parent/guardian consent at age seventeen.
A student is considered to be "in attendance" if present at his/her assigned school, or an activity sponsored by the school (e.g., field trip), for at least half of the regular school day. A student who is serving an out-of-school suspension or expulsion should always be considered absent. A student not meeting the definition of "in attendance" shall be considered absent.
Classroom learning experiences are the basis for public school education. Time lost from class is lost instructional opportunity. The Board of Education requires that accurate records be kept of the attendance of each child, and students should not be absent from school without parental knowledge and consent.
Definitions (related to chronic absenteeism)
Chronically absent child: means a child who is enrolled in a school under the jurisdiction of a local or regional board of education and whose total number of absences at any time during a school year is equal to or greater than ten percent of the total number of days that such student has been enrolled at such school during such school year.
A. an excused absence, unexcused absence or disciplinary absence, as those terms are defined by the State Board of Education pursuant to section 10-198b, or
B. an in-school suspension, as defined in section 10-233a, that is greater than or equal to one-half of a school day.
District chronic absenteeism rate: means the total number of chronically absent children under the jurisdiction of a local or regional board of education in the previous school year divided by the total number of children under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education for such school year.
School chronic absenteeism rate: means the total number of chronically absent children for a school in the previous school year divided by the total number of children enrolled in such school for such school year.
Note: The use of the state approved definitions of "excused" and "unexcused" absences are for state purposes for the reporting of truancy. Districts are not precluded from using separate definitions of such absences for their internal uses such as involving decisions on areas such as promotion and grading.
A student's absence from school shall be considered "excused" if written documentation of the reason for such absence has been submitted within ten (10) school days of the student's return to school and meets the following criteria:
A. For absences one through nine, a student's absences from school are considered "excused" when the student's parent/guardian approves such absence and notifies school officials.
B. For the tenth absence and all absences thereafter, a student's absences from school are considered excused for the following reasons:
1. Student illness (must be verified by a licensed medical professional to be deemed excused, regardless of the length of the absence);
2. Student's observance of a religious holiday;
3. Death in the student's family or other emergency beyond the control of the student's family;
4. Mandated court appearances (documentation required);
5. The lack of transportation that is normally provided by a district other than the one the student attends (no parental documentation required);
6. Extraordinary educational opportunities pre-approved by District administration and to be in accordance with Connecticut State Department of Education guidance.
C. A student's absence from school shall be considered unexcused unless:
1. The absence meets the definition of an excused absence and meets the documentation requirements; or
2. The absence meets the definition of a disciplinary absence, which is the result of school or District disciplinary action and are excluded from these State Board of Education approved definitions.
When the school in which a child is enrolled receives no notification from a parent or other person having control of the child is aware of the child's absence, a reasonable effort shall be made by school personnel or volunteers under the direction of school personnel to notify by telephone and other means such parent or other person having control of the child.
Excused Absences for Children of Service Members
An enrolled student, age five to eighteen, inclusive, whose parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the armed forces, as defined in section 27-103, and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, shall be granted ten days of excused absences in any school year and, at the discretion of the Board of Education, additional excused absences to visit such child's parent or legal guardian with respect to such leave or deployment of the parent or legal guardian. In the case of such excused absences such child and parent or legal guardian shall be responsible to obtaining assignments from the student's teacher prior to any period of excused absence, and for ensuring that such assignments are completed by such child prior to his or her return to school from such period of excused absence.
The Board of Education, in compliance with statute, requires the establishment of attendance review teams when chronic absenteeism rates in the District or at individual schools in the District meet the following circumstances:
1. A team for the District must be established when the District chronic absenteeism rate is 10 percent or higher.
2. A team for the school must be established when the school chronic absenteeism rate is 15 percent or higher.
3. A team for either the District or each school must be established when (a) more than one school in the District has a school chronic absenteeism rate of 15 percent or higher or (b) a District has a District chronic absenteeism rate of 10 percent or higher and one or more schools in the District have a school chronic absenteeism rate of 15 percent or higher.
The membership of attendance review teams may consist of school administrators, guidance counselors, school social workers, teachers, chronically absent children, parents or guardians of chronically absent children, and representatives from community-based programs who address issues related to student attendance by providing programs and services to truants.
Each attendance review team shall be responsible for reviewing the cases of truants and chronically absent children, discussing school interventions and community referrals for such truants and chronically absent children and making any additional recommendations for such truants and chronically absent children and their parents or guardians. Each established attendance review team shall meet at least monthly.
The District shall utilize the chronic absenteeism prevention and intervention plan developed by the State Department of Education. Such plan must include the means for collecting and analyzing data relating to student attendance, truancy and chronic absenteeism. The data must be disaggregated by school district, school grades and subgroups such as race, ethnicity, gender, eligibility for free and reduced priced lunches, students whose primary language is not English, and students with disabilities.
The District shall annually include in information for the strategic school profile report for each school and the District that is submitted to the Commissioner of Education, data pertaining to truancy and chronically absent children.
The Principal or his/her designee of any elementary or middle school located in a town/city designated as an alliance district may refer to the children's truancy clinic established by the Probate Court serving the town/city, a parent/guardian with a child defined as a truant or who is at risk of becoming a truant. (An attendance officer or a police officer shall deliver the citation and summons and a copy of the referral to the parent/guardian.)
No school, grade, or class may be dismissed before the regularly scheduled dismissal time without the approval of the Superintendent or his/her designee.
No student may be permitted to leave school at any time other than at regular dismissal without the approval of the student's parent/guardian. If a court official with legal permission to take custody of a child, or if a police officer arrests a student, the parent/guardian should be notified of these situations by the administration.
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes
10-184 Duties of parents (as amended by PA 98-243, PA 00-157, and PA 18-15)
10-198a Policies and procedures concerning truants (as amended by P.A.11-136, An Act Concerning Minor Revisions to the Education Statutes and PA 14-198, An Act Concerning Excused Absences from School for Children of Service Members, and PA 16-147, An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee)
10-198b State Board of Education to define "excused absence," "unexcused absence," and "disciplinary absence"
10-198d Chronic absenteeism (as amended by PA 17-14 and PA 18-182)
45a-8c Truancy clinic. Administration. Policies and procedures. Report. (as amended by PA 15-25)
10-199 through 10-202 Attendance, truancy - in general
Action taken by State Board of Education on January 2, 2008, to define "attendance."
Action taken by State Board of Education on June 27, 2012, to define "excused" and "unexcused" absences.
PA 17-14 An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Department of Education
Policy adopted: December 16, 2002; Amended: January 6, 2020