School board approves new student attendance policy

By Kayleigh Rahn
Tuscola school parents will soon receive information regarding a new attendance policy for the Tuscola Community Unit School District.

The school board, during the Monday, June 26 meeting, approved a policy amendment that creates one attendance policy for the three school buildings.

“We’ve talked about getting all three buildings on the same policy, not so much for our sake but for the parents,” Superintendent Michael Smith said. “The secretaries and I talked it out, and they want to use the same letter and the same guidelines to make it easier for the fourth grader who then becomes a fifth grader to work under the same guidelines and certainly for mom and dad.”

High school Principal Brad Allen said the change was suggested after collaboration between the three building offices.

“Attendance right now is excellent within the district, but it’s something we can always improve,” Allen said. “With that said, we want some consistency between the buildings, and we think communication is key and setting uniform expectations is also key. So, if we have the same expectations from kindergarten through their senior year of high school and know what that communication is going to be, we can get a handle on things before we have excessive absences. With that said, there are always exceptions. There are students who have medical conditions where they’ve had to miss certain days. We look at everything and the individual, but we want them all at school when possible so we have to start somewhere.”

The new policy says students will receive a warning letter after five days of absence. The letter will warn the student and parent that after eight absences a doctor’s note will be required for further missed days. The doctor’s note (or physician assistant’s note) will need to be provided to the building office within 48 hours of the absence. Without a medical note future absences will be considered unexcused.

“That letter will be consistent across the district with the same verbiage as well as the number of days,” Allen said. “In summary, it’s an opportunity for consistency and consistency of expectations.”

The full story can be found in the June 28, 2017, edition of The Tuscola Journal.