‘Chronic Absenteeism’ to be part of amended school policy

‘Chronic Absenteeism’ to be part of amended school policy

WESTOVER — To comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 Somerset County Public Schools is updating its Elementary and Secondary Attendance policy to include a definition for “Chronic Absenteeism.”

Deputy Superintendent Tom Davis said chronic absenteeism will be another “data point” schools and the school system will be held accountable for. To be chronically absent a K-12 student is deemed to be out of school “regardless of the reason” for at least 10 percent of the school year.

For example, if a student starts school on the first day and is absent for 18 days “they are considered chronically absent,” Mr. Davis said.

Also in the policy, the definition for Half Day and Full Day Attendance expands to include a student being counted present “if at a school or at a school activity sponsored by the school and personally supervised by school personnel….” That could include field trips, athletic events, independent study, festival attendance or instruction for homebound students.

In the administrative procedures section it references prevention, intervention, notification and consequences of absenteeism, but for now other points in Policy 600-7 will remain unchanged as they link to several other policies.

The Board of Education voted to accept the amended policy for first reader at its Sept. 17 meeting. Attorney Fulton Jeffers, however, was interested in reviewing it so if changes are necessary they can be made before the second reader and final vote at the October meeting.