Mandatory Attendance Legislation
Code of Alabama (1975) §16-28-3 requires all persons between the age of six (6) and seventeen (17) years of age to attend school for the minimum number of scholastic days prescribed by the State Board of Education. All laws regarding school attendance shall be strictly enforced by the Vestavia Hills Board of Education.
Kindergarten Age Requirement – A student must be five years old on or before September 2, the date set by state guidelines, to be admitted for kindergarten for the current school year.
First Grade Age Requirement – Students entering first grade for the first time must be six (6) years old on or before December 31st. Students turning six (6) years old after December 31st shall not be eligible for admission to first grade during that school year, except that an underage child who transfers from the first grade of a school in another state may be admitted to school upon the approval of the local school system. An underage child who has moved into this state having completed or graduated from a mandated kindergarten program in another state shall be entitled to admission to the first grade, regardless of age.
Students are to arrive on time for the beginning of the school day and leave the school campus immediately upon dismissal for the day and/or from other school related activities.
Tardies are considered excused for the same reason(s) as excused student absences. The principal or his/her designee may impose disciplinary measures for excessive tardies. Excessive tardies may result in a home visit by the VHCS Attendance Officer.
Necessary check-ins or check-outs must be processed by the parent through the school’s office. It is encouraged that parents/guardians schedule appointments which are not of a critical nature, for times and days when school is not in session. Check-ins/outs are considered excused for the same reasons as excused absences. Excessive check-ins/outs may result in a home visit by the VHCS Attendance Officer.
Students are not permitted to be absent from school without a valid excuse.
Absence Monitoring by Parents
Parents are expected to monitor and are held responsible for student attendance. If a parent has a question or concern about an absence, the parent should contact the school as soon as possible.
The parent/legal guardian must provide a written explanation (excuse) to the school principal for each student absence within three (3) days of the student’s return to school, or the absence will be coded unexcused.
Absences will be permitted for the following reasons:
- Illness that endangers the student’s health or the health of others.
- Students that are deemed ill by the school nurse on a given day.
- Death of an immediate family.
- Legal quarantine.
- Students that are receiving healthcare, hospitalized, etc.
- Inclement weather that would be dangerous to the life and health of the child as determined by the LEA (Vestavia Hills City Schools).
- Legal requirements for students.
- Observance of any sacred day set aside by a recognized religious denomination of which the student is a member.
- Military deployment date of a student’s parent.
- Emergency conditions as determined by the LEA (Vestavia Hills City Schools).
Any absences not excused shall be considered unexcused.
The parent/legal guardian must provide a written explanation (excuse) to the school principal or his/her designee for each student absence within three (3) days of the student’s return to school or the absence will be coded unexcused. An email from the parent will be accepted as a written excuse.
For a student’s consecutive days of absence, a parent/legal guardian may submit one written excuse for the length of the absence. A student may have no more than 10 days excused by parent note per year. After the 10th parent excuse, a doctor or legal excuse will be required.
The written excuse must include the following:
- Written statement from the parent or doctor stating the reason for the absence
- The date of the absence(s)
- The parent’s signature (email will serve as an electronic signature)
The principal has the authority to approve and excuse absences for students. A principal may approve no more than 10 days requested to be excused by parent note per year. A parent may request a pre-approved absence by going to the district or school website and using the pre-approved absence form.
College-University Visits by Students
A student in grades 10-12 at Vestavia Hills High School may visit campuses of colleges/universities as a means of making his/her choice of a post-secondary institution to attend after graduation. All college visits must be pre-approved. The visits shall be considered as field trips, and therefore, not counted as a student absence if the following stipulations are met. If they are not met, the absence/s will count toward the 10 pre-approved excuses per year.
- Such college/university visits are limited to three (3) school days during a given academic year.
- Upon returning from a college/university visit, the student shall submit to the principal signed documentation from an official at the college/university as evidence that the visit occurred.
Students with excused absences may have five (5) school days upon returning to make up any missed work. At the teacher’s discretion, they may or may not be given the same work done by the students who were in class. Students with unexcused absences, may be allowed to make up some or all missed work at the discretion of the school administration. The student may or may not be given the same work done by the students who were in class.
Student Withdrawal Due to Absences
The Code of Alabama § 16-28-40 defines withdrawals as “more than ten (10) consecutive days or fifteen (15) days of total unexcused absences during a single semester.” A student meeting these criteria (without acceptable parent, doctor, or legal excuses) is subject to withdrawal from school.
For students seventeen (17) years of age or older who are withdrawn from school due to attendance issues, the Attendance Officer notifies the Department of Public Safety of the withdrawal. The Department of Public Safety shall deny or revoke a driver’s license or learner’s permit for the operation of a motor vehicle to any person under the age of nineteen (19) who has obtained withdrawn status.
Truancy is defined as “unexcused absences or skipping school/class for a day or portion thereof.” Parents or guardians are required to ensure that students under their care, custody, or control attend school regularly. Habitual or excessive absence from school may require Board officials to refer the matter to juvenile authorities or to initiate truancy proceedings.
- On the first unexcused truancy, the parent/guardian will be notified by the school principal or his/her designee that the student was truant and the date of the truancy. The parent/guardian will also be provided with a copy of Alabama’s compulsory school attendance law and advised of the penalties that can be applied and the procedures that will be followed in the event that other unexcused absences occur.
- On the second unexcused truancy, the parent/guardian will be notified by the school principal or his/her designee that the student has accumulated their second truancy and the date of the truancy. The parent/guardian will be encouraged to submit written documentation supporting the absence if it is to be considered excused. School officials will meet with the student to identify reasons the student has missed school.
- Should a student accumulate four (4) unexcused absences during a school year, he/she will be referred to the school administrator. A meeting will be scheduled between the parent/guardian and administrator to review the student’s current attendance record, discuss VHCS attendance and tardy policies, and develop a plan of intervention.
- Should a student accumulate six (6) unexcused absences during a school year, the parent/guardian will be referred to the VHCS Attendance Officer. The parent will be required to participate in the Early Warning Program provided by the Juvenile Court System and/or attend a Student Attendance meeting at the Vestavia Hills Board of Education. Attendance at these conferences is mandatory except where prior arrangements have been made or an emergency exists.
- When the Attendance Officer has been notified by the principal or his/her designee that the student has reached 7 unexcused absences, 15 excused absences or 10 unexcused tardies, the principal or his/her designee in conference with the Attendance Officer will decide whether or not to refer the student to Early Warning.
- The Attendance Officer will go out to the home address of the child prior to the filing with Family Court to verify the address and residency of the child.
- The Attendance Officer will complete and provide all documentation required by the court.
- The Attendance Officer will send the referral to Family Court, listing the date set for review.
- The Attendance Officer will mail a letter to the parents specifying the date and time for Early Warning.
- The Attendance Officer will be present at the review.
- The Attendance Officer will report to the school the action taken by Early Warning.