Public education in the commonwealth of Massachusetts has always been and continues to be a top priority of the state and its residents. State leaders recognized the importance of education in 1780 when they drafted the constitution and they continue to recognize it today in their ongoing efforts to provide a world class education for our children. While there are many things people don’t agree on, most folks get behind the idea that going to school and engaging in a great education is one of the fundamental building blocks of long term success. While a healthy school culture and great teaching are critical, a child must attend school to enjoy the benefits of public education.
To that end, the Massachusetts legislature mandates school attendance and sets very clear parameters for how schools maintain attendance and how they must respond when students do not attend school. Based upon those parameters, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education specifies regulations for local school districts and from there school committees and districts set policies that will implement the laws and regulations set forth by the state. Natick’s policies can be found using this link. The policies lay out how we manage attendance at the district and building level. The following paragraphs summarize and spell out some of the information contained within that policy.
What is an excused absence?
The Natick Public Schools recognizes that unforeseen illnesses and extraordinary circumstances necessitate absences. The Natick School Committee has designated the following circumstances as excused absences:
- Illness or quarantine (Absences of 5 or more consecutive days require a physician’s certificate for readmission to school)
- Bereavement or serious illness in family
- Weather so inclement as to endanger the health of any child
- Observations of major religious holidays
- Other exceptional reasons with the approval of the school principal
In the event of a planned absence or tardiness, the parent must provide advanced written notice to the school. In the event of unforeseen absences or tardiness, the parent must call the school as soon as it is determined a child will be absent or tardy.
What if I’m taking my child out of the country or on a long vacation?
There is no replacement for loss of instruction.Should a parent choose to keep a student out of school for reasons other than illness or excused situations, the school will not assume responsibility for either preparing lessons in advance for the student or providing individual tutoring or extensive individual help for the student when he or she returns. It will be the responsibility of the student and the parent to identify work that may be missed. While teachers will provide the normal range of assistance, it is the student’s responsibility for making up work.
What can families expect?
Families should expect to be notified if their child has reached or exceeded the number of absences commensurate with Chapter 76, section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Recurring, unexcused absences compromise the learning and well-being of children. When a child accrues extensive, unexcused absences, parents may expect any or all of the following action to be taken:
- Phone call or letter home informing families of excessive absences
- Meeting with the principal to discuss absences
- Home visit by school resource officer
- Court involvement for truancy
- Referral for home assessment
The policy can be found on the Natick Public Schools website by clicking here.