The state law regarding compulsory student attendance has been modified in recent legislation and the Maryville City School Board has updated local policies to match the Tennessee State Statutes. These changes clearly indicate that parent, guardian, or other person having control of the student must monitor the student's school attendance and require the student to attend school. These new policies impact all students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Unexcused absences and habitual truancy are of concern for all schools across the country. Truancy has been identified as one of the early warning signs of students headed for educational failure, potential delinquent activity, and social isolation, according to the National Center for School Engagement. Daily attendance in school is one of the factors shown to positively contribute to student success, and requires a school-home team working together.
In order to meet the new expectations, all elementary schools have made changes to our attendance expectations for students and parents. These attendance expectations are now aligned with the Intermediate, Junior High, and High School. The K-12 attendance plan includes a progressive truancy intervention plan to support students who may exceed 5 or more unexcused absences for the school year.
All students will be limited to 10 excused absences with a parent note. All absences that occur above the limit of 10 will be considered unexcused absences. Exceptions would include absences with documentation of a doctor's visit, religious holidays, or a death in the family. All parent notes should be submitted within 3 days of the absence. For example, a student is home sick for 3 days due to the flu, and the parents sends in a note upon the return for the three days. The parent note counts as 3 excused absences for the student. Another example might be a family who is taking a family trip outside of the vacation times indicated in the school calendar. If the family trip lasts 4 days, then the parent note will count as 4 excused absences for the student, as long as they have not already used the maximum of 10 parent notes.
The progressive intervention plan outlined below begins once a student has reached a certain number of unexcused absences.
- If a student reaches 3 unexcused absences, the school will make parent contact through phone, email, or mail to help determine ways to improve attendance.
- If a student reaches 5 unexcused absences, then Tier 1 of the progressive truancy intervention plan begins. Administration will contact the parent to hold a conference, start an attendance contract, and monitor student attendance every 30 days.
- If a student reaches 7 unexcused absences, then Tier 2 of the progressive truancy intervention plan begins. This will include a parent conference with administration, an individual assessment detailing the reasons the student has been absent, discussion of supports that are needed for the family, and follow up meetings every 30 days with administration and other district representatives.
- If a student reaches 9 unexcused absences, then Tier 3 of the progressive truancy intervention plan begins. This will include a mandatory parent conference with administration and the district attendance coordinator. Per school board policy, interventions at this level may consist of one or more of the following:
- School based community service
- Participation in a school based restorative justice program
- Referral to a school based teen court
- Saturday or after school courses designed to improve attendance
- If a student reaches 10 or more unexcused absences, then a petition to juvenile court for truancy will be made.
Maryville City Schools administrators, in accordance with the Tennessee State Statutes on attendance and truancy hope that by re-emphasizing the importance of school attendance with parents, guardians, and students, we can reduce and eliminate truancy, and help every student take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. We also hope to help parents understand the importance of regular school attendance and its impact on student success by starting in Kindergarten.