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Ponca City Board of Education approves new attendance policy

Ponca City Now - June 25, 2019 2:42 pm

The Ponca City Board of Education has established a new attendance policy, enabling school officials and parents to take a proactive approach to combat the problem of chronic absenteeism.

The policy allows for multiple opportunities for schools to communicate and collaborate with parents if chronic absenteeism becomes a pattern.   Many parents do not realize chronic absenteeism relates to all absences, excused or unexcused, with the exception of approved school-related activities.

In setting the new policy, the board of education emphasized it is vitally important for students to be in attendance at school as often as possible to make the most potential gains in achievement.

Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school year negatively affects a student’s academic performance.

By definition, a student is chronically absent when they miss 10 percent of the school year.   Missing as little as two days a month will result in chronic absenteeism.

In the U.S., approximately 7 million (1 in 7) students miss nearly a month of school each year, and chronic absenteeism is a problem for Ponca City students as well.   During the 2018-19 school year, 1,026 students missed more than 10 percent of the school year. That is about 20 percent of the enrolled students.

The Compulsory Education Act requires Oklahoma educators to track attendance and address potential issues.   This act requires parents to have their children in school; if violated, it can result in misdemeanor charges.   The City of Ponca City also has an Ordinance, 7-2D-3, which addresses neglect or refusal to attend school, and violations can result in a fine.

The new attendance policy requires multiple communication efforts to avoid possible legal consequence.   In order to approach each child’s individual situation in the most appropriate manner, the following procedures will be followed if a student’s attendance record indicates a pattern of absences that may be detrimental to their educational progress.

The site principal may determine extenuating circumstances.   However, for reasons limited exclusively to medical or other extenuating circumstances, parents may appeal to a committee chaired by the appropriate principal or grade-level assistant principal.

  1. On the occasion of the 4th absence, the building principal, or designee, will notify the parent/guardian in writing.   This notification will be a form letter generated through the Student Information System.
  2. On the occasion of the 6th absence, the building principal, or designee, will notify the parent/guardian with another form letter explaining attendance policies, along with a copy of the City of Ponca City’s Truancy Ordinance.
  3. On the occasion of the 8th absence, the building principal, or designee, will schedule a face-to-face conference with the parent/guardian and student to compile/complete an attendance contract so the school and family can work together to enhance student attendance.   The 8th absence may result in a report to DHS, the School Resource Officer, and/or the District Attorney’s Office.
  4. On the occasion of the 12th absence, the building principal, or designee, will arrange a parent/guardian meeting with the SRO, parent, and student to review the contract along with the City ordinance.   At this time, the SRO may issue a warning to parents/guardians for failure to comply with the City ordinance. Failure of the parent to participate in this meeting may result in a report to DHS and or the DA’s Office.
  5. On the occasion of the 16th absence, the building principal, or designee, will notify the parent/guardian and will warn the parent/guardian again of the City ordinance and the possibility of a citation.
  6. On the occasion of the 17th absence, the parent/guardian may be issued a citation.   Each additional day of non-compliance with the attendance policy may result in additional penalties.

The District realizes there will be extenuating circumstances and will make a diligent effort to work with families to alleviate attendance issues before consequences are imposed.

The above mentioned steps will be a uniform process throughout the district to work proactively with parents and guardians to help students have every opportunity to experience academic success.

Principals are already brainstorming activities and incentives to foster improved attendance.  Parents can be proactive by scheduling doctor’s appointments on a school holiday or a teacher professional development day.

The 2019-20 School Calendar is already located on the district website, www.pcps.us.   There are multiple non-student contact days available throughout the school year to schedule appointments.

 

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