ACHS Attendance Policy

Amherst County Public Schools believes that school attendance is directly related to academic achievement and to the development of good attendance habits that are important as students enter adulthood. Optimum student attendance is a collaborative effort, and Amherst County Public Schools expects parents and students to take active roles in accepting that responsibility. 

The Virginia Department of Education has revised the Standards of Accreditation to include attendance rate. Students who miss more than ten percent (10%) of the school year, EXCUSED or UNEXCUSED, will impact the accreditation of Amherst County High School. 

Compulsory School Attendance (§ 22.1-258) 

Appointment of attendance officers; notification when pupil fails to report to school; plan; conference; court proceedings. Every school board shall have power to appoint one or more attendance officers, who shall be charged with the enforcement of the provisions of this article.

Where no attendance officer is appointed by the school board, the division superintendent or his designee shall act as attendance officer. 

 

Whenever any pupil fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, a reasonable effort to notify by telephone the parent to obtain an explanation for the pupil's absence shall be made by either the school principal or his designee, the attendance officer, other school personnel, or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose. Any such volunteers shall not be liable for any civil damages for any acts or omissions resulting from making such reasonable efforts to notify parents and obtain such explanation when such acts or omissions are taken in good faith, unless such acts or omissions were the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. This subsection shall not be construed to limit, withdraw, or overturn any defense or immunity already existing in statutory or common law or to affect any claim occurring prior to the effective date of this law. School divisions are encouraged to use non-instructional personnel for this notice. 

 

Whenever any pupil fails to report to school for a total of five scheduled school days for the school year and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, and a reasonable effort to notify the parent has failed, the school principal or his designee shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that direct contact is made with the parent in person, through telephone conversation, or through the use of other communications devices to obtain an explanation for the pupil's absence and to explain to the parent the consequences of continued nonattendance. The school principal or his designee, the pupil, and the pupil's parent shall jointly develop a plan to resolve the pupil's nonattendance. Such a plan shall include documentation of the reasons for the pupil's nonattendance. 

 

If the pupil is absent for more than one additional day after direct contact with the pupil's parent, and school personnel have received no indication that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, the school principal or his designee shall schedule a conference with the pupil, his parent, and school personnel. Such conferences may include the attendance officer and other community service providers to resolve issues related to the pupil's nonattendance. The conference shall be held no later than 10 school days after the tenth absence of the pupil, regardless of whether his parent approves of the conference. The conference team shall monitor the pupil's attendance and may meet again as necessary to address concerns and plan additional interventions if attendance does not improve. In circumstances in which the parent is intentionally noncompliant with compulsory attendance requirements or the pupil is resisting parental efforts to comply with compulsory attendance requirements, the principal or his designee shall make a referral to the attendance officer. The attendance officer shall schedule a conference with the pupil and his parent within 10 school days and may (i) file a complaint with the juvenile and domestic relations district court alleging the pupil is a child in need of supervision as defined in § 16.1-228 or (ii) institute proceedings against the parent pursuant to § 18.2-371 or 22.1-262. In filing a complaint against the student, the attendance officer shall provide written documentation of the efforts to comply with the provisions of this section. In the event that both parents have been awarded joint physical custody pursuant to § 20-124.2 and the school has received notice of such order, both parents shall be notified at the last known addresses of the parents. 

 

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit in any way the authority of any attendance officer or division superintendent to seek immediate compliance with the compulsory school attendance law as set forth in this article. Attendance officers, other school personnel or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability in connection with the notice to parents of a pupil's absence or failure to give such notice as required by this section. 

 

Truancy Procedures 

When a student exceeds the allotted time to excuse an absence (2 days), a reasonable effort by the attendance coordinator will be made via telephone to notify the parent(s) about their child’s unexcused absence. Once a student has accumulated five (5) days of unexcused absences (scheduled school days) for the school year, the school will send a written notice to the parent or guardian. 

At five (5) unexcused absences, an attendance review meeting (ARM) is scheduled and an attendance plan developed to improve attendance and discuss repercussions for nonattendance. Another conference is held after an additional day is missed. If, after completion of the attendance review meeting (ARM), the student reaches 10 unexcused absences, school officials will notify the School Accountability Coordinator, who will then enforce the provisions of 22.1-258 by either or both of the following (i) filing a complaint with the juvenile and domestic relations court alleging the student is a child in need of supervision as defined in 16.1-228 or (ii) instituting proceedings against the parent pursuant to 18.2-371 or 22.1-262. In filing the complaint against the student, the principal or his designee shall provide written documentation of the efforts to comply with the provisions of section 22.1-258. If the student’s parents have joint physical custody of the student and the school has notice of the custody arrangement, then both parents shall be notified at their last known addresses. 

Dance/Prom Regulations 

Students that have accumulated 10 percent or more in absences by the date of the dance (excused and unexcused) will not be allowed to attend any dance, including the prom. If extenuating circumstances occur, an appeal must be requested by the student and granted by the building principal or designee. 

Student Absences 

The Amherst County High School administration, faculty, staff, and parents believe that regular school attendance is essential not only for academic success, but also for the development of habits that are required in the workplace. To foster these goals, we have developed an attendance policy, which places a limit on the number of absences that a student may have in a class in order to receive credit. 

Attendance will be taken daily by first period teachers and a list of absentees will be generated and emailed to all teachers by the ACHS Attendance Coordinator. 

All absences will be classified as excused or unexcused. An excused absence is defined as an absence due to medical appointment or illness/sickness, court appointment, or death in the immediate family. All other absences are unexcused. 

I. Absences: For each day a student is absent, the parent/guardian must provide a written note stating the reason for the absence. Notes must be submitted within two days of the absence. Notes submitted after two days will only be excused by the Principal or his designee.

Excused absences will only be granted for the following reasons:

a. Medical Condition or appointment verified by a doctor’s note.

b. An approved school-sponsored event.

 c. Engage in a one day civic event per school year.

 

d. Death or serious illness in the immediate family. The Principal or designee will also consider each individual case and any extenuating circumstances.

 

e. Personal required court appearances with documentation from the Court.

 

f. Approved pre-planned absences.

 

g. Extenuating circumstances which are determined by the principal or designee.

 

h. After written notes are submitted by a parent/guardian for 10 days of personal illness of a student, a doctor’s note or other documentation may be required to excuse any future absences.

Please note: All other absences not included in the list above will be classified as unexcused absences. As a result, there are consequences for unexcused absences as described in the Compulsory Attendance Procedures in § 22.1-258 of the Code of Virginia. Amherst County Public Schools must ensure that all students are compliant with the Code of Virginia as it relates to school attendance.

II. Attendance Reporting and Action for Unexcused Absences

 a. For each day the student is absent, a phone call, text, or email shall be sent to the parent/guardian to advise them that the student is absent.

 

b. On the fifth unexcused absence, direct contact should be made with the parent/guardian, either in person or by phone, to obtain an explanation for the student’s absences and to explain to the parent the consequences of continued nonattendance. School personnel and the student’s parent/guardian shall develop a written plan to resolve the student’s nonattendance.

 

c. On the sixth unexcused absence, the school shall notify the parent/guardian and request a face to face attendance review meeting.

 

d. On the 10th unexcused absence, the Student Accountability Coordinator may file a truancy petition with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. This proceeding may be against both the parent/guardian and the student.

 

School Activities 

A student must be present in all 4 blocks of the school day in order to participate in any extracurricular activities, such as sports, clubs, and performing arts. This includes school sponsored events such as games, after-school field trips, and dances. A student may attend these activities if part of the day is excused by official medical documentation, court appointments, and family bereavement circumstances. If a student is absent for all 4 blocks of the instructional day he/she will not be eligible to participate in after-school activities. The administration may exercise discretion in special cases. Student athletes should refer to the Student Athlete Handbook for further information concerning eligibility. 

The School Accountability Coordinator will proactively collaborate with the administration to assist with the enforcement of the ACPS attendance policies and procedures when addressing excessive absences and reporting truancy violations. 

Leaving School During the Day 

Students must have permission from their legal parent/guardian and school official to leave school during the school day. Students who leave school without permission from the attendance office or administration are considered to be truant and may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including out of school suspension. Students who have been seen on school grounds before school begins and who do not return for classes will also be considered as leaving school without permission and truant from school. 

If a student desires to be excused from school before the end of the school day, he/she must bring a note from a parent/guardian to the attendance office before school. Students must sign out of school in the attendance office before leaving school grounds. Upon returning to school the same day, a student must sign-in at the attendance office. Students and parents are requested to schedule medical appointments when possible after the close of the school day. Students who cannot make these arrangements will be expected to attend school before and/or after such appointments, including Court appearances, as time permits. 

Closed Campus 

Amherst County High School is a closed campus. A closed campus means that once students come on school grounds, they must remain on school grounds until their regular dismissal time. Leaving school grounds at any time without permission is a violation of discipline policy. 

Amherst County High School does not recognize any Senior Skip Days. All “senior skip days” will be unexcused. 

Students 18 Years of Age and Older: 

The following procedures will be implemented relative to attendance of students eighteen years of age and older: 

Regular attendance procedures will be followed. 

Absentee notes must be written by the parent or guardian as long as the student is a resident of the family home and is not an emancipated minor (as shown by satisfactory court order) and is living in the school division not solely for school purposes.