Attendance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Esperanza Cyber Charter School makes every attempt to help your child attend school. When a child does not attend school, or misses a live lesson an automatic phone call is delivered to phone numbers listed on file notifying the parent/guardian that the student(s) was absent. To help you better understand your responsibilities and how the school is accountable for reporting attendance and truancy the following FAQ’s have been developed.
Who must attend school in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania all children of “compulsory school age” must attend school. Compulsory school age refers to the period of a child’s life from the time the child enters school as a beginner, which may be no later than at the age of 6 years, until the age of 18 or graduation from a high school, whichever occurs first. As of February 19, 2013, in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Jennifer Ann Kerstetter, compulsory attendance law applies to kindergarten students. Source: Pennsylvania School Code, Chapter 22, Section 11.13
“Attend school” means that the child must go to a regular public school, a charter school, a licensed private or religious school, or an approved homeschooling program.
Who must make sure a child attends school?
The person(s) who are caring for the child-usually the child’s parent(s), but sometimes a guardian, relative, or foster parent are legally responsible for making sure that the child attends school.
How is truancy defined by the new law?
To improve school attendance and deter truancy new legislation was signed into law on November 3, 2016. The new law clearly defines truancy as three (3) or more school days of unexcused absence during the current school year for a child subject to compulsory school laws.
What happens if my child continues to be truant after receiving the notice of the third unexcused absence?
If a child continues to be truant after receiving notification of the third unexcused absence in writing, the family will be invited to an attendance improvement conference (AIC) to create an Individual Attendance Improvement Plan.
What does habitually truant mean?
New legislation signed into law on November 3, 2016 clearly defines habitual truancy as six (6) or more school days of unexcused absence during the current school year for a child subject to compulsory school laws.
What are the consequences if my child becomes habitually truant?
Per the new legislation signed into law on November 3, 2016, the school is required to hold an attendance improvement conference (AIC) and create an Individual Attendance Improvement Plan to help your student overcome barriers to attendance.
Schools are obligated to take additional steps after the attendance improvement conference is completed to address truancy. These actions depend on whether your child is under fifteen or is fifteen or older. These actions may include referrals to (1) a school-based or a community-based attendance improvement program or (2) the local children and youth agency (if under the age of 15) or a citation is filed against the student or parent in magisterial district court (if 15 years or older).
Who is the person in charge of monitoring school attendance?
The Attendance Department manages the school attendance. They can be reached by calling the school: 215-967-9703 or the following numbers:
- Attendance and Enrollment Manager : 267-907-6777
- K-8 Attendance Specialist: 215-365-9066
- 9-12 Attendance Specialist: 445-245-7235
When leaving a voicemail please be sure to include your full name, phone number and reason for your call.
Esperanza Cyber Charter School’s attendance policy may allow an absence to be excused for the following reasons:
- Death of a family member ( Memorial Card or Funeral documentation needs to be provided)
- Illness ( A written note can be used or a Doctor’s letter must be provided)
- Observance of a religious holiday not noted on the school calendar
- Medical or dental appointments that cannot be scheduled after school hours (A doctor’s note must be submitted for any appointment)
- Authorized school activities
- Educational travel (up to 5 days a year) with prior approval
What are unexcused absences at Esperanza Cyber Charter School?
Absences are generally NOT excused for the following reasons:
- Doing errands
- Job hunting
- Vacation During School Days – Written notes will no longer be used for Vacation time.
- Working, if not approved by the school as following the law
- Can’t login, no internet, lost school-loaned device
- An absence that is not accompanied by an excuse note
*Parents or Guardians can provide a written note to excuse their students. They can provide up to 8 Written Notes per School year. (ex: My child is not feeling well. I would like to excuse them for the day.) *
How do I notify the school of an absence?
- Daily attendance is taken each day during Homeroom. If your student is absent send an email to the corresponding attendance email with the name of the student, grade and reason for the absence. Please attach any documentation that might be needed. Below please find the 3 attendance emails:
Grades K-5: email@example.com
Grades 6-8: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grades 9-12: email@example.com
- You may send excuse notes through our note submission form using the QR code below:
- You may send a Talking Points message.
- You can bring the note in, or you can mail the note to Esperanza Cyber Charter School, Attention: Attendance Department, 4261 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140
- The student must email all of their teachers to let them know they will be absent. The student is not excused from school assignments and should plan to make up any work missed.
When must an excused note be submitted?
We encourage guardians to submit an excuse note as soon as possible. If an excuse note is not received, the absence will be considered unexcused. School personnel often remind students to turn in an excuse note. If a student does not turn in an excuse, and the student has been referred to the magistrate for habitual truancy, the magistrate’s office does not consider a student’s or parent’s/guardian’s forgetfulness a valid excuse. According to attendance law, the parent is ultimately responsible for providing the excuse.
We have planned a family vacation. Can these days be excused?
We do not excuse family vacation during the school year. Written notes can no longer be used to excuse family vacation. If the reason for travel is due to a family emergency a Principal’s approval is needed. If granted the guardian may use their written notes to excuse the student.
Per the ECCS attendance policy, Students may be excused up to a total of five (5) school days per school year for educational tours and trips. Requests for excusal should be submitted at least five (5) school days before the requested dates of departure. It will be your child’s responsibility to get assignments from his/her teachers before he/she leaves.
Educational trip requests scheduled for students during PSSA or Keystone exams times will not be approved.
My child did not attend Homeroom, but went to all other classes. Will they be considered absent for the day?
Each week the attendance department checks every student’s attendance. If your student misses Homeroom but attends 55% or more of their classes their daily attendance will be updated to late instead of absent.
Can I send a Written Note to excuse my child for early dismissal?
Written notes can only be used if the student was absent in Homeroom and for more than 55% of their classes. To excuse early dismissal satisfactory documentation must be provided ex: Doctor’s note.
Why am I receiving letters regarding unexcused absences?
To keep parents informed of their child’s attendance at school, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recommended additional steps for schools to follow when truancy becomes an issue. The objective of these letters is a preventative step to avoid the consequences associated with truancy that may include truancy fines. If you feel an absence has been recorded incorrectly, you should immediately contact the school and try to resolve the problem.
What happens if my child does not participate in the school-based or community-based attendance improvement program and continues to be truant?
The child may be referred to the CYS agency and a citation may be filed against the student or parent in magisterial district court. If the child reaches ten (10) consecutive absences, he or she is immediately withdrawn from the school.
I just received a notice from the District Magistrate that I’ve been fined for truancy. What does this mean?
Fines and cost for truancy can be very expensive for parents and students. New truancy legislation increased the penalties for truancy of all students. Penalties for truancy may include fines as high as $750/offense plus court costs and the suspension of driving privilege for the student. Truancy issues are avoided by being in school, knowing and understanding attendance laws, and working with your school to improve attendance issues.
If my child is not of compulsory school age, why must I still provide an excuse?
Even if your child is not of compulsory school age, his/her attendance is still recorded. Any absence without proper excuse will be considered unexcused.