Attendance Procedures

The Importance of School Attendance

Did you know?

  • Starting in preschool and kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school.

  • Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.

  • Missing 10%, or 2 days a month, over the course of the school year, can affect a student’s academic success.

  • Students can still fall behind if they miss just 1 or 2 days every few weeks.

  • Students should miss no more than 9 days of school each year to stay engaged, successful and on track to graduation.

  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.

  • By 9th grade, attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.


What can you do?

  • Set a regular bedtime and morning routine.

  • Talk about the importance of showing up to school every day.

  • Help your student maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Develop backup plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor or another parent.

  • Try to schedule dental and non-Covid-19/Infectious related medical appointments and extended trips when school isn't in session.

  • If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to teachers, school counselors and other parents for advice on how to make your child feel comfortable and excited about learning.

  • If your child must stay home due to illness or quarantine, ask the teacher for resources and ideas to continue learning at home.

(adapted from

Harlem's Attendance Procedures

Attendance is an important factor in achieving academic success. Students who are frequently absent or tardy often miss important information covered in class, fall behind, and/or lose interest in school. As a result, the Harlem School District adheres to the following attendance policy.

Reporting of Absences

If a student will be absent from school, the parent/guardian must telephone the school office within the first hour of the school day on the day of the absence. Parents unable to call during this time may leave a message on the school attendance voicemail. Absences can also be reported electronically through SkyWard Family Access. The parent/guardian must call each day the student is absent unless previous arrangements have been made. Harlem’s automated School Message Center System will attempt to contact the parent/guardian notifying them of the absence. If there is no contact on the day of the absence, the administration will classify the absence as an unexcused absence.

The Five (5) Day Excused Absence Guideline

Students who accumulate more than five (5) days of excused absences must provide proof of the nature of the absence, in the form of a note from the doctor, excuse from school nurse, etc. (see Excused Absences), for the absence to be considered excused. Failure to do so beyond the first five (5) excused absences will result in the absence being considered unexcused. Absences do not need to be consecutive.

Valid reasons for excused absences include illness of the student, injury, unavoidable accident or emergency and anticipated absence with administration approval prior to the absence.

Excused Absences

The following absences will be classified as “Excused” and will not count against the student’s five (5) absences: religious holidays; medical appointments with written proof from doctor; being sent home by the school nurse, funeral for family members; court appearances with written proof from court; extended serious/critical illness of student/family member; other absences as determined by the administration.

Illness at School

If a student becomes ill while at school, they must come to the nurse’s office to contact the parent/guardian.

Release for Appointments

Parents/Guardians are encouraged to make appointments during times that do not conflict with school and instructional time. Students will only be released to parents/ guardians if the parent/guardian has called the school prior to the student being picked up and provided the name of the person to pick up the student. Whoever is picking up the student should provide the school with a photo ID. The procedure for student release listed below must be followed:

Prior to the appointment, the parent should call the school and give the following information:

Name and grade of student

Time of appointment

Type of appointment (Doctor, Dentist, etc.)

Time to be released from school

Approximate time of return to school

On the day of the appointment, students should come to the office and receive a pass in order to be released from class at the designated time. The parent/guardian must sign the student out through the office (K-8). When the student returns (K-12), they must sign in back through the office, with a written note statement from the doctor verifying the appointment. No appointments will be classified as excused without written proof from the doctor, dentist, etc.

Unexcused Absences

All absences not previously classified are considered unexcused absences. Students who accumulate an unexcused absence will receive an attendance letter and may be referred to the truancy intervention programs of the District or Regional Office of Education.

The following are examples of unexcused absences. This is not an all-inclusive list.

    • Lack of ride to school

    • Missing the school bus

    • Oversleeping

    • Parent calls exceeding the 5 excused

    • Participation in non-school sponsored events

    • Personal business

    • Private vehicle breakdown or failure to start

    • Truancy

    • Trips/Vacations

    • Weather


It is not educationally sound to remove your child from school for a trip or vacation. If this occurs, your child misses out on valuable interaction and contact with the teacher and other students. Student attendance days compose only 174 out of 365 days in a calendar year – please utilize the remaining non-attendance days for planning family trips/vacations.

The determination as to whether an absence is excused or unexcused will be made by school administration according to Illinois School Code section 105 ILCS 5/26-2A.