Attendance Procedures

The Importance of School Attendance

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(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.


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.

7:70 Attendance and Truancy Compulsory School Attendance 

This policy applies to individuals who have custody or control of a child: (a) between the ages of six (on or before September 1) and 17 years (unless the child has graduated from high school), or (b) who is enrolled in any of grades kindergarten through 12 in the public school regardless of age. 

Subject to specific requirements in State law, the following children are not required to attend public school: (1) any child attending a private school (including a home school) or parochial school, (2) any child who is physically or mentally unable to attend school (including a pregnant student suffering medical complications as certified by her physician), (3) any child lawfully and necessarily employed, (4) any child over 12 and under 14 years of age while in confirmation classes, (5) any child absent because of religious reasons, including to observe a religious holiday, for religious instruction, or because his or her religion forbids secular activity on a particular day(s) or time of day, and (6) any child 16 years of age or older who is employed and is enrolled in a graduation incentives program. 

The parent/guardian of a student who is enrolled must authorize all absences from school and notify the school in advance or at the time of the student’s absence. A valid cause for absence includes illness (including mental or behavioral health of the student), observance of a religious holiday, death in the immediate family, attendance at a civic event, family emergency, other situations beyond the control of the student as determined by the Board, voting pursuant to policy 7:90, Release During School Hours (10 ILCS 5/7-42 and 5/17-15), other circumstances that cause reasonable concern to the parent/guardian for the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or safety, or other reason as approved by the Superintendent or designee. Students absent for a valid cause may make up missed homework and classwork assignments in a reasonable timeframe. 

Absenteeism and Truancy Program 

The Superintendent or designee shall manage an absenteeism and truancy program in accordance with the School Code and School Board policy. The program shall include but not be limited to: 

1. A protocol for excusing a student from attendance who is necessarily and lawfully employed. The Superintendent or designee is authorized to determine when the student’s absence is justified. 

2. A protocol for excusing a student in grades 6 through 12 from attendance to sound Taps at a military honors funeral held in Illinois for a deceased veteran. 

3. A protocol for excusing a student from attendance on a particular day(s) or at a particular time of day when his/her parent/guardian is an active duty member of the uniformed services and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat-support postings. 

4. A process to telephone, within two hours after the first class, the parents/guardians of students in grade 8 or below who are absent without prior parent/guardian notification. 

5. A process to identify and track students who are truants, chronic or habitual truants, or truant minors as defined in 105 ILCS 5/26-2a. 

6. A description of diagnostic procedures for identifying the cause(s) of a student’s unexcused absenteeism, including interviews with the student, his or her parent(s)/guardian(s), and staff members or other people who may have information about the reasons for the student’s attendance problem. 

7. The identification of supportive services that may be offered to truant, chronically truant, or 7:70 7:70 1 of 3 chronically absent students, including parent-teacher conferences, student and/or family counseling, or information about community agency services. (See Board policy 6:110, Programs for Students At Risk of Academic Failure and/or Dropping Out of School and Graduation Incentives Program.) 

8. A process for the collection and review of chronic absence data and to: a. Determine what systems of support and resources are needed to engage chronically absent students and their families, and b. Encourage the habit of daily attendance and promote success. 

9. Reasonable efforts to provide ongoing professional development to teachers, administrators, Board members, school resource officers, and staff on the appropriate and available supportive services for the promotion of student attendance and engagement. 

10. A process to request the assistance and resources of outside agencies, such as, the juvenile officer of the local police department or the truant office of the appropriate Regional Office of Education, if truancy continues after supportive services have been offered. 

11. A protocol for cooperating with non-District agencies including County or municipal authorities, the Regional Superintendent, truant officers, the Community Truancy Review Board, and a comprehensive community based youth service agency. Any disclosure of school student records must be consistent with Board policy 7:340, Student Records, as well as State and federal law concerning school student records. 

12. An acknowledgement that no punitive action, including out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, or court action, shall be taken against a truant minor for his or her truancy unless available supportive services and other school resources have been provided to the student. 

13. The criteria to determine whether a student’s non-attendance is due to extraordinary circumstances shall include economic or medical necessity or family hardship and such other criteria that the Superintendent believes qualifies. [For high school and unit districts only] 

14. A process for a 17-year-old resident to participate in the District’s various programs and resources for truants. The student must provide documentation of his/her dropout status for the previous six months. A request from an individual 19 years of age or older to re-enroll after having dropped out of school is handled according to provisions in 7:50, School Admissions and Student Transfers To and From Non-District Schools. 

15. A process for the temporary exclusion of a student 17 years of age or older for failing to meet minimum attendance standards according to provisions in State law. A parent/guardian has the right to appeal a decision to exclude a student. 


Pursuant to State law and policy 2:240, Board Policy Development, the Board updates this policy at least once every two years. The Superintendent or designee shall assist the Board with its update.