-Attendance Matters-

Attendance Matters
Posted on 10/25/2019

According to research and data supplied by Attendance Works, more than 8 million students across the country miss enough school to put them academically at risk, and children living in poverty are 2-3 times more likely to be chronically absent. While a majority of students in the School District of the Menomonie Area (SDMA) attend school on a regular basis, there are a number of students in our community missing too much school.

It might seem obvious that children miss out on academic learning opportunities when they are not in school, but there are also many other important services and social opportunities lost when students are absent. With only 175 student days scheduled during the school year, missing just two days each month eclipses what is considered to be a level of chronic absence.

Chronic absence occurs when a child misses 10 percent or more of school days due to absence for any reason- excused, unexcused, and suspensions. While there are not many students in the SDMA reaching the chronic threshold by simply skipping school, it is concerning to see how many classes some children are missing for appointments, vacations, or other reasons. Nobody in the SDMA wants parents to send their children to school when they are ill, but there is a big difference between having an illness, being tired, having a slight headache, or simply wanting a day off.

For the most part, it is up to the family to determine whether or not a child should attend school on a particular day. While attendance requirements at school are governed by state law, principals typically are able to approve parental/guardian requests for an excused absence as long as required notification and proper justification is provided. In the event that required notification and proper justification for a student absence is not provided (or if the number of absences eclipses state requirements), the student is considered unexcused and truant. Truancy refers to any particular absence when a student misses school for an unexcused reason and may result in disciplinary measures. In addition to possible consequences at school (ie. loss of grades and/or progressive disciplinary measures), a relatively new city ordinance also allows for citations up to $500 to be issued to the student and/or family.

Everyone in the School District of the Menomonie Area wants to encourage children to attend school. The school calendar includes several breaks and vacation days for students, and unlike some school districts, the SDMA calendar even provides a week-long spring break in March. For the good of the children in our community, it is requested that families prioritize attendance at school and work to plan appointments and activities around school schedules as much as possible.

Should school families or community stakeholders have any questions or concerns related to student attendance at school, I invite you to contact the administration at your child’s school, or visit me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue. More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (www.sdmaonline.com), and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sdmaonline).