Attendance Expectations Skip to main content

Attendance Expectations

It is imperative that all children between the ages of 6 and 16 attend school regularly, on time and for the full day, in accordance with (O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1). Excessive student absences, whether excused or unexcused, can be an early warning sign of poor academic achievement and can put a child at risk to drop out of school. A child shall not be absent from school or from any class or other required school hours except for illness, other providential cause, or with written permission from a teacher, principal, or their duly authorized school official.  No student shall encourage, urge or counsel other students to violate Georgia’s compulsory school attendance law.

A. Absences are recorded as either excused or unexcused.

  1. Written Excuse from Parent/Guardian Required - Parents/guardians must submit a signed, written excuse for all absences.
    1. The excuse must specifically state the date(s) and reason for the absence. 
    2. After a student incurs the fifth absence, further documentation or a physicians’ excuse may be required. 
    3. All excuses are evaluated by a principal or a designee to determine if the absence is excused, unexcused, or pre-approved.  
    4. In order for any absence to be considered as excused, the student must present a written excuse within five school days after returning to school. 
  2. Perfect Attendance Awards - To have perfect attendance, a student shall have no absences, tardies, or early dismissals.
  3. Make-up Work - Students shall be permitted to make up any work missed during an excused absence. Work missed due to an unexcused absence may be made up at the discretion of the principal or principal's designee. 
  4. Out-of-School Suspensions - Absences due to out-of-school suspensions are recorded as an excused absence.
  5. Absences which are considered excused - Georgia law and State Board of Education policies allow absences to be recorded as excused for the following reasons: 
    1. Personal illness or when attendance in school would endanger the student's health or the health of others;
    2. A serious illness or death in a student's immediate family that necessitates absences from school;
    3. Celebrating special, recognized religious holidays observed by their faith, necessitating absence from school;
    4. A court order or an order by a governmental agency, including pre-induction physical examinations for service in the armed forces, mandating absence from school;
    5. Conditions rendering school attendance impossible or hazardous to student health or safety; 
    6. One day to register or vote in public election;
    7. Parent being called to duty for or is on leave from overseas deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting (up to five days);
    8. Attendance at military affairs sponsored events (up to five days), provided the student provides documentation prior to absence from:
      1. A provider of care at or sponsored by a medical facility of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; or
      2. An event sponsored by a corporation exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Service.
    9. Students in grades 9-12 who visit prospective colleges, up to a maximum of five (5) days per year if the student receives approval from school administrators prior to the visitation.

B. Absences Counted as Present 

  1. Pages for the Georgia General Assembly - Students are recorded as present (not absent) when they serve as pages of the Georgia General Assembly. Documentation is required.

C. Attendance Support Teams

Each school has an attendance support team who focuses on prevention and early intervention of attendance problems. The team may include school administrators, counselors, social workers, and other school staff. Preventative strategies may include efforts to provide a safe and positive environment, relevant and engaging learning experiences, and school activities that develop a sense of connection. 

In addition to these strategies, the attendance support team may also provide communication about attendance to the parent in the form of telephone calls, letters, home visits, and e-mail.  The purpose of this communication is to inform parents that their child could be at risk for decreased school performance.  

  1. The school sends an attendance letter to the parent/guardian upon the sixth, 12th and 18th absences.  
  2. The school may invite the parent/guardian to a meeting if a 12th absence occurs. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss attendance, create a plan to improve attendance and offer supportive services, if needed. Attendance is monitored weekly by the attendance support team. If the student’s attendance improves, no further action is taken
  3. The school may invite the parent/guardian to a second meeting if an 18th absence occurs. At this meeting, the plan is reviewed and adjusted to ensure the absences decrease.  
  4. If attendance does not improve after a second meeting, the school system may refer the attendance issue to the Bulloch County Magistrate Court or other court, the Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services, or other supportive agencies. In addition, if unexcused absences continue, possible consequences may apply to the parent or guardian pursuant to O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1:
    1. $25-100 fine per unexcused absence
    2. Imprisonment not to exceed 30 days
    3. Community service
    4. Any combination of the above consequences

D. Attendance Events for Hardship, School Choice and Out-Of-Zone Students

This information is for students who gained entrance into schools outside of their attendance zones via the former hardship application procedure, HB 251 School Choice, SB 10 Special Education School Choice, as well as students who move outside of their school zone during the course of the year.

  1. Schools will use attendance events to determine if students will be moved back to their home attendance zone school. Attendance events are defined as unexcused tardies, unexcused absences, early dismissals, and late afternoon pickups. Tardies at the middle school and high school level will be determined by first period tardies.
  2. Once a student reaches 12 attendance events, the principal has the discretion to move the student back to his/her home attendance zone school. 
  3. On all documents which the parent/guardian handles in the process (HB 251 application, SB 10 application, letter of approval for transfer by HB 251 or SB 10), a paragraph regarding this protocol is clearly stated.
  4. Schools are encouraged to send a warning letter, call, email, or notice at attendance event number seven.  Since the protocol is on all school choice/transfer applications and all school choice/transfer approval letters, this notice would actually be the third one issued to the parent/guardian.