The Watchung Borough Board of Education requires students enrolled in Watchung Borough schools to attend school regularly in accordance with the laws of the state. The consistent contact with students in the classroom with one another and their participation in a well-planned instructional activity under the direction of our faculty is vital to our students’ success. Parents are encouraged to work in partnership with their children and school to minimize excessive or unnecessary absenteeism.
The Watchung Borough Board of Education recognizes its responsibility to provide a thorough and efficient education for every student within the district in keeping with the prevailing laws of the State of New Jersey. In order for administrators and teachers to successfully fulfill their responsibilities to students, it is essential that all students accept their responsibility to attend school as scheduled and that parents/guardians support and reinforce their child’s regular attendance. To conform to state regulations, school districts define “excused” and “unexcused” absences as:
An “excused absence” is a student’s absence from school for a full day or 4+ hours of a day for one or more of the following reasons.
Professional appointments that cannot be scheduled during non-school hours (health care provider documentation),
Court appearance (court notice to appear),
Family illness or death,
New Jersey state-approved religious holidays pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A: 36:14 and Take Your Child to Work Day.
Where appropriate, when consistent with Individualized Education Programs,
Suspension from school.
An “unexcused absence” is a student’s absence for all or part of a school day for any reason other than those listed above. Though a student may be absent with parental approval for reasons other than those listed above, the absence will be defined as verified but “unexcused.” It is also recognized that the parents/guardians may not always take their child to the doctor every time he/she is sick. The district assumes that the “unexcused” absences will be used when it is necessary to miss school and documentation cannot be provided. “Unexcused” absences are not considered truancy unless the student is absent without parental consent.
Truancy is a student’s absence from all or a part of the school day without the knowledge of the student’s parent/guardian. A pupil will also be considered truant if he/she:
Leaves school without permission when school is still in session,
Leaves class because of illness and does not report to the school nurse, or
Is present in school but is absent from class without approval. Such truancy from class is a “class cut”
Notice to School of Student Absence
Parents should report a student's absence using the attendance line or Parent Portal as early as possible. This does not “excuse” an absence but informs the school that your child is absent with your knowledge and is not truant. The student’s absence will be deemed either “excused” or “unexcused” based upon the documentation explaining the reason for the absence (s) that is presented to the Main Office by the student following their return to school. The school will make every effort to contact parents/guardians of any student who is absent for whom a notification was not received.
Readmission to School After an Absence
· A student returning from an absence of any length of time must provide a written statement to the Principal or designee that is dated and signed by the parent or adult student listing the reason for the absence.
· A student who has been absent by reason of having or being suspected of having a communicable disease may be required to present to the school nurse written evidence of being free of a communicable disease.
· The Superintendent of Schools or designee may require a student who has been absent from school due to a suspension or other reason concerning the student’s conduct to receive a medical examination by a physician regarding the student’s physical and/or mental fitness to return to school.
· The Superintendent or designee will notify the student’s parent of the specific requirements of the medical examination prior to the student’s return to school.
School Response to Unexcused Absences
6A:16-7.6, school staff responses for unexcused absences are as follows:
For up to four cumulative unexcused absences, the school district shall: make a reasonable attempt to notify the student’s parents of each unexcused absence prior to the start of the following school day; make a reasonable attempt to determine the cause of the unexcused absence, including through contact with the student’s parents; identify in consultation with the student’s parents needed action designed to address patterns of unexcused absences, if any, and to have the child return to school and maintain regular attendance; proceed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 9:6-1 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-10, if a potential missing or an abused child situation is detected; and cooperate with law enforcement and other authorities and agencies, as appropriate.
For between five and nine cumulative unexcused absences, the school district shall: make a reasonable attempt to notify the student’s parents of each unexcused absence prior to the start of the following school day; make a reasonable attempt to determine the cause of the unexcused absence, including through contact with the student’s parents; evaluate the appropriateness of prior action taken; develop an action plan to establish outcomes based upon the student’s patterns of unexcused absences and to specify the interventions for supporting the student’s return to school and regular attendance, which may include any or all of the following: refer or consult with the building’s intervention and referral services team (I&RS, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8; conduct testing, assessments, or evaluations of the student’s academic, behavioral, and health needs; consider an alternate educational placement; make a referral to or coordinate with a community-based social and health provider agency or other community resource; refer to a court or a court program; proceed in accordance with N.J.S.A.9:6-1 et. Seq. and N.J.A.C.6A:16-10, if a potentially missing or child abuse situation is detected: and engage the student’s family. Cooperate with law enforcement and other authorities and agencies, as appropriate.
For cumulative unexcused absences of 10 or more, a student, between the ages of six and 16, is truant, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25, and the school district shall: make a determination regarding the need for a court referral for the truancy; continue to consult with the parent and the involved agencies to support the student’s return to school and regular attendance; cooperate with law enforcement and other authorities and agencies, as appropriate; and proceed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:38-28 through 31, Article 3B, Compelling Attendance at School, and other applicable State and Federal statutes, as required; and a court referral may be made as follows: when unexcused absences are determined by school officials to be violations of the compulsory education law, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25, and the district board of education’s policies, the parent may be referred to municipal court; a written report of the actions the school has taken regarding the student’s attendance shall be forwarded to the municipal court; or when there is evidence of a juvenile-family crisis, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-22.g, the student may be referred to Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part; a written report of the actions the school has taken regarding the student’s attendance shall be forwarded to the juvenile-family crisis intervention unit.
For a student with a disability, the attendance plan and its punitive and remedial procedures shall be applied, where applicable, in accordance with the student’s individualized education program, pursuant to 20 U.S.C 1400 et seq., the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; the procedural protections set forth in N.J.A.C. 6A:14; accommodation plan under 29 U.S.C. 794 and 705(20; and individualized healthcare plan and individualized emergency healthcare plan, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-2.3(b)5xii.