October 14, 2005
In Columbia County, the school attendance policy is a hot topic. The county’s new state-mandated attendance policy for this year allows for only two excused absences. But this short notice is a problem for some families who are planning vacations. News 12 is on your side with how the Department of Education is trying to make this policy work for families and the school system.
The new attendance policy that the state required schools to put in place this year have caught some parents off guard. Fort Gordon fire fighter Charles Piug is surprised that the June policy will penalize him up to $100 if his children have more than three unexcused absences.
“I have to schedule my vacation around my child’s vacation?” Piug said.
Dr. Sandra Carraway with the Columbia County Department of Education says they modified Columbia County’s policy to help parents like Charles.
“Anytime you come up with something new, there are always bumps in the road,” Carraway said.
A note went out to parents several days ago that says this year, any travel plans made before the policy went in to place, vacation dates that depend on the parent’s seniority, and youth group trips that were already scheduled may be allowed with approval from the board. Some permanent changes are exceptions for new families, military vacations and special family occasions.
The new policy has cut unexcused absences in half in some schools. Under No Child Left Behind, some schools are judged by average daily attendance. These exceptions are good news for Charles Puig.
“I’m competing with other employees for vacation time, and that makes it very difficult,” Puig said.
But he has no need to worry with the new exceptions. Parents should keep in mind that students will need a doctor’s note after five absences due to illness for it to be excused.
Columbia County’s attendance policy and the new changes are at ccboe.net. Click on “Modifications to Attendance Protocol” or “Changes to Student Attendance.”