Pupil absence notification program
G.L. c. 76 has been amended to include section 1B, which requires each school committee to establish a pupil absence notification program in each of its schools. Under this provision, the program must ensure that the school notifies a parent or guardian if the student was absent and the parent has not notified the school of the absence within 3 days of the absence.
In addition, the school committee must have a policy of notifying the parent or guardian of a student who has:
- missed 2 or more periods unexcused over at least 5 days in a school year, or
- missed 5 or more school days unexcused in a school year.
Under the policy, the principal, headmaster, or designee must make reasonable efforts to meet with the parent or guardian of a student who has 5 or more unexcused absences to develop an action plan for student attendance as prescribed in the statute.
The statutory language directing the "school committee of each city, town or regional school district" to establish a pupil absence notification program limits the requirement to school committees and the public schools within their jurisdiction. The language does not place the same obligation on charter schools, which are governed by a board of trustees. It is the only new requirement discussed in Section I of this memorandum that applies only to districts and not charter schools. Even though the provision does not specifically apply to charter schools, we encourage charter schools to adopt some kind of pupil absence notification program as a matter of good educational practice.