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Attendance and Truancy

Families, with the support of teachers and schools, help students achieve strong attendance records and lay a solid foundation for future success in school and after graduation.

Family Involvement

Families can help children achieve good attendance and stay on track at every grade level by:

  • Understanding GCSC attendance expectations
  • Making sure their child is prepared for the school day
  • Notifying the school when their child stays home

On-Time Arrival

Arriving at school on time can make the entire day run smoother for students. When students are late, they can feel rushed, frustrated, and behind. 

  • For elementary school students, being on time means that when the bell rings, students are in line with their class.
  • For high school students, being on time means that when the bell rings, students are in their classroom seats.

Students who are tardy must obtain proper documentation from the school office before proceeding to class.

School Attendance Procedures

  • Elementary schools take attendance during the first hour of the school day.
  • If a parent has not notified the school of a child’s absence, a school representative will phone the home of the student during the second hour of the school day.
  • GCSC District absentee robocaller automatically phones the home of every absent elementary student, even if their parent/guardian has previously informed the school of the absence
  • High schools take attendance during each class, but they are not required to call the home of absent students.

Family Vacations

Families can plan vacation travel and other commitments during holidays and on other non-attendance dates. For non-attendance dates during the school year, view the District Calendar.

Why Attendance Matters

Students who attend school regularly feel more connected to their school community and are more engaged in the learning process. As a result, they are more likely to earn better grades and test scores, and they have greater chances of graduating and achieving postsecondary success.

It is important to start setting good attendance habits in the child’s first year in school. Preschoolers who are chronically absent are likely to continue to be chronically absent as they get older in school.

From pre-K through high school, poor attendance can negatively affect students socially and emotionally:

  • They feel out of place
  • They fall behind in their work
  • They miss important opportunities that can inspire their future
  • They have a hard time working with others
  • They don’t see how school is connected to their future success

Students who are chronically absent or truant are more likely to have low grades and test scores, and they are less likely to be on track for high school graduation. Each week of absence per semester in ninth grade lowers the likelihood of graduating by 25 percentage points.

Attendance Requirements

From age 6 until reaching age 17, a child who lives in Indiana must be enrolled and attend school. Once a child enrolls, even if they are younger than 6 or older than 17, they must go to school regularly.

GCSC Attendance Goals

GCSC has set ambitious but realistic district-wide attendance goals: 

  • For schools under 95%, increase attendance to 95%
  • Decrease the chronic truancy rate at the district, network, and school levels
  • Decrease the chronic absence rate at the district, network, and school levels

School and Network Attendance Resources

Gary Schools expect students to attend school everyday and to arrive on time. 

Absence Forms

  • Reason for Absence Note ENGLISH  

Stakeholder Roles

The district works with families, teachers, schools, networks, and community groups to provide support and resources to help students achieve good attendance and achieve their academic potential.

Gary Schools strives to support students and their specific needs. By working together with these stakeholders, we can increase student attendance and decrease chronic absenteeism and chronic truancy. 

Student

  • Come to school everyday
  • Be on-time for school and for your classes
  • Come prepared to learn
  • Be ready to learn
  • Talk to your teachers
  • Stay informed
  • Ask for help
  • Be a positive peer
  • Know you are our number one priority

Student's Family

  • Get your student(s) to school every day
  • Get your student(s) to school on-time
  • Check that your student(s) are prepared
  • Encourage your student(s) to come ready to learn
  • Ask questions and know your student(s)’s school
  • Stay informed with what’s happening with your student(s) and their school experience
  • Attend important events at your student(s)’ school
  • Check Parent Portal regularly to stay updated on your student(s)’s progress
  • Know you are our partner in your student(s) success

Teacher

  • Expect your students every day
  • Expect your students to be on time every day
  • Have structures in place to respond to tardies, absence, and good attendance
  • Be excited about the learning that will happen each day
  • Build positive relationships with students and their families that promote student accountability (behavior, attendance, academics)
  • Use your school as a support to handle attendance hurdles
  • Take action when students are tardy or absent
  • Update Gradebook regularly and on time so families can stay informed as to their student’s attendance and grades
  • Know you are our partner in your student(s) success

School

  • Be prepared to greet students everyday
  • Start the school day on time
  • Let no distractions take the school off the goal of learning
  • Ensure there are procedures and protocols for all attendance needs, including but exclusively, tardies, cuts, truancy, absences
  • Maintain and be consistent about discipline procedures so student behavior is managed beyond suspensions
  • Have a clear, consistent and public attendance policy
  • Reinforce the attendance policy regularly and apply it consistently
  • Support teachers with resources for struggling students with attendance issues
  • Provide engaging clubs, teams, and activities that appeal to multiple student interests
  • Establish a viable attendance team to respond to attendance needs, and to be proactive on data trends
  • Review and share data for timely evidence-based decision-making

Network

  • Let no distractions take the school off the goal of learning
  • Ensure there are procedures and protocols for all attendance needs, including but not exclusively, tardies, cuts, truancy, absences for your schools
  • Ensure that fair and consistent discipline procedures exist and are supported at your schools so student behavior is managed beyond suspensions
  • Emphasize a culture of communication for maximizing student attendance
  • Reinforce it regularly, and apply it consistently
  • Support schools with resources
  • Guide and train attendance teams to respond to attendance needs, and to be proactive around data trends
  • Ensure your schools review and share data for evidence based decision making
  • Review data and communicate with Network schools to support strategy and action development
  •  

Community

  • Be prepared to support all students and their efforts to get to school
  • Unite with the purpose of having all students be successful and present at their neighborhood school
  • Help support efforts to have no distractions that take the school away from the goal of learning
  • Be proactive in the community about helping neighbors get students to school
  • Report concerns and offer solutions to support student growth
  • Partner with the schools and neighborhood families to create a culture of attendance in and out of the school building
  • Step forward and provide opportunities for students to be rewarded for their success

District

  • Let no distractions take the network off the goal of learning
  • Ensure that all networks have established attendance procedures and protocols for all schools
  • Ensure that all networks have established fair and consistent discipline procedures and that said procedures are supported so student behavior is managed beyond suspensions
  • Emphasize a culture of communication for maximizing student attendance
  • Review data and communicate with networks to support strategy and action development
  • Support schools with resources and streamline access to said resources
  • Guide and train attendance teams to respond to attendance needs, and to be proactive around data trends
  • Ensure networks and schools review and use data for evidence based decision making
  • Monitor and ensure all stakeholders are held accountable

City

  • Let no distractions take the schools off the goal of learning
  • Support a culture of communication for maximizing student attendance
  • Promote interagency cooperation to maximize student, family, and community engagement in public schools
  • Support schools with resources and city services
  • Partner with the district to streamline processes to best serve students and their families
  • Monitor and ensure all stakeholders are held accountable

Attendance Terms to Know

This glossary provides an explanation of basic terms relating to CPS attendance and truancy policy and practices.

Absence note: A paper note providing a valid reason for the student’s absence must be submitted to the school for the absence to be considered excused

Attendance rate: Percentage of days present out of total days enrolled; attendance rate includes both excused and unexcused absences

Truant: A student with one or more unexcused absences

Chronic absentee: A student with 18 or more excused or unexcused absences (10 percent or more of days enrolled)

Chronic truant: A student with 9 or more unexcused absences for the school year (5 percent or more of days enrolled)

Excused absence: Students’ absences are considered as excused absences when they take place for one of the following reasons:

  • Student illness
  • Observance of a religious holiday (absence note required)
  • Death in the immediate family
  • Family emergency
  • Circumstances which cause reasonable concern to the parent for their child’s safety or health (must be approved by the principal)
  • Other situations beyond the control of the student (as determined by principal)

Unexcused absence: A student absence that is not for one of the six valid reasons is deemed an unexcused absence: 

  • An unexcused absence for all or part of a school day by a student in grades K through 12 is deemed a truant absence and the student is designated a truant student
  • A truant absence by a grade 9 through 12 student is referred to as a “cut”
  • A chronic truant is a K through 12 student who has 9 or more full-day unexcused absences for the school year