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Pupil Services » Truancy FAQ's

Truancy FAQ's

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s),

As the newly appointed attendance officer for the Red Lion Area School District, I have repeatedly come in contact with parents/guardians and students who express confusion about Pennsylvania attendance procedures and district attendance policies.  With a better understanding of these regulations, one can make informed decisions and avoid many of the issues that result from truancy.

The Red Lion Area School District enforces the Student Compulsory Attendance and Truancy Elimination Plan that was passed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on August 8, 2006 (Basic Education Circular (BEC) 24 P.S. 13-1327). The Department of Education and all school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are obligated to comply with State and Federal requirements for student attendance and truancy and maintain attendance records for all students.

Please review the FAQs and feel free to contact me if you have further questions regarding attendance.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Katharine S. Diorio
Attendance Officer, RLASD
717-244-5550
dioriok@rlasd.net

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who is the RLASD Attendance Officer? What does an Attendance Officer do?

The RLASD attendance officer is Mrs. Katharine Diorio. You can reach her at 717-244-5550 X303. Please be sure to leave a message including your name and phone number. Mrs. Diorio’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
  • Identify truant students
  • Educate families on the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Public School Code of 1949 pertaining to compulsory school attendance
  • Enforce compulsory attendance laws and RLASD attendance policies
  • Assist and support parents in solving truancy problems.

What does compulsory attendance mean?
 
Compulsory school age refers to the period of a child’s life from the time the child enters school as a beginner, which may be no later than at the age of 8 years, until the age of 17 or graduation from a high school, whichever occurs first.  As of February 19, 2013 in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Jennifer Ann Kerstetter, compulsory attendance law applies to kindergarten students.

What are excused absences?
  • Death in the student’s immediate family
  • Danger to health from serious exposure
  • Quarantine
  • Recovery from accident
  • Required court attendance
  • Illness (A doctor’s note is required for a student absence of 5 days or longer)
  • Observance of a religious holiday
  • Medical reasons such as a doctor’s appointment
 
What are unexcused absences?
  • Babysitting
  • Shopping
  • Doing errands
  • Oversleeping
  • Job hunting
  • Transportation issues/Missing the bus
  • An absence that is not accompanied by an excuse

How many days do I have to turn in an excuse after my child returns to school?
 
A written excuse must be received on or before the third day after the last day of school missed. If an excuse is not received, the absence will be considered unexcused. Teachers and attendance secretaries often remind students to turn in an excuse note. If a student does not turn in an excuse, the magistrate’s office does not consider a student’s forgetfulness a valid excuse. According to attendance law, the parent is ultimately responsible for providing the excuse. If your student tends to leave his/her excuse in a backpack, please follow-up with a phone call to the school office to make sure it was received.

Do I need to send an excuse when the school nurse or administrator sends my child home?

When the school requests that your child leave due to illness or injury, you do not need to send an excuse provided your child returns to school the next school day.
  • If your child missed additional days of school after being sent home, you will need to provide an excuse.
  • If your child is currently required to provide a doctor’s note and misses additional days of school after being sent home, you will need to provide a note from your child’s physician.

We have planned a family vacation. Can these days be excused?

Students may be excused up to a total of five (5) school days per school year for educational tours and trips.  Requests for excusal should be submitted at least five (5) school days before the requested dates of departure. It will be your child’s responsibility to get assignments from his/her teachers before he/she leaves.  Educational trip requests scheduled for students in grades 3-6 during PSSA times will not be approved.

Why am I receiving letters regarding unlawful absences?

In an effort to keep parents informed of their child’s attendance at school, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recommended additional steps for schools to follow when truancy becomes an issue. The objective of these letters is a preventative step to assist your student from being placed on doctor’s note (PCO) or from receiving truancy fines.  If you feel an absence has been recorded incorrectly, you should immediately contact the school and try to resolve the problem.
 
Attendance Letters Doctor’s Note Warning Letter Doctor’s Note Letter Unlawful Absence Warning Letter Official Notice Letter
District Procedures Sent on the 7th day of absence, not including absences covered by a doctor’s note or an educational trip. Sent on the 10th day of absence, not including absences covered by doctor’s notes or an educational trip. All future absences from school will require a doctor’s note. Sent after 1st, 2nd,  and 3rd unexcused absences due to lack of excuse note or doctor’s note. States that 4th unexcused absence, and all thereafter, will be filed with the District Magistrate.
 I received a Physician Certificate Letter (PCO). Does my child need to be seen by a doctor in order to avoid an unlawful absence? What happens if I can not get an appointment?

Yes. If your child is required to bring a doctor’s note for future absences, you must make an appointment with your doctor. Calling the doctor and asking for an excuse will not be accepted. If you are unable to make an appointment, you might want to try one of the following options:
  • Call the school attendance secretary to discuss the problem.
  • Verify from the doctor’s office that you were unable to make an appointment that day, but have secured an appointment as soon as their schedule permits.
 
My child is an honor roll student. Does this make them exempt from attendance letters?

Honor roll students and those with passing grades are still required to adhere to the law. A student will not be exempt from the attendance law because they do well in their academics.

I just received a notice from the District Magistrate that I’ve been fined for truancy. What does this mean?

Fines and cost for truancy can be very expensive for parents and students. Act 29 amended Section 1333 of the School Code. It imposed stiffer penalties for truancy of all students. Penalties for truancy may include fines as high as $300 plus court costs and the suspension of driving privilege for the student. Students with high rates of truancy will be referred to Children and Youth Services. Truancy issues are avoided by being in school, knowing and understanding attendance laws, and working with your school to improve attendance issues.

If my child is not of compulsory school age, why must I still provide an excuse?

Even if your child is not of compulsory school age, his/her attendance is still recorded. Any absence without proper excuse will be considered unexcused.