Regular attendance provides students the opportunity to acquire specific skills, and meet course goals and objectives that may not otherwise be possible if not in attendance. Many integral learning activities, including class discussions, laboratory experiments, field trips, direct instruction, and guest speakers cannot be simulated or replicated with bookwork. Therefore, the Seminole County Public Schools has adopted attendance policies for elementary, middle and high schools to encourage honest, accurate, and consistent adherence by all students, parents, teachers, and administrators. These policies outline what qualifies as an excused absence and unexcused absence, and provide guidelines for the make up of work missed due to an absence.
Florida Statute 1003.21 establishes that regular school attendance is required of ALL students enrolled in public school. This statute also points out that only those students who have attained the age of 16 years and have filed a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment are not subject to compulsory school attendance laws. The declaration to terminate school enrollment must be signed by both the student and the student’s parent. This declaration requires the student and parent to acknowledge that terminating enrollment is likely to reduce the student’s earning potential or career opportunities in the future.
Parents are responsible for the attendance of their children within the compulsory attendance age (Florida Statute 1003.24). Whenever a student of compulsory school attendance age is absent without the permission of the person in charge of the school, the parent of the student will, as soon as practical after learning of the absence, report and explain the cause of such absence to the appropriate school personnel.
Florida Statute 1003.27 provides that a parent or legal guardian who refuses or fails to have a child under his or her control attend school regularly, is subject to the charge of a second degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided by law. A student who accumulates 15 or more unexcused absences within 90 days with or without the knowledge or consent of the student’s parent shall be classified as a habitual truant. If a student becomes a habitual truant, the school administration shall refer matters to the Legal Services Department. Thereafter, the Superintendent may file a truancy petition with the circuit court. The Superintendent also may choose to refer a truancy matters to the State Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution of the parent.
Students who are married and students who are pregnant shall not be prohibited from attending school. These students and students who are parents shall receive the same educational instruction, or its equivalent, as other students, but may voluntarily be assigned to a class or program suited to their special needs. Consistent with Florida Statute 1003.54, pregnant or parenting teens shall be entitled to participate in a teenage parent program. Pregnant students may attend alternative education programs or adult education programs, provided that the curriculum allows the student to continue to work toward a high school diploma. Note: ALL students who do not attend school or who leave school without permission are subject to being detained by a local law enforcement officer and transported to the Seminole Truancy Alternatives for Youth (S.T.A.Y.) Center where they must remain until released directly into the custody of a parent or guardian.