2005-07-20 / Front Page

Parents must see that children attend school

By Deborah Bennett
Millen News Editor

By Deborah Bennett
Millen News Editor

Parents of students enrolled in the Jenkins County school system must take responsibility for having their children in school, according to Georgia’s Compulsory Attendance Law. The law states that any parent, guardian or other person residing in Georgia who has control or charge of a child residing in Georgia between six and 16 years of age is required to enroll that child in school and see to it that they attend.

Under provisions of the law, each day a student is absent from school after the student has accumulated five days of unexcused absences, whether consecutive or not, can constitute a violation of law and subject the parent and student to penalties. The penalties may include a fine of not less that $25 and not greater than $100, imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, community service, court supervision as a juvenile offender or any combination of these penalties.

During its May meeting, the Jenkins County Board of Education adopted a Student Attendance Protocol (SAP) establishing policies and procedures to deal with student absenteeism as related to the Compulsory Attendance Law.

A local Attendance Protocol Committee has been established to ensure coordination and cooperation among officials, agencies and programs involved in compulsory attendance issues in order to reduce the number of unexcused absences from school and to increase the percentage of students present during administration of tests required by laws of this state. Committee members are: William E. Woodrum, chief judge of the Superior Court; Hubert Reeves III, State Court judge; Tim Fields, Jenkins County Sheriff; Dennis Simmons, Millen Police Chief; Kathy Bradley, Assistant District Attorney; Troy Gay, Jenkins County Solicitor; Hayward Cordy, Jenkins County School Superintendent; Wayne Burke, certified school employee; Vickie Odom, local board of education member; Debbie Fountain, school social worker, Carroll E. Gay, Jenkins County Board of Health; Angela Barnes, Department of Juvenile Justice; Pamela Wiggins, Jenkins County Department of Family and Children Services; Amanda Harrison, mental health; and Julie Chance, Jenkins County Family Enrichment Commission.

Under provisions of the SAP, elementary school students must be present a minimum of 160 days each year in order to be eligible for promotion. In cases of unexcused absences, the student may not be given credit for make-up work. Students are allowed five days to make up work, and the principal has exclusive jurisdiction in classifying excuses as "excused" or "unexcused."

Middle school students are required to present a parent note for each absence. Parent notes will not excuse more than seven absences within a school year unless accompanied by a doctor’s note. Unexcused absences will result in zeros being given for any missed assignments, and no make up work will be given.

High school students will be required to present a parent note or doctor’s excuse for any absence. Parent notes will be limited to six per semester. Students will be allowed three days from the date of return to school to make arrangements for any missed work during an excused absence. A legal excuse will be required to make up semester examinations, tests or class work. Students will be allowed to accumulate a total of 10 absences per class per semester. Any student with 11 or more total absences per class will be required to write an appeal in order to be considered for credit for course work attempted.

The SAP also outlines the procedures and penalties for violation of the attendance policy. These include parent notification at three, five and six absences, school truancy officer notification, caseworker assignment, court intervention and driver’s license denial for the student.

The entire SAP is to be included in the student handbooks given each student enrolled in the local school system at the beginning of the school year.

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