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DCSS makes big change to attendance policy

Students in Dougherty County schools can now only be absent from school for 5 days and it used be almost triple that number. DCSS's new attendance policy drastically reduces the number of unexcused absences that a student in the district can have from 14 to 5. / FOX31 NEWS TEAM


Students in Dougherty County schools can now only be absent from school for 5 days and it used be almost triple that number.

DCSS's new attendance policy drastically reduces the number of unexcused absences that a student in the district can have from 14 to 5.

The new policy was voted on and approved at the school board meeting on Monday.

Our motive as an administration is to keep the children in the classroom where they can best receive the materials and the information that we're trying to give them so that they'll be successful in an educational environment," said JD Sumner, Spokesperson for Dougherty County School System. "By taking this kind of aggressive approach we align ourselves with state standards, with the Georgia truancy code and with the standards that we're held to as a district by the state. So really we're just trying to kind of merge those things together," he added.

Educators want parents to know that they understand if certain things come up like when a student is sick or if there is a death in the family.

When those scenarios come up, they want parents to keep the teachers and the principal of the individual schools informed.

Even though it's a 5 day unexcused absence limit, educators says they don't wait until the 5th day to take action.

"The process starts before the 5 day threshold is here," Sumner said. "I believe at a three day limit that's when our staff starts getting involved at a degree that has never really been done before. We have social workers who will get involved if they get close to that 5 day limit to check to make sure the student is not homeless or there's not some other need at home that needs to be addressed first." he added.

"We also send certified letters home so the parents know hey your child's getting close to this 5 day limit, is there something we need to work with you on, is there some issue that we need to help you with in order to get this student back in school where they need to be," Sumer said.

But once the student reaches the 5 day limit, the process starts rolling to discuss whether the student should be held back in school or not. That decision rest with the principal of the school and ultimately the school board.

"However if the student does reach a certain threshold beyond the 5 day limit, I believe its 9 days then there are truancy actions that are going to be undertaken by our district attorney in Dougherty County," Sumner said.

"By having one consistent uniform attendance policy, we think the district as a whole will improve. And especially the students because they will be in the classrooms more and our early enrollment numbers are actually reflecting that," Sumner said.

The new policy takes effect immediately.

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