Student Attendance Guidelines
Please carefully read the following information about South Carolina School Attendance Laws and the Fort Mill School District’s Guidelines for student attendance. The Fort Mill School Board believes that attendance is a key factor in student achievement, and any absence from school represents an educational loss to the student. However, the board also recognizes that some absences from school are unavoidable and has established an attendance policy which allows for absences in inevitable circumstances.
If you have any questions regarding the Fort Mill School District's attendance policy, please email the district attendance office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 803-548-2527.
High School Attendance Guidelines
Policy: Students are expected to attend school each day in accordance with the approved school calendar. In order to receive credit for a one unit course, a student must attend at least 85 out of 90 school days for a semester long class. Any student who misses school must present a written excuse, signed by a parent/guardian, or the medical professional who treated the child and the absence will be considered LAWFUL. The maximum number of days that will be recorded as LAWFUL absences with parent notes will be TWO PER SEMESTER at the high school level. If a written excuse is not turned in within THREE days after the child is back in school or is without acceptable cause, the absence will be considered unexcused and UNLAWFUL. The maximum number of UNLAWFUL days that a child is allowed to miss in one semester is FIVE. A student will be denied credit and fail due to attendance when they have accrued SIX UNLAWFUL absences in a class. When a student is absent more than a total of TEN days per semester, the Board has designated the school principal to approve or disapprove of any additional absences. In some instances students may be eligible for Attendance Recovery Sessions to meet the minimum seat time requirements and recover credits that were denied due to excessive absences. Eligible students will be notified by school administration and provided with the opportunity to enroll in the program.
Students will be considered lawfully absent when:
- They are ill and their attendance in school would endanger their health or the health of others, and can provide a written excuse from a medical professional.
- There is a death or serious illness in their immediate family—with proper documentation (i.e. bulletin, death notice, obituary, etc).
- There is a recognized religious holiday of their faith and it has been pre-approved by the school principal.
- They participate in sanctioned school activities.
- The student is suspended from school.
- There is a necessary medical or legal appointment that cannot be scheduled during non-school hours.
Lawful absences will allow students to make up missed work, and will not lead to truancy.
Students will be considered unlawfully absent when:
- They have exceeded the two days per semester that may be excused witha parent note.
- A student is absent without an acceptable cause, with or without the knowledge of his/her parents.
- They are out of town on trips or vacations.
** Please note: In order to participate in extracurricular activities or sports, students must be in attendance at least one half of the school day on the day of the event.**
Parents will be notified daily when their child is absent from school via the school messenger system (by phone and/or email depending on the preferences of the parent and/or school). Attendance letters will be generated from the District Attendance Office and mailed home when students have accrued FIVE, SEVEN and TEN UNLAWFUL ABSENCES.
Truancy: After THREE CONSECUTIVE or FIVE total UNLAWFUL ABSENCES have been accrued; South Carolina State Law R 43-274 identifies a child (between the ages of 6 and 17) as TRUANT. It also requires that school officials enter a discipline/incident report in the student’s permanent record and report the truancy status to the State of SC. Parents will receive a letter when their child has been identified as truant and will be additionally contacted for an attendance conference with a school administrator. The purpose of this conference is to identify the reasons for the child’s absences and complete a Student Attendance Intervention Plan (SAIP) to develop actions to ensure regular student attendance. In the event of continued unlawful absences after the SAIP has been documented, the child/family may be referred to York County Family Court and or the Department of Social Services.
Below are responses to the most commonly asked questions regarding the Fort Mill School District’s Attendance Policy.
- I told my child to inform his teacher that he was absent because he was sick. Do I have to send in a written note? Yes, a written note is required every time your child is absent from school. The note should include your child’s name, homeroom teacher/grade, parent name, a detailed explanation of the reason that he/she was absent from school, and a parent signature. Each year, elementary and middle school students may have up to five days can be excused with a parent note. High school students may have up to two days excused with a parent note each semester. All days in excess of these limits, without acceptable reason or an excuse from a medical professional, will be considered unlawful.
- What happens if our family has planned an out of town trip that will require my child to miss school? Out of town trips, vacations and cruises are not acceptable reasons for lawful absences, and the days will count towards truancy.
- How many days is my child allowed to miss school because of sickness? Only five days will be excused for illness with a parent note in elementary and middle school, and two days per semester at the high school level. Additional days may be excused with acceptable documentation from a medical professional or service provider. In the event of a serious medical issue or illness, please consult the child’s school to explore the potential for homebound instruction.
- My son/daughter missed the bus. Is this an excused absence? No. If your child misses the school bus and subsequently misses an entire day of school the day will not be considered an excused or lawful absence.
- My child was absent from school because of a death in the family, are the two days for the funeral services excused? Yes, the child will be excused for “bereavement” in the event of a death of an immediate family member. Upon return to school, please include a copy of the death notice, obituary or program from the funeral services along with your written excuse.
- One of my children is sick, are his/her siblings able to be excused from school because of the medical appointment? No, your child’s absence may be excused only if they are sick and not if a parent or sibling is ill. The absence will be considered unlawful, and may lead to truancy.
- I took my child to the doctor, but I forgot to get a medical excuse note when we were in the office. Is it too late to submit the excuse? No, please make every possible effort to secure a medical excuse note whenever your child is seen and misses any part of the school day. When in doubt, please request a note from the doctor’s office as potential documentation. If you forget to get a note, please contact the provider’s office and explore the possibility of having an excuse faxed or sent directly to the school.
- We have already had 2 days excused with a parent note; can my child be excused for any additional days this year? Unfortunately, the Fort Mill School District policy only allows for a total of five days (two per semester at the high school level) excused with a parent note. Additional days without acceptable documentation will not be considered lawful absences.
- My child was seriously injured and is physically unable to attend school. What are the options? In the event that your child is battling a significant illness, enduring a prolonged hospital stay, surgery or is physically unable to attend school, they may be eligible for homebound instruction with the approval of a medical professional. Please contact your child’s guidance counselor to explore this option and determine if it is in the best interest of your child to pursue homebound instruction during the period of illness.
- Is the annual band trip considered an excused absence for my child? Yes, school days missed because of school activities, trips or functions will be excused and considered lawful absences.
- I signed my child out, why is the absence listed as unexcused? Absences will only be considered excused or lawful if they meet one of the guidelines established by the school board. Parents are unable to excuse their children from school if the absence is not due to one of the established acceptable reasons. Please review the District Attendance Guidelines, and contact the school attendance secretary or the District Attendance Office with any questions.