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Bala Cynwyd Middle School


Attendance Procedures

For complete attendance information, please visit our school's attendance page.

Upon arrival in the morning, students are expected to visit their lockers, unpack book bags, and organize their belongings for the day.  Students may have a light breakfast in the cafeteria until 8:05 a.m.

Students are expected to arrive in time to be in their first period class by 8:15 a.m. for the morning announcements.  Students arriving after 8:15 a.m. are considered tardy and are to report to the office and then report directly to their first period class.

Students should take care of all office business (getting forms, paying debts, reporting early dismissals, obtaining approved bus passes, etc.) before school and during lunch.

Students who wish to use the library before school may do so from 7:30 until 8:10 a.m.

School attendance continues to be one of the most important variables contributing to student achievement. It is difficult, if not impossible, to replace the learning activities and interactions that occur among classmates and teachers on a daily basis. We have entered the 21st century and have the responsibility to prepare our students for the information age. This requires that we carefully monitor student attendance. In September of 2017, the Lower Merion School District implemented new guidelines for attendance in compliance with Section 1327 of the Pennsylvania School Code of 1949, Compulsory School Attendance, and Basic Education Circular (BEC) 24 P.S. 13-1327, Compulsory Attendance and School Attendance Improvement Plan (SAIP). The Policy includes the following:

Absences fall into two categories - Excused and Unlawful/Unexcused:

  • Excused Absences/Tardies/Early Dismissals:
    • Illness
    • Death of a family member
    • Medical or dental appointments
    • Authorized school activities
    • Required court attendance
    • Urgent reasons as deemed appropriate by school administration
    • Educational travel with prior approval (use LMSD form: Absence for Educational Trip)
    • Religious holidays observed by bona fide religious groups
      • Religious instruction pursuant to § I 546 of the Pennsylvania School Code (up to 36 hours per school year).
  • Unlawful Absences/Tardies/Early Dismissals:
    • Absence due to parental neglect
    • Missing the bus
    • Oversleeping
    • Any other reason not covered in excused absences above.

Additional Information

  • Excused absences may be considered Absence Excused Cumulative (AEC) or Absence Excused Non-cumulative (AEN). All unlawful absences are considered cumulative.
  • All absences will be treated as unlawful (UNL) until the school district receives a written excuse explaining the reason(s) for the absence.
  • Unexcused tardy or unexcused early dismissal minutes may be calculated and reflected as the equivalent of one unlawful absence.
  • If a student has been absent from school for any period of time, the parent or legal guardian MUST provide a written explanation of the absence within 3 calendar days of the absence. If such documentation is not provided, the absence will be counted as unexcused or unlawful.
  • Telephone calls are still necessary to inform the School that the student will be absent on that day but WILL NOT REPLACE a written explanation of absence upon readmission.
  • Absences due to illness that are 3 or more consecutive days require an absence note documenting the reason for the absence and the dates of absence from a medical doctor or practitioner of the healing arts who is providing ongoing care for that child.
  • A maximum of 10 days of cumulative lawful absences for illness verified by parental notification may be permitted during a school year. All absences beyond 10 cumulative days for illness will require a written excuse from a medical doctor or practitioner of the healing arts, who may not be the child’s parent/guardian. The definition of a cumulative absence is an absence verified by parent notification and all unlawful or unexcused absences (absences not noted by a parent or physician).
  • School district shall coordinate a school/family conference to discuss the cause of the child's truancy and develop a mutually agreed upon School Attendance Improvement Plan to resolve truant behavior.
  • Official Attendance Violation Notifications will be issued after 6 unlawful (UNL) absences indicating that habitual truancy will result in a citation being filed with the district magistrate, which may result in a monetary fine not to exceed $300 for the first offense. Continued truancy, after the child has been deposed in District Court, will be referred to the Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
  • Students under the age of 15 years who are habitually truant from school may be referred to the Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth (OCY).

Communication Procedures for Excused Absences (AEC)

Letter Description When is an attendance letter sent?
Letter #1 Attendance Letter of Concern
  • 5 AEC
Letter #2 Physician’s Verification (Doctor’s Excuse)
  • 10 AEC
Letter #3 First Notice of Attendance
  • Letter #2 plus three Unlawful Absences (UNL)
  • Violation of the School Code
Letter #4 Second Notice of Attendance
  • Letter #3 plus one Unlawful Absence (UNL)
  • Truancy Elimination Plan will be developed
Letter #5 Notice of Violation
  • Letter #4 plus one Unlawful Absence (UNL)
  • Violation of Compulsory School Attendance Requirements

Communication Procedures for Unlawful Absences (UNL)

An Unlawful Absence is an unexcused absence for a student of compulsory school age.

Letter Description When is an attendance letter sent?
Letter #1 Official Notice of Truancy
  • 3 Unlawful Absences (UNL)
Letter #2 Notice of School Attendance Improvement Conference
  • 4th Unlawful Absence (UNL) unless previously scheduled
Letter #3 Official Notice of Violation of Compulsory School Attendance
  • 6 Unlawful Absences (UNL)
  • Violation of Compulsory School Attendance Requirements

Absence Calls

A parent or guardian must call the Attendance/Safe Arrival Line 610-645-1400 by 8:30 a.m. to report any absences or tardy arrivals to school. When calling, please include the student’s name, grade, reason for the absence/tardiness, and date. If calling after 8:30 a.m., then call the office at 610-645-1480 . A signed note will also be required when the student returns to school (within 3 days of student’s return).

In order to participate in a scheduled interscholastic athletic contest on a given school day (afternoon or evening), the student must be signed into school prior to 11:30 am. The PIAA and Bala Cynwyd require that students be present for at least ½ of their regularly scheduled school day in order to participate in a scheduled contest or activity.

Absence Notes

If a student must be absent from school because of an illness or some other urgent reason, a note must be turned into the School Office within 3 days of student’s return to school. The form for student absences can be found on the Bala Cynwyd website, under the “Parent Info” tab. Absences of three or more consecutive days require a physician’s note upon return to school. In the event of a pre-planned absence, a note with the dates of the absence can be brought to the School Office in advance. Then a parent/guardian phone call will not be required on the date(s) of the absence(s).

Absence for Educational Trip

Education tours or trips have the potential of enhancing and enriching a student’s overall educational experience. However, in order to ensure continuity of instruction, participation in educational activities, and compliance with Board Policy and State Law, it is suggested that you plan tours and trips during such times that schools are not in session.

Educational trips not exceeding a total of 10 school days per school year may be excused if approved by the District Superintendent/Designee and/or Principal. You must complete the “Absence for Educational Trip” form (available from the Welsh Valley or District website) and submit to the Principal’s office 14 days before your planned educational trip. Students are responsible for requesting and making up any assignments for the period of absence.

Lateness to School or Class

A parent or guardian must call the Attendance/Safe Arrival Line (610-645-1400) by 8:30 a.m. to report any tardy arrivals to school. When calling, please include the student’s name, homeroom, reason for the tardiness, and date. If calling after 8:30 a.m., then call the office at 610-645-1480. A student is late if he/she is not in his/her assigned seat and prepared for class when the period begins at 8:15 a.m. If a student is late to school, he/she must report to the School Office with a note from a parent/guardian so that a “Late Pass” can be issued to the student. If the student is late due to a professional appointment, then an excuse note should be provided by the professional.

Lateness is excused for the following reasons: bus is late; illness in the morning; unavoidable medical or dental appointment; detained by the teacher, counselor, nurse, secretary or administrator. Lateness not covered by a note from your parent (for the above reasons), teacher, administrator, secretary, nurse or counselor will be considered unexcused.

If a student exceeds five tardy unexcused to school, a lunch detention will be assigned. Continued unexcused lateness to school will require a meeting with an Assistant Principal.

If a student is excessively late to school with parent excuse notes (and not notes from professionals or physicians), the student will be required to meet with the School Social Worker or an Assistant Principal.

Early Dismissals

Early dismissals are usually reserved for emergencies.  Please schedule routine health appointments outside of school hours. If a student must leave school before the end of the day, a note from a parent/guardian must be submitted through the BCMS school website before the start of classes (8:30 am), or as soon as the parent knows the student must leave early.   The student should report to the school office at the dismissal time requested, and the parent/guardian must come into the building to pick the student up.  If the student is leaving for a professional appointment, then an excuse note should be provided by the professional. Parents/Guardians must be prepared to come into the building and show identification prior to student dismissal.

Homework and Makeup Work Responsibilities

No student shall lose academic credit for any excused absence when missed assignments and tests are satisfactorily completed within a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period of time shall be defined as at least one school day per day of excused absence. Excused absences include field trips, school-sponsored sports, and other activities.

Upon timely request, students shall be given the opportunity to complete all assignments and tests for full credit. As determined by the teacher, the assignments and tests can be reasonably equivalent to, but not necessarily identical to, the assignments and tests missed during the absence. Students are encouraged to reach out to their peers in class, check the Blackboard, contact teachers via email, or request a pass to meet with the teacher during their Learn period on the day of their return. The goal is for the student to take a role in creating a resolution that does not have an adverse effect on the student or their class grade. Requests for missed work can be made at any time, however there is typically a 24-hour turnaround before the work is available for pickup in the school office.

Long-term absences are exceptions.  Students planning to go on an approved educational trip are reminded to submit an “Educational Trip Request Form” to the building principal 14 days prior to the trip. This form can be obtained in the main office, or on the school’s website. Students are encouraged to see their teachers in advance of the trip to secure assignments.  Homework will only be collected by the office in cases of students who have been absent for three days.

Student Transfer and Withdrawal Information

Parents should notify the school guidance office of a pending transfer and/or withdrawal of a child from school.  Please do this two or more days in advance of the withdrawal.  In this manner, a withdrawal authorization can be prepared and student obligations (school equipment and book return) can be resolved prior to leaving.

The student’s permanent record, as well as reading and standardized test scores, will be sent upon receipt of a pupil transfer card from the new school.  Parents may request a copy of materials sent to the new school.