Please note: The Lower Merion School District Policy regarding Student Attendance (207) and its Administrative Regulations can be found on the District website, LMSD.org. These Frequently Asked Questions attempt to summarize some of what can be found in those documents. The actual Policy and Administrative Regulations supersede any summaries in these FAQs.
Question: What is an absence?
Answer: An absence is the non-attendance of a student when school is in session.
Question: What is an excused absence?
Answer: A student absence is considered excused under the following circumstances:
- Family emergency
- Death of a family member
- Medical or dental appointment
- Pre-approved educational travel (not to exceed five days)
- Pre-approved religious instruction (not to exceed 36 hours/year)
- Bona Fide religious holiday
- Pre-approved tutoring exception (see Policy for details)
- Court hearing
- Project for an organization eligible under the Pa. Agricultural Fair Act
- Dismissed from school by a school nurse or administrator
- Care provided by a licensed health care or therapy practitioner
- Parent deployed for or on leave from combat posting
- “Rare and extraordinary circumstances” approved by the Superintendent (this is very narrowly defined)
Question: What do I need to know about pre-approved educational travel?
Answer: The request form for an educational trip must be submitted to the student’s principal at least 14 days prior to the start of the trip. No more than five days per student will be approved during a school year. Days absent that are not approved for an educational trip/tour are deemed unexcused.
Question: What is an unexcused absence?
Answer: All absences are considered unexcused, until the District receives a note or email documenting a valid reason for the absence (see above). If the reason isn’t valid, the absence is still considered unexcused. If the note isn’t received within three days, the absence is considered unexcused. If a note is received within 10 days, the absence may be reclassified as excused. Unexcused absences are considered “unlawful absences” if the student is of compulsory school age.
Question: How can a parent/guardian send in a note to have an absence excused?
Answer: Physical notes can be delivered to the school office by the student. Electronic notes can be emailed to the school using the LMSD Safe Arrival online system. Note: phone calls to the LMSD Safe Arrival phone numbers still require a note.
Question: Do parents need to send in doctor’s notes for all absences?
Answer: A maximum of ten days of cumulative lawful absences may be permitted during a school year. All absences beyond ten cumulative days, not inclusive of pre-approved educational travel, shall require an excuse from the child’s primary care or treating physician, who may not be the child’s parent/guardian. So, while it is not necessary to send in a doctor’s note in most circumstances, it may be helpful to do so, especially if the student might miss additional days later in the year.
Question: What is compulsory school age?
Answer: Effective with the 2020-2021 school year, a child must comply with compulsory attendance requirements from age 6 to age 18. Specifically, a child who has attained the age of 6 on or before September 1 must enroll and attend school or begin a home school program that year. Additionally, any student less than 18 years of age must comply with compulsory school age requirements.
Question: When is a student considered truant?
Answer: After having three or more unexcused absence days in a school year. When that happens, parents/guardians will receive an Official Notice of Truancy.
Question: When is a student considered habitually truant?
Answer: After having six or more unexcused absence days in a school year. Habitually truant students of compulsory education age may be referred to the Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth. (Details of the procedures the District follows for truant students can be found in the Policy).
Question: If I still have questions, who should I contact?
Answer: Please call the main office at your student’s school.