Each local school district is responsible for enforcing Pennsylvania’s school attendance laws. Each public school is responsible for recording student attendance and maintaining student records. The district’s Office of Attendance and Truancy works to improve student attendance for all students in Philadelphia.

What is truancy?

Act 138 is a truancy law in Pennsylvania passed in 2016. The new law defines “truant” as a child subject to compulsory school laws who has three or more school days of unexcused absence during the current school year. The law also defines a student who is “habitually truant” as one who has six or more school days of unexcused absences during the current school year. These six days do not need to be consecutive.

Why is school attendance important?

Each public school is responsible for the academic achievement and success of all students, and regular school attendance is part of that success. When students attend school on a daily basis, they improve their academic skills and build a greater capacity for social and emotional growth.

What is the purpose of maintaining attendance records?

Recording student attendance helps schools receive funding. Attendance is the basis by which the state allocates school subsidies for the district. Attendance is also important as a metric for school accountability. Also, Act 138 requires that all public schools, including charter schools, report unexcused absences to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. For these reasons, student attendance must be monitored daily and accurately recorded and reported throughout the school year.

What are the attendance rules for my school?

Each charter school may set its own attendance policies, but the school must have an attendance policy. The charter school’s attendance policy may differ from the district’s policy, but the charter school must follow certain state regulations including those related to truancy. At the beginning of each school year, your school should make attendance requirements and expectations clear to families. Information from schools should include the benefits of regular attendance, as well as the consequences for missing school. This information may be in the Student/Family Handbook or in a separate policy, such as the charter school’s code of conduct.

Can students be removed from the charter school for missing too many days?

Yes. If a student misses ten consecutive days of school, the charter school is expected to drop the student from the rolls.

Resources

The Office of Attendance and Truancy[2]  offers training and support services to all members of the school community to help improve student attendance:

  • Pennsylvania Truancy Act [3] Effective July 1, 2017[GD4]
  • Act 138 Fact Sheet from the Education Law Center [5]  A guide to the new Truancy Act requirements.
  • Attendance & Truancy Toolkit Forms used by the district during the truancy intervention process, including Truancy Referral Forms. The processes and forms may differ for your child’s charter school.
  • Attendance Matters Multilingual attendance information for educators and families attending schools operated by the district. Guidelines and policies for student attendance may differ for your child’s charter school.