School Attendance

  • In addition to meeting academic requirements, students must meet state laws and BPS requirements for school attendance. Excellent attendance and school success go hand in hand. The more often a student is absent—even if the absence is unavoidable—the harder it is for the student to keep up with the class. Students with good attendance are more likely to show proficiency in MCAS than those with poor attendance. Parents play an essential role in ensuring that their child attends school consistently and on time every day. 

    Schools keep parents informed of their child’s attendance through:

    • Phone calls
    • Holding a parent or student meeting
    • Conducting a home visit
    • Attendance letters
    • Establishing an attendance contract

    BPS Attendance Policy

    • A student must attend school for at least a half-day to be marked “present.” Check with the Principal or Head of School to find out what a half-day is. In most schools, it is:
      • 3 hours in elementary school
      • 3 hours and 5 minutes in middle school
      • 3 hours and 10 minutes in high school.
    • Students who arrive after the beginning of the day must follow the school’s tardy procedures in order to be considered present for the day.
      • Please note that the Boston School Committee approved a revised attendance policy effective for the 2021-2022 school year. Key changes include:
        • Schools may no longer convert tardies to an absence, including high schools.
        • To facilitate competency-based grading across the district, schools may no longer assign grades of “No Credit (NC)” to students. The following guidance has been provided regarding credit recovery for students:
          • Passing grades should be competency-based, which may be impacted by attendance due to missed assignments or schoolwork, but should not be tied exclusively to attendance or participation.
          • It is essential that schools outreach early and often for students at risk of a failing grade.
          • As an alternative, schools may mark a student with an “incomplete” grade to enable equitable learning recovery.
          • In all cases, a student not earning a passing grade must be given the opportunity and responsibility to equitably recover any learning loss or make up the work missed within a marking period to earn a passing grade.

    Early Dismissal

    Your child must be in school for the duration of the school day. Early dismissal should only occur in the event of an emergency. A note should be provided to school administrators to verify and approve the reason for the early dismissal. 

    Excused Absences

    Certain absences may be excused. However, it is important to understand that all missed instructional time negatively impacts student outcomes. Students must bring a note after each day they are absent and make sure the Principal receives it. The note must include the date absent, the reason for the absence, a phone number for the parent or guardian, and the parent or guardian’s signature.     

    Students may make up the work they missed during excused absences. 

    Excused absences may include:

    • An illness or injury that prevents the student from attending school. The illness or injury must be verified by a healthcare provider, school nurse, or parent
    • Death in the immediate family (parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin; please provide a copy of the funeral program) or other significant personal or family crisis
    • Court appearances
    • Medical or psychological tests during the school day. The parent must show evidence (such as a note from the health center) that the tests could not be scheduled after school.
    • Religious holidays
    • Visits to special education schools for students with disabilities
    • Other extraordinary situations approved by the School Site Council

    What Is an Unexcused Absence?

    Some parents think that any absence will be excused as long as the parent sends a note. This is not true. Here are examples of unexcused absences—even if the parent sends a note:

    • Repetitive and chronic absence due to illness or injury. In these cases, for the absence to be excused, the parent must submit a letter from a healthcare provider verifying that the student was too sick or injured to go to school
    • The student needed to babysit
    • Cutting class (including checking in and leaving the building early)
    • Family vacation during non-school vacation time 
    • Trip to the homeland extended beyond school vacation 
    • Extension of a religious or cultural holiday beyond the designated day or days on the school calendar
    • A phone call or text to the school to inform of a student’s absence
    • The student is absent due to a sibling or parent having an appointment

    After a public meeting, the School Site Council may expand the list of unexcused absences. See School-Based Rules for details. Whenever possible, parents should check with the Principal before allowing a student to miss school if they are not sure the absence will be excused. Teachers do not have the authority to excuse a student from school.

    Students are responsible for making up the work they missed when they are absent. However, the school is not required to help students make up tests and assignments the student missed due to unexcused absences.

    Students with four or more unexcused absences will be referred by a teacher or the Principal/Head of School to the school’s Student Support Team (SST). The SST will review the case and work with the family to develop a plan or contract to help the student improve attendance.

    View ACA-18, the complete Attendance and Punctuality Policy.


    Students who arrive after the beginning of the school day are tardy. They must follow established tardy procedures to be considered present for the day. All students are expected to report to school on time every day. It is the policy of the Boston School Committee (approved May 24, 2006) that tardy students should be permitted into the school building and not excluded.

    It is important to remember that the requirement that tardy students be admitted to school does not equal a relaxation of the rules covering attendance or tardiness.

Supervisors of Attendance

  • The BPS Supervisors of Attendance coordinate with school-based staff to investigate attendance problems primarily outside the school environment. They work in the community, visit homes, and counsel students and their families. When necessary, the Supervisors of Attendance file and represent chronic cases in the Boston Juvenile Court.

    Supervisors of Attendance

    • Yoralba Peguero: Region 1 - 617-635-9000
    • Lorraine Trowers: Region 2 - 617-635-9000
    • Mary Pola: Region 3 - 857-891-1225
    • David Damiani: Region 4 - 617-635-9000
    • George Physic: Region 5 - 617-635-8035
    • Steve Desrosiers: Region 6 - 617-635-7750
    • Wilson Santos: Region 7 - 617-635-2273
    • Amelia Lopes Ford: Region 8 - 617-635-9000
    • Kunthary Thai-Johnson: Region 9 & Up Schools - 617-635-9000