Graduation Ceremonies

  • Graduation from high school is a very important and special occasion. All BPS high schools honor their graduates with formal ceremonies during which they present diplomas, scholarships, and other recognitions. Only those students who have met all BPS high school promotion requirements and the state’s Competency Determination requirements for ELA, math, and science & technology/engineering MCAS tests may participate in high school graduation exercises and receive a diploma. Students who have not met graduation requirements may not “walk across the stage” and will receive a blank piece of paper in place of a diploma.

    There are only three exceptions to this policy:

    1. Students who have completed two years in a technical-vocational program at Madison Park and who have earned a Certificate of Competence may participate in graduation ceremonies.
    2. Special education students with significant disabilities who are 22 years old and exiting high school based on their age and attainment of IEP goals will receive a Certificate of Attendance and are also permitted to participate.
    3. Other students with disabilities who meet these requirements may choose to participate:
      • The student has no more than nine unexcused absences in the prior school year
      • The student has taken Grade 10 MCAS at least three times in each subject which the student didn’t pass or has submitted at least two “alternative assessment” portfolios
      • The student has completed 12th grade in good standing as defined in the IEP and has met all school and BPS non-academic standards.

    Many schools hold end-of-year assemblies to recognize students who are promoted from kindergarten, grade 5, and grade 8. However, these celebrations are not graduations. Schools are discouraged from calling them graduations, presenting “diplomas,” and having students wear caps and gowns. 

    All students except graduating high school seniors are expected to attend school through the last (180th) day—even if the end-of-year ceremony takes place before the last day of school—and will be marked “absent” if they do not attend.


  • Boston Public Schools educators believe that when students spend time on meaningful homework assignments, they are more likely to achieve academic success. Homework builds on classroom work and encourages the development of self-discipline and personal responsibility. It also promotes cooperation and communication between families and the school.

    Every BPS student should have homework assignments every school day. Click here for elementary school, middle school, and high school homework guidelines. Teachers are responsible for assigning homework. 

    If you have questions about homework, or if you or your child has concerns about the value or amount of homework assigned, contact the teacher first, then the principal or Head of School.


  • All students are expected to report to school on time every day. Students who arrive after the beginning of the day are tardy. They must follow the school’s tardy procedures in order to be considered present for the day. High schools may count excessive tardiness as an absence. Read more about absences and punctuality.

    It is the policy of the Boston School Committee (approved May 24, 2006) that tardy students must be permitted to enter the school building and not be excluded. Head of Schools and principals must (a) review their current tardy policies with their School Site Councils, (b) develop reasonable consequences to deal with student tardiness and positive incentives to encourage punctuality, and (c) closely monitor compliance with these policies.

    The Boston Student Advisory Council says…

    The attendance and punctuality policy is about respect for students and their education. BPS administration saw that it was wrong to punish tardy students by keeping them out of school. Schools need to continue to develop positive incentives that will make students WANT to come to school; for instance, by improving school culture and emphasizing help for tardy students rather than detention or punishment. And students need to show how important education is to them—by showing up on time.

Student Lockers

  • Middle schools and high schools assign lockers to each student to store their school supplies and personal belongings. Lockers are not available for middle school students in some K-8 schools. The school provides locks and keys. Students may not use their own locks. 

    It is important for parents and students to understand that lockers remain the property of the Boston Public Schools while students are using them. School staff has a right to search lockers and any personal items inside the locker (such as coat pockets).

    School staff inspects all lockers at least once a year for general clean-up. They also inspect lockers when they suspect a safety or security problem. Any illegal, prohibited, or potentially dangerous items, or evidence of a crime found during a locker search will be given to the appropriate authorities.

    Check your school’s School-Based Rules for more details on locker procedures.

Personal Property 

  • It is upsetting both for students and school staff when valuable personal items, such as jewelry, toys, or electronics, are lost or stolen at school. We strongly encourage families to be sure that children do not bring valuable items to school. 

    If such items cause disruption, the School-Based Rules may allow staff to take the property away from the student while at school. The School-Based Rules also may state that certain items should not be brought to school in the first place. 

    We make every effort to return all personal property to the student or parent. However, we cannot be responsible for replacing lost or stolen property or compensating the family for the value of that property.

Mobile (Cell) Phones

  • The BPS policy on mobile telephones is designed to ensure that the use of cell phones does not interfere with teaching and learning during the school day. This policy applies to all students enrolled in all BPS schools at all levels, including pilot schools and Horace Mann charter schools.

    1. Students are permitted to use cell phones only during the following times:
      • before and after school hours outside or inside the school building;
      • at after-school or sports activities, only with the permission of the coach, instructor, or program director;
      • at evening or weekend activities inside the school building
      • in the classroom, with the teacher’s permission, for educational purposes.
    2. The use of cell phones for any purpose­—including telephone calls, text messaging, and other functions—is not permitted at any other time on school grounds.
    3.  Cell phones must not be visible during the school day.
      • Cell phones must be turned completely off (not simply on silent or vibrate mode) during the school day.

    Penalties for students who violate the policy:

    • First offense: The cell phone will be confiscated and returned to the student at the end of the school day.
    • Second and subsequent offenses: The cell phone will be confiscated and returned only to the student’s parent or guardian. The student may not bring a cell phone to school for the remainder of the school year.
    • Repeated violations of this policy: Students may be subject to additional disciplinary action, consistent with the Code of Conduct.

    The Boston Student Advisory Council says…

    Cell phones are important to many students who need to communicate with family or after-school jobs. We need them—but we don’t want them disrupting anyone’s education. The BPS cell phone policy was developed by and for students to strike a fair balance between respecting our learning environment and respecting students’ rights.

Report Cards

  • Schools issue report cards at the end of each marking period. In general, elementary schools and grades K–5 in K–8 schools have three marking periods. Most middle schools, grades 6–8 in K–8 schools, and high schools have four marking periods. Some K–8 schools may request to have one type of marking period for all grade levels. You will find the marking periods for 2021–2022 on the school report card schedule. A School Site Council may request a different marking period schedule from the one established by the central office.

    Usually, students bring their report cards home for their parents or guardian to sign. Students then bring it back to the teacher. Some schools give out report cards at Open House or parent-teacher conferences.

    In the middle of each marking period, schools must send warning notices home with students who are in danger of failing.

    To find out how your child is progressing, call the school to schedule a parent-teacher conference. The BPS Welcome Centers can advise you on how to have a successful meeting with your child’s teacher. They are listed on page 5. Also see page 10, “Preparing for a Productive Parent-Teacher Conference.”

    Families can also monitor their child’s academic progress online through the district’s SIS (Student Information System) Family Portal. More information is available at your school.

School Cancellations 

  • On occasion, the BPS may need to close school because of bad weather or an emergency situation. We communicate cancellation information in these ways:

    *Sign up to be notified of snow emergencies, parking bans, and school cancellations by phone or email.

    Whatever our decision regarding school opening, the parent should make the final decision on whether it is safe for their child to go to school. If a parent decides to keep a child home because of safety concerns, the absence will be excused when the parent sends a note. (See Promotion Policy: Attendance)

    • If schools are closed: The day will be made up at the end of the school year.
    • If bad weather develops during the school day: Dismissal will be at the regular time. 
    • After-school programs: When school is canceled, all after-school programs in BPS schools, BPS athletic events, and evening classes and events are also canceled.

    By state law, the school year for students must be 180 days. Under the Boston Teachers Union contract, the last day of school must be no later than June 30. If necessary, we will adjust the BPS calendar to comply with these requirements. You will receive information from your child’s school.

School Uniforms

  • The Boston Public Schools does not have a districtwide school uniform. However, it does have a School Uniform Policy. Under the policy, each School Site Council must choose one of three options:

    • no school uniform;
    • voluntary uniform or dress code; or
    • mandatory (required) uniform or dress code.

    Even if your child’s school has a mandatory uniform policy, you have the right not to participate. To do this, send a letter to the principal stating why your child is not participating. School staff must allow students who are not wearing uniforms to attend school.

Care of Books and Other Materials

  • Our schools supply students with textbooks and other materials they need for school, free of charge. Textbooks and library books are owned by Boston Public Schools. 

    Most textbooks now in use in our schools are in good condition. New books are purchased each year as needed. Students are expected to return them in good condition. All textbooks that are taken home by students should be covered. 

    If a student damages or loses a book or other school property, the student or parent may have to pay for a replacement. Families should be aware that many textbooks are very expensive. 

Expectant and Parenting Student Policy

  • Expectant and parenting students have academic and other education rights outlined in Superintendent’s Circular SUP-21 to help students who are expectant and parenting to complete all course requirements at their home school. As part of this policy, all schools with grades 6-12 must appoint a liaison for the Expectant and Parenting Student Policy who is responsible for communicating about the policy within the school community.