New SC Absence Policy instituted by SDOC

The School District of Oconee County (SDOC) is making parents and caregivers aware of a new state policy defining chronic absenteeism. Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, a student who misses 50% or more of the instructional day for any reason will be designated as absent. Each school will pull reports at regular intervals and students who have been marked absent for 10% of the days to that point will be considered chronically absent. The main change is that all types of absences contribute to identifying chronic absenteeism including excused absences, unexcused absences and suspensions. “The state is making this change to put more emphasis on attendance,” said Michael Thorsland, district superintendent. “Chronic absenteeism is associated with poor academic performance, increased dropout rates and decreased graduation rates. The bottom line is that it is important for students to be in school. Not only that, but attendance is also an important employment skill. Employers tell us that the number one reason employees are fired is work attendance. This habit and skill starts in school and parents need to be aware of the importance of consistent attendance.” Evie Hughes, Director of Student Services, Safety and Security, added, “Parents need to understand that all absences are counted now, excused or not. Let me emphasize that even if parents send in a note, it will be counted as an absence toward chronic absenteeism. It is important that parents make sure their children get to school.” Chronic Absenteeism should not be confused with Truancy, which is a designation for three consecutive full-day unexcused absences or five total unexcused absences throughout the school year. For questions about this change, parents can call Evie Hughes at 864-886-4400, extension 6144.