School Officials Try To End Attendance Policy Dispute

March 25, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

School officials will try Thursday to resolve a dispute with the Maryland State Department of Education over a local attendance policy that excuses student absences for family trips.

The committee that drew up the attendance policy will bring the school board a revision that committee members hope will meet state officials' objections.

The board will meet at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Department of Education, 10910 Route 108.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick warned in December that Howard's policy was out of line because it allowed five days of excused absences for students "at parental discretion"for family trips or college visits. Those are not on the state's list of lawful absences, Grasmick said.

Students are allowed to receive academic credit for making up work that they miss during an excused absence. If they miss time on an unexcused absence, such as cuttingschool, they cannot receive credit for making up missed work.

Theattendance policy committee's solution to the state's objection: remove "parental discretion" absence as a separate category and add it to part of the state list that allows students to be absent for an "other emergency or set of circumstances which, in the judgment of the superintendent or designee, constitutes a good and sufficient cause for absence from school."

Alice W. Haskins, middle schools director and chairwoman of the attendance policy committee, said she believes the change addresses the school board's desire to keep the discretionary absence and the state's objections.

"I'm sure they (MSDE) are going to accept this. They just didn't want us to create another area(of absences)," Haskins said.

The committee will recommend one other minor change sought by the MSDE. Howard's attendance policy encourages individual school administrators to develop incentives for goodattendance. State education officials said the school board should require the incentives.

The school board wrote the discretionary absence provision into the policy it adopted in June 1991 after hearingstrong community sentiment that favored allowing time for family trips or college visits.

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