Student Attendance

POLICY: The Superintendent or designee is responsible for enforcing school attendance of all children subject to the compulsory school age in the Orange County Public Schools (“OCPS”) district and supporting enforcement of school attendance by local law enforcement agencies. The responsibility includes recommending policies and procedures to The School Board of Orange County, Florida (“Board”) that require schools to respond in a timely manner to every unexcused absence, and every absence for which the reason is unknown, of students enrolled in the schools.

Attendance Policy and Procedures

The Superintendent’s attendance procedures shall outline the responsibilities within the school system including, but not limited to, the following:

  • School attendance is the responsibility of the student and parent/legal guardian.
  • Students shall begin each new school year with zero (0) absences.
  • All school personnel shall encourage regular attendance.
  • Schools shall publish and distribute their attendance procedures to students and parents/legal guardians.

    On a daily basis, student absences will be recorded as unexcused until an acceptable excuse has been provided by the parent/legal guardian indicating the reason for the student’s absence. The principal has the ultimate authority to decide whether an absence shall be excused. Attendance documentation must be submitted to the school within 48 hours of the student’s absence. The principal may extend this deadline beyond 48 hours.

    Early student departure during the last hour of the school day is strongly discouraged.

    If a student is repeatedly absent from school due to illness, the school is authorized to require the parent/legal guardian to provide a written physician’s statement for each subsequent absence to be considered excused.

    Absences shall be excused for the following:

  • Illness, injury, or other insurmountable condition;
  • Illness or death of a member of the student’s immediate family (OCPS practice has
  • been to define immediate family as the student’s mother, father, brother,
  • sister, stepmother, stepfather, step-siblings, and other relatives who live in the
  • student’s home);
  • Recognized (or established) religious holidays and/or religious instruction;
  • Medical appointments;
  • Legal appointments;
  • Participation in an approved activity or class of instruction held at another site;
  • Prearranged absences of educational value with the principal’s prior approval;
  • Pediculosis (head lice) infestation (up to four (4) days per school year); or
  • Catastrophic disasters that significantly impact the life of the student (e.g. loss of residence from natural disaster).

    Students shall be given a reasonable amount of time to make up any work assignments which were missed during an absence. At least one (1) school day shall be allowed to make up missed work for each day of absence.

    Attendance Policy and Procedures

    A student who is not in his/her first assigned class at the beginning of each school day shall be considered tardy.

    In cases of truancy and habitual truancy that are referred for Child Study Team action, tardies may be recognized and calculated in the truancy instances. For truancy purposes in Child Study Team documentation that may also be used for court action, five (5) tardies to school or five (5) early departures from school will equal one (1) unexcused absence. The authority to apply accumulated tardies and early departure as unexcused absences is given to the Board pursuant to Section 1003.02, Florida Statutes. The principal has the authority to determine whether an absence is excused.

    Schools may not exempt students from examinations, papers, or other academic performance requirements to encourage student attendance.

    Report cards shall reflect the academic status, attendance, and number of daily tardies for each student. These will be hand-delivered to the parent/legal guardian by the student.

    A student between the ages of six (6) and under sixteen (16) who is absent from school without having an excused absence, with or without the knowledge and/or consent of the parent/legal guardian, will be considered “truant.”

    A student between the ages of six (6) and under sixteen (16) who has fifteen (15) or more unexcused absences within ninety (90) calendar days, or an equivalent combination of unexcused absences and accumulated tardies as determined in the Child Study Team action, will be considered an “habitual truant.” Days when a student is suspended from school are not included in the number of absences when determining “habitual truancy.”

    Students may make up work missed during a suspension within a time limit established by the principal.

    Each school shall implement the following steps to enforce regular school attendance of the students enrolled in their school:

  • Upon each unexcused absence, or absence for which the reason is unknown, the principal or designee shall contact the parent/legal guardian to determine the reason for the absence. At least one (1) school day shall be allowed to make up missed work for each day of absence.
  • If a student has had at least five (5) unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or ten (10) unexcused absences, within a ninety (90) calendar day period, or an equivalent combination of unexcused absences and accumulated tardies as determined in the Child Study Team action, the student's primary teacher shall report to the principal or designee that the student may be exhibiting a pattern of nonattendance. The principal or designee shall, unless there is clear evidence that the absences are not a pattern of nonattendance, refer the case to the school's Child Study Team to determine if early patterns of truancy are developing. If the Child Study Team finds that a pattern of nonattendance is developing, whether the absences are excused or not, a meeting with the parent/legal guardian must be scheduled to identify potential remedies. If an initial meeting does not resolve the problem, the Child Study Team shall implement the following:


    • Attendance Policy and Procedures
      • Frequent attempts at communication between the teacher and the parent/legal guardian; Evaluation for alternative education programs; and Attendance contracts.
  • The Child Study Team may, but is not required to, implement other interventions, including referral to other agencies for family services or recommendation for filing a truancy petition pursuant to Section 984.151, Florida Statutes.
  • The Child Study Team shall be diligent in facilitating intervention services and shall report the case to the Superintendent or designee only when all reasonable efforts to resolve the nonattendance behavior are exhausted.
  • If the parent/legal guardian refuses to participate in the remedial strategies because he or she believes that those strategies are unnecessary or inappropriate, the parent/legal guardian may appeal to the Board. The Board may provide a hearing officer, and the hearing officer shall make a recommendation for final action to the Board. If the Board's final determination is that the strategies of the Child Study Team are appropriate, and the parent/legal guardian still refuses to participate or cooperate, the Superintendent or designee may seek criminal prosecution for noncompliance with compulsory school attendance.
  • If a student subject to compulsory school attendance will not comply with attempts to enforce school attendance, the parent/legal guardian or the Superintendent or designee shall refer the case to the case staffing committee and the Superintendent or designee may file a truancy petition pursuant to the procedures set forth in Section 984.151, Florida Statutes.
  • If the Superintendent or designee chooses not to file a truancy petition, the procedures for filing a Child-in-Need-of-Services (“CINS”) petition shall be commenced.

Orange County Public Schools (“OCPS”) shall implement the following steps to enforce regular school attendance of students of compulsory school age who are not enrolled:

  • Under the direction of the Superintendent or designee, a designated school representative shall give written notice, in person or by return-receipt mail, to the parent/legal guardian when no valid reason is found for a student's non-enrollment in school. The notice shall require enrollment or attendance within three (3) days after the date of notice. If the notice and requirement are ignored, the designated school representative shall report the case to the Superintendent or designee and may refer the case to the Case Staffing Committee. The Superintendent or designee shall take such steps as are necessary to bring criminal prosecution against the parent/legal guardian or other person having control.
  • Subsequent to the activities described above, the Superintendent or designee shall give written notice in person or by return-receipt mail to the parent/legal guardian that criminal prosecution is being sought for nonattendance. The Superintendent or designee may file a truancy petition, as defined in Section 984.03, Florida Statutes, following the procedures outlined in Section 984.151, Florida Statutes.

    A law enforcement officer may take a student into custody when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the student is absent from school without authorization or is suspended or expelled and is not in the presence of his or her parent/legal guardian. The officer may take the student into custody and deliver the student to the appropriate “school system site”, including but not limited to, a center approved by the Superintendent of schools for the purpose of counseling students and referring them back to the school system or an approved alternative to a suspension or expulsion program. If a student is suspended or expelled from school without assignment to an alternative school placement, the student shall be delivered as follows:

  • To the parent/legal guardian; or
  • To a location determined by the parent/legal guardian, or to the Alternative Center for Truancy until the parent/legal guardian can be located.

Please see the OCPS Attendance Handbook for more information.