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Comprehensive Policy on Attendance

Section 703.1 | Board Report 22-0622-PO1 | Date Adopted June 22, 2022

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The Chicago Board of Education (“Board”) rescind Board Report 06-0222-PO2 and adopt new Comprehensive Policy on Attendance. The policy was posted for public comment from April 22, 2022 to May 23, 2022.


The Comprehensive Policy on Attendance addresses the need to align all CPS schools including CPS-contracted Charter, Contract and Options schools with ISBE school codes, and reflect the District's approach that aligns with best practices around relational trust, school connectedness, and tiered social emotional learning strategies that are recognized nationally as best practice around attendance and absenteeism.


I. Definitions

The following definitions apply to this policy:

  1. “Valid Cause For Absence” means:
    1. illness; including the mental or behavioral health of the student;
    2. observance of a religious holiday;
    3. death in the immediate family;
    4. a specified family emergency;
    5. other situations beyond the control of the student as determined by the principal, or principal’s designee, on a case-by-case basis.
    6. other circumstances which cause reasonable concern to the parent or legal guardian for the mental, emotional, or physical health or safety of the student (the reasonableness of the parent’s or legal guardian’s concern is subject to evaluation by the principal, principal’s designee, or other Board officials, on a case-by-case basis);
    7. sounding "Taps" at a military honors funeral held in this State for a deceased veteran; or
    8. a student’s parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the uniformed services and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat-support postings.
  2. “Excused Absence” means an absence for which there is a valid cause for absence, that is attested by a communication stating the cause for absence, and is approved by the principal or the principal’s designee after the date of the absence, or is known to the principal or principal’s designees, including suspensions issued under the District Student Code of Conduct. Medical documentation does not need to be provided as part of the communication to excuse absences.

    Communication needs to meet specific criteria in order for it to be reviewed for consideration. The cause for absence may come in the form of:

    1. a letter (or note) dated and signed by the parent or legal guardian explaining the reason for absence, and approved by the principal or principal’s designee either before or after the date of absence; or
    2. a direct phone call/voicemail to the school that communicates the date of the absence, the reason for absence, the absent student’s name, the name of the caller, and the caller’s relationship to the student. The school is required to maintain a designated log and document this call.
    3. a District designated and secured system that collects absence reason communication
  3. “Unexcused Absence” means an absence for which there is no valid cause either:
    1. known to the principal or principal’s designee; or
    2. no communication is provided as outlined in Section B.
  4. “Communication” means intentional contact that provides information that enables a school to understand the reason for a student's non-attendance. The contact must be recorded and stored as required by the District’s Records Retention Schedule and any guidelines and procedures developed by the Chief Executive Officer or designee and the Records Management Unit as required in the Board’s Records Management and Retention Policy, Section 203.2. Communication does not automatically mean an absence is excused, but it provides information that allows a school to review, and determine if the information aligns with ISBE requirements for Valid Reasons for Absence.
  5. “Immediate Family” means parents, legal guardians, spouse, brothers, sisters, children, grandparents, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles.
  6. “Truant” means: a student subject to compulsory school attendance and who is absent without valid cause for a school day or portion of the school day.
  7. “Chronic Truant” shall mean: a student subject to compulsory school attendance and who is absent from such attendance without valid cause for 5% or more days at any time of the school year.
  8. "Chronically Absent” shall mean: a student subject to compulsory attendance that is absent from such attendance 10% or more at any time of the school year.
  9. “Tardy” shall mean arriving after the designated start time of a school day or period.

II. School Responsibility

  1. School Attendance Monitoring:
    1. All schools, including non-district managed schools, must report and monitor attendance on a daily basis.
    2. Schools must not bar students from daily attendance or send them home for violations of a uniform policy.
    3. School Attendance Plan. Schools must implement a socio-emotional focused attendance approach that targets the underlying causes of chronic truancy. All schools must have a plan filed annually that addresses attendance through a whole child lens of equity, policy, and student supports. School plans must reflect:
      1. a clear awareness of State and District policies
      2. systems and structures that are organized and student-centric
      3. an application of the social emotional learning lens - tiered system of supports
      4. school-based team(s) that discuss, review and strategize ways to improve attendance, while vigilantly working to proactively identify students who may need additional support, all the while being consistent with the recorded progress monitoring of intervention efforts
      5. a system of response that utilizes restorative justice practices to provide meaningful support to identified students
      6. consideration of all students
      7. demonstrates an understanding of the importance of family involvement
  2. Notification of Unexcused Absences
    1. Schools must send a letter notifying a student’s family of 5 unexcused absences, and, subsequently, 10 unexcused absences.
      1. 10 day letters of unexcused absence notification are to be sent certified, return receipt requested
    2. Daily outgoing calls are made for all unreported absent students to notify families of absence, for the purpose of the child’s safety;
      1. This is separate from the mandated robocall required by the School Code.
    3. All outgoing and incoming calls are to be logged and stored according to the District’s Records Retention Schedule and any guidelines and procedures developed by the Chief Executive Officer or designee and the Records Management Unit as required in the Board’s Records Management and Retention Policy, Section 203.2.
  3. School Tardy Policy: All schools must develop and adopt a tardy policy prior to the beginning of each school year. This policy must be shared with all students and parents/guardians annually.
    1. Schools must accept all enrolled students who have not been suspended or expelled who present themselves for daily attendance.
    2. Students are not to be sent home or refused admission to school/class due to tardiness.
    3. Students who arrive late for any class period must be allowed to proceed to their classes after obtaining proper documentation of their tardiness.
    4. Schools may impose interventions or consequences in compliance with the District Student Code of Conduct, Section 705.5, for persistent tardiness to school or class.
      1. Out-of-school suspensions for persistent tardiness or unexcused absences should not be used.
  4. School Make-Up Work Policy. Each school must develop a make-up work policy, and share that plan with all students and parents/guardians at the start of every school year. Make-up work policies must be fair, equitable, and take into account the challenges students and families face.
    1. Students who are experiencing hardship (i.e,. homelessness, pregnancy, chronic illness, trauma) that results in absence must have make-up work provided.
    2. Any time limits as to when make-up work can be offered and/or submitted must be clearly defined in the school make-up work policy.

III. Removal From Enrollment Due To Attendance

  1. Students must not be removed from enrollment because of excessive absences. Students must not be removed from enrollment if the parent/legal guardian informs the school that they will be absent for an extended time.
  2. Student removal from enrollment due to attendance can only occur when the following criteria are met

    A student may be removed from enrollment if their whereabouts cannot be determined and the school has completed all of the following:

    1. called all phone numbers on file for the student, including emergency contacts;
    2. sent a certified letter addressed to the student’s last known address asking the parents to call or come to the school to discuss the student’s absenteeism; and it has been returned as undeliverable;
    3. visited the student’s last known address without finding the student or the student’s family; and
    4. completed and filed an official report.

    Upon completion, a school may apply the proper leave code.

  3. No student under 17 years of age shall be permitted to withdraw from enrollment. Students 17 years of age require the express, written, and informed consent of their parent or guardian to withdraw from enrollment.
  4. CPS must not deny re enrollment to a student who seeks re enrollment after dropping out of school. Following a transcript review, students who present for re-enrollment, and are determined to have an age and credit status that makes graduation requirements difficult to be met after a transcript review, must be counseled about educational options that best meet their individual needs. All children between the ages of five and twenty-one who live in the City of Chicago who seek admission must be enrolled in Chicago Public Schools.
  5. For students in temporary living situations, students who are provided specialized services, and enrolled in alternative schools or secure facilities, schools must comply with the requirements in the Board’s Enrollment and Transfer of Students in the Chicago Public Schools, Section 702.1, and CPS Guidelines for High School Transfer.

Policy References

Amends/Rescinds Rescinds 06-0222-PO2
Cross References 81-114-7; 81-201-2; 83-216-26; 83-216-27; 84-0411-ED7; 84-0718-RS3; 85-0925-ED5; 88-0309-ED7; 88-1026-ED13; 89-0222-PO1; 90-0716-RS3; 95-0222-RS3; 94-0323-PO1; 96-0327-PO1; 96-0828-PO3; 96-0828-PO4; 96-0925-PO1; 96-1120-PO3; 01-1128-PO3; 04-0128-PO3; 04-0225-PO4; 05-0126-PO2
Legal References 105 ILCS 5/26-2; 105 ILCS 5/26-2a; 105 ILCS 5/26-13; 105 ILCS 5/26-3b; 23 Ill. Admin. Code §1.290; 105 ILCS 5/34-4.5; 105 ILCS 45/1-1 et seq.
Public Comment Pursuant to Board Rule 2-6 this Policy was subject to Public Comment from 4/22/22 - 5/23/22

Policy Managed By Attendance and Truancy Department

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602