District Attendance Policy

The following is a summary of some of the Massachusetts General Laws pertaining to attendance:

School Attendance

Chapter 76, section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws states that all children between the ages of six and sixteen must attend school. A school district may excuse up to seven day sessions or fourteen half day sessions in any period of six months. In addition to this law, each school may have its own attendance policy with which parents/guardians should be familiar.

Notification and Contact Information

Chapter 76, section 1A of the Massachusetts General Laws states that parents/guardians must be provided each year with the instructions for calling a designated phone number at a designated time to inform the school of the absence of a student and the reason for the absence. In addition, parents/guardians must provide the school with a home, work or other emergency telephone number so that they may be contacted during the school day so the school may call and inquire about said absence.

Supervisor of Attendance

Chapter 76, section 19 of the Massachusetts General Laws states that each school committee must employ a supervisor of attendance. A supervisor of attendance has the power to apprehend and take to school any child who is truant and is required to investigate all cases where a child in the district fails to attend school.

What is a CRA (Child Requiring Assistance) Application?

Under Chapter 119 of the Acts of 2012, Governor Patrick signed an amendment into law that changes Children in Need of Services (“CHINS”) to Families and Children Engaged in Services (“FACES”). This modification impacts schools with regard to the filing of FACES applications. A “CRA” (Child Requiring Assistance) application may be filed in court by a school district if a school-aged child who is “habitually truant,” that is, who willfully fails to attend school for more than eight school days in a quarter, or who repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable regulations of his or her school. The Court’s authority pursuant to a CRA petition includes the power to place the child in the custody of the state agency known as the Department of Children and Families.

What is a 51A?

A 51A is a report of suspected child abuse or neglect that is filed with the Department of Social Services. Under Chapter 119, section 51A of the Massachusetts General Laws, a report can be filed on behalf of a child under the age of eighteen for educational neglect if a child is not attending school on a regular basis.

Parental Responsibility

Parents or guardians are legally responsible for ensuring that a child under their control attends school daily. It is a crime for a responsible parent or guardian not to cause such a child to attend school. If a child fails to attend school for seven day sessions or fourteen half day sessions within any six month period, the supervisor of attendance may file a criminal complaint in court against the responsible parent/guardian.

Inducing Absences

It is a crime to induce or attempt to induce a minor to miss school, or unlawfully to employ or to harbor a minor who should be in school.

For School Committee policies relating to attendance and absences in the Belmont Public Schools, please go to SC Policies - Crofts5003 and SC Policies - Crofts2005 

Vacations During School Days

School vacations are scheduled well in advance each year. In fact, notice is given during the previous school year. Taking children out of school when school is in session sends a negative message to the child about the importance of being in school. Teachers are not required to provide school work or make up work for such circumstances.

Extended Absence

District practice requires that students who will be out of school for more than 21 consecutive days / 3 weeks or 15 consecutive school days will be un-enrolled from our records and can only be re-enrolled upon return.  Because of high enrollment, a student whose extended absence triggers being un-enrolled may be assigned to a different elementary school upon their return due to assignment of newly enrolled students.

Extended time away from school can be difficult for children at any age.   In addition, when a family does decide to take an extended vacation, it is the family’s responsibility to prepare a home educational plan to ensure that the student is still being educated.  Please contact the Assistant Superintendent to develop this Homeschool Plan.