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Attending school is required by DC law! Therefore, our goal at Duke Ellington School of the Arts is that our students attend school every day and on time. Besides, a missed day is a lost opportunity for learning.

Click here for Policies & Frequently Asked Questions

Please click here to review the DCPS attendance policies!

What do I do if my student will be absent from school?
The parent/guardian must communicate with the school. The preferable methods of notification are via email and written notice. However, phone calls are accepted. Notices must be submitted to the Attendance Counselor within 5 school days to be processed. The note must include your student’s name, date(s) of the absence, reason for absence and a parent/guardian’s signature. A doctor’s note is required after the fifth consecutive day due to illness. Absences without notes or those deemed not valid will be marked “unexcused.”

What is an excused and unexcused absence?
Excused absences are when students are absent from school with a valid excuse and parental approval.

The following reasons are classified as excused:

  • Illness of a child, for parenting students (a doctor’s note for the student’s child is required when the student is absent five or more cumulative days in a term);
  •  llness of the student (a doctor’s note is required for a student absent five or more cumulative days in a term);
  • Medical or dental appointments for the student;
  • Death in the student’s immediate family;
  • Exclusion by direction of the authorities of the District of Columbia, due to quarantine, contagious disease, infection, infestation, or other condition requiring separation from other students for medical or health reasons;
  • Necessity for a student to attend a judicial or administrative proceeding, or court-ordered activity, as a party to the action or under subpoena;
  • Observance of a religious holiday.
  • Religious event celebration outside of a religious holiday (up to five cumulative days);
  • Absences to allow students to visit their parent/guardian who is in the military, immediately before, during, or after deployment.
  • College visits for students in grades 9-12 (up to three cumulative days);
  • School visits for students in kindergarten through 8th grade (one day);
  • Absences of expectant or parenting students for a time period specified by their doctor and any accommodations mandated by law;
  • Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day; and
  • An emergency or other circumstance approved by DCPS.

Unexcused absences are when students are absent from school without a valid excuse, with or without parental approval.

  • Shopping
  • Babysitting
  • Vacation
  • Doing errands
  • Oversleeping
  • Cutting classes
  • Job hunting
  • Vacation
  • Parent’s illness 

Why am I getting an automated phone call about my student’s attendance?
Daily automated messages are sent to the parent/guardian primary number in our ASPEN reporting system if a student is absent from class(es).

What is full day Absence?
Students who miss more than 20% of their scheduled periods in a school day will, by law, be considered absent for the entire day. 

Do tardies equal absences?
No. Class absences equal class absences. However, tardies affect classroom grades and opportunities.

My student is 18 years old. Can they sign out of school without my permission?
No.  Even when students are 18 years old, a parent/guardian must approve school dismissals and absences.

What is truancy?
Being absent from school without reason.

How does attendance affect grading?
Grading and retention decisions related to student absences shall follow guidance articulated in DCMR Title 5, Chapters 21 and 22, and as described in the Attendance Policy.

  • Secondary students with five (5) or more unexcused absences in any class during a single advisory shall receive a grade reduction in that subject.
  • Secondary students with ten (10) or more unexcused absences in any class during a single advisory shall receive a grade of “FA” (failure due to absences) in that subject.
  • Secondary students accumulating thirty (30) or more unexcused absences in a course within a full school year shall receive a failing final grade in that course with a resulting loss of course credit.

A written grade appeal may be filed by a parent or student on behalf of any student receiving a reduced or a failing grade(s) due to unexcused absences. This appeal should be submitted to the local school principal.

What are the student supports for absences?

  • One or two absences – Teachers will notify the parent/guardian of student’s absence
  • Five (5) unexcused absences – Parent/guardian and student are required to have a Student Support Team meeting conducted by Attendance Counselor.
  • Seven (7) unexcused absences – Students will receive a Metropolitan Police Department/DCPS notification letter.
  • Ten (10) total absences – excused or unexcused – Student will be referred to the school’s Attendance Office for follow-up.
  • Fifteen (15) unexcused absences – Student will be referred to Court Social Services.

There are several intervention plans available for students requiring internal and external referrals and services.

For more information, please contact the Attendance Counselor at

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