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Excused absences are when school-aged students are absent from school
with a valid excuse and parental approval. Excused absences include:

  • Student illness (a doctor’s note is required if a student is absent
    for more than 5 days)
  • Medical reasons such as a doctor’s appointment (a doctor’s note is
    required within 48 hours of appointment)
  • Death in immediate family
  • Student required to attend a judicial proceeding as plaintiff,
    defendant, witness or juror
  • Religious holiday
  • Temporary school closing due to weather, unsafe conditions or other
  • Visiting military parent
  • DC public transportation issues
  • Authorized school activity by administration and/or academic/art
    department approval only (i.e. college visits, field trips, internships,

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

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

Truancy is the unexcused absence from school by a minor (5-17 years of
age) with or without approval, parent knowledge or consent. All uniformed
law enforcement officers in the District are responsible for truancy

  • If a truant is picked up by the police, he or she will be transported
    in a police vehicle to Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
  • Parents are notified of the student’s truancy status.
  • Parents and students attend a truancy conference.

Full Day Absence: Students who miss 20% of the day will receive an
unexcused absence for the full day.

Excuse Notes: The parent/guardian has 5 days to provide an excuse note
and/or a doctor note after students’ return to school from absence. If the
Attendance Counselor does not receive notice within that time frame, the
excuse will not be accepted. Again, the Attendance Counselor must receive
the notice for it to be excused.

Extended Absences: In the case of an extended absence due to illness for
five days or more, the parent/guardian must provide documentation from the
student’s doctor indicating the cause of their absence upon student’s
return to school in order for the absences to be excused. Additional services may be provided through the Office of Student Affairs.

Student Support

  • 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.
  • Course grades or year-end promotion may will be affected by unexcused

For more information on the District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) Attendance Policies and Frequently Asked Questions, visit

Attendance Counselor

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