Compulsory School Attendance & Unlawful Absences


The PA Department of Education has requested schools to monitor absenteeism with greater scrutiny. PDE has defined chronic absenteeism to include any student who is absent for 18 days or more in the school year, regardless of cause. PDE further defines a school day as one where the student receives four or more hours of classroom instruction.

For the 2019-2020 school year, both school board and student handbook policies will be modified in our effort to prevent chronic absenteeism by any student.

Central Columbia will be using a new metric to approve students’ educational trip requests and inclusion on school-sponsored field trips. This metric will be based on the requesting student’s academic standing, disciplinary and attendance records at the time of the trip, and the actual trip justification. There will also be a 5 day limit imposed on the amount of excused trip days granted to any student.

A maximum of 10 excused absences, verified by parental notification, will be allowed during any school year. For all absences beyond those 10 days, an excuse from a physician is mandated in order for an absence to be considered lawful. Physician excuses must include the date and time of the student’s visit to their office. This attendance policy complies with Pennsylvania’s compulsory attendance laws.

All student absences are treated as unlawful until our school receives a written excuse explaining the reason for an absence. Parents should submit the written explanation for any absences within three school days after the student’s return to school. If a written excuse is not provided within that time, the absence will be permanently counted as unlawful.

Students who are absent from school for 10 consecutive school days shall be dropped from the active membership roll unless the school is provided with evidence the absence is legal or compulsory attendance prosecution is being pursued.

A child is “truant” if the child has incurred three or more school days of unexcused absences during the current school year. A child is “habitually truant” if the child has incurred six or more school days of unexcused absences during the current year.


Jeff Groshek
Superintendent of Central Columbia School District

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