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Maryland's Compulsory Attendance Law Changes - Effective July 1, 2017

Children between the ages of 5 and 18 must attend a public school regularly during the entire school year unless otherwise enrolled in a private school or registered in a home instruction (home schooling) program.

Parent/Guardian is Responsible:

Each person who has in their custody a child between the ages of 5 and 18 must ensure that the child attends school or receives regular thorough instruction, as required above.

Daily School Attendance is a WCPS Expectation

  • A WCPS student misses valuable instruction anytime he/she is absent.  Every day is important!
  • Every child is expected to attend school daily, unless he/she is ill or has another exceptional circumstance.
  • All absences after 12 days require official documentation  (ie., medical note, legal documentation).
  • Parent must provide a written note explaining the circumstances for all absences.

Examples of Lawful Absences

  • Illness of child
  • Death in immediate family
  • Court summons

Examples of Unlawful Absences

Any child who is repeatedly absent will be contacted by school personnel.   Students with excessive absences will receive further intervention to encourage daily school attendance including:

  • Babysitting
  • Illness of a family member
  • Missing the bus
  • Oversleeping
  • Employment not approved by school
  • Vacation, unless approved by Principal

Attendance Interventions

  • Telephone notification to parent/guardian
  • Written notification to parent/guardian
  • Parent and/or student invited to attend Student Support (SST) meeting
  • Visits to student's home by school officials

Possible Consequences

  • Loss of credit or retention
  • Referral to appropriate agencies - Department of Social Services and/or Juvenile Services/Diversion Program
  • Legal action

Charges may be filed in District Court of Maryland by Washington County Public Schools.

Unlawful absences may lead to a parent or guardian being found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine not to exceed $50.00 per day or imprisonment not to exceed 10 days or both (MD EDUC Law, Sect.  VII-301).

Attendance Tips

How Can Parents Encourage Daily Attendance?

  • Let children know attendance every day is important.
  • Communicate with school staff.
  • Send a written excuse to school on the same day the child returns to school after being absent.
  • Read the Student Handbook to become familiar with the information about daily school attendance.
  • Observe the school schedule.
  • Plan vacations during official school break times.
  • Establish and maintain a daily routine.
  • Praise your child when he/she exhibits good attendance and promptness.
  • Encourage involvement in extracurricular activities.
  • Reach out for help from school staff and/or other agencies, if necessary.

Student Responsibilities

  • Attend school and all classes each day school is in session.
  • Be on time for school every day.
  • Participate in school work, prepare for all classes, complete all assignments and follow directions given by teachers.
  • Take personal responsibility for all actions and behaviors.