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Going to school just got even more important

When the student handbooks come out for the county’s elementary, middle and high school students for 2014-2015, the attendance policy will be noticeably be more stringent.
If a student has more than five unexcused absences, the penalties for the student and the parent and guardian become tougher in the next school year.
The high number of unexcused absences in 2013-2014 forced the change, say school officials.
“Our policy in the past allowed an unlimited number of absences,” assistant superintendent Jim Thompson informed school board members Monday night at the BOE meeting.
Thompson said 246 students in the last school term had 10 or more absences.
A modification to the policy also allows for five handwritten excuses from a parent or guardian, but after the fifth one more will be needed such as a medical excuse from a physician.
Under the updated policy, after five unexcused absences:
* A letter will be sent home notifying the parent, guardian or other person who has control or charge of a child of five (5) unexcused absences.  
* After two reasonable attempts, the school shall send a notice by first class mail or certified mail, return receipt requested.
* An appointment will be scheduled for the parent to meet with the attendance officer to discuss a plan for improving the child’s attendance and to prevent possible court intervention.
After six unexcused absences:
* A court referral may be made for either state court, juvenile court or both.
* Documentation will be given to the School Resource Officer for the purpose of obtaining a warrant for the enrolling parent, guardian, or other person. The School Resource Officer will determine the appropriate law enforcement agency to deliver notice to parent, guardian, or other person.
* Each law enforcement agency may choose to intervene prior to court action.
* Updated attendance records, including student’s attendance history will be supplied at the time of scheduled state court and as needed if unexcused absences continue.
* All juvenile complaints will be made to the Department of Juvenile Justice and updated attendance records will be provided at each grading period and as requested.
After seven unexcused absences:
Students 14 years old and older will be notified by first class mail that they have only three (3) unexcused absences remaining prior to violating the attendance requirements contained in subsection (a.1) of O.C.G.A. 40-5-22 regarding the denial of driver’s permits and licenses.