Student absenteeism continues to be a problem that causes great concern for all schools. For a variety of reasons, there are students who are absent from school for excessive periods of time which in turn has a direct, negative affect on achievement, promotion, graduation, self-esteem and employment potential. Patterns that begin in the school often continue into adulthood. Students whose attendance is problematic “have been found to have less well-developed academic skills, hold lower status jobs, have more unstable job histories, experience higher levels of anti-social behaviours and substance abuse and, more frequently have criminal records” (Harte, 1994, pg 1). Although it may certainly be that a school attendance issue is another indication of the presence of greater concerns for the individual, we must, however, as part of our obligation of working with students in these crucial areas, look at ways of dealing appropriately with the student attendance issue. It is imperative that we try to identify the underlying reasons for the absenteeism and attempt to deal with them using strategies available to us. We thus will work together with all our community partners to deal with school attendance in a way that promotes dignity of the student.
Our obligations in this area are apparent through our Mission Statement. The Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board’s Mission Statement provides the foundation for all that we do and our school attendance policy and procedures are no exception.
Committed to a vibrant Catholic education,
we ensure quality learning experiences through community partnerships
that nurture each student in body, mind and spirit
and embrace the teachings of Christ,
giving witness to Gospel values.
As well as a moral obligation we also have a legal obligation to which we must adhere. The Education Act makes the obligation of the student to attend school very clear.
Every child who attains the age of six years...
shall attend an elementary or secondary school
on every day from the first day in September in that year
until the child attains the age of eighteen years. 2006, c.28, S5(i) [21,(1)]
As well, the consequences for both the student who does not attend as well as his/her parent or guardian are also made very clear in the Education Act.
A child who is required by law to attend school
and who refuses to attend or who is habitually absent from school
is guilty of an offense and, subject to the Provincial Offenses Act...
[Education Act, 30, (5)]
A parent or guardian of a child of compulsory school age
who neglects or refuses to cause the child to attend school is,
unless the child is legally excused from attendance,
guilty of an offense, and on conviction,
is liable to a fine of not more than $200.00...
[Education Act, 30(1)]