Hawaii Public Schools' attendance policy is governed by state law and Board Policy 4140: Compulsory School Attendance Policy. It states: "The Department of Education shall make every effort to ensure student school attendance in accordance with the compulsory attendance law." The State of Hawaii's compulsory attendance law (Hawaii Revised Statutes 302A-1132) can be viewed here.
Students who are chronic absentees may be referred to Family Court. Pursuant to H.R.S. 571-11(2), Family Court can place a child under jurisdiction for truancy if the child is not attending school or is not receiving the educational services required by law.
A student is considered chronically absent after missing 15 or more days over the course of an entire school year. Research shows:
- Children chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
- By 6th grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.
- By 9th grade, good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than 8th grade test scores.
Here are a few practical tips to help support regular attendance
- Make sure your child keeps a regular bedtime, and establish a morning routine.
- For a younger child, lay out clothes and pack the backpack the night before.
- Ensure your child goes to school every day unless s/he is truly sick.
- Avoid scheduling vacations or doctor appointments when school is in session.
- Talk to your child's teacher and school counselor for advice if your child feels anxious about coming to school.
- Develop a back up plan for getting to school in the event something comes up. Call on a family member, neighbor, or another parent to take your child to school.
Improving attendance matters because it reflects (For research, see http://www.attendanceworks.org/research/):
- Exposure to Language: Starting in Pre-K, attendance equals exposure to language-rich environments especially for low-income children.
- Time on Task in Class: students only benefit from classroom instruction if they are in class.
- On Track for Success: Chronic absence is a proven early warning sign that a student is behind in reading by 3rd grade, failing courses middle and high school, and likely to drop out.
- College Readiness: Attendance patterns predict college enrollment and persistence.
- Engagement: Attendance reflects engagement in learning.
- Effective Practice: Schools, communities and families can improve attendance when they work together.