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Attendance Guidelines for
Mesquite High School 2017-2018

Calling in for absent student’s (972) 882-7888:
 Any time a student is absent from school, the parent or guardian of the student should call the school attendance office by 10:00 a.m. Please leave a message with the reason for the absence, name (please spell last name), and grade.  All absences are considered unexcused if we do not receive a call, and students are not permitted to make up the work missed in class. 

Assistant Principal – Attendance
Pam Bell 972-882-7810

Attendance Secretaries 
Nora Villarreal 972-882-7888
Leslie Moreno 972-882-7888
Marlene Garcia 972-882-7888

Excused absences:  Absences are excused if a student attends a doctor/dentist appointment or has a court date and can provide original documentation upon return.  Students who are ill are excused if the parent calls in for them on the day of the absence.  Students are allowed 3 call-ins per year.  If a student is excessively absent due to illness, he or she will need a doctor’s note for any future absences.  A student who misses three days of school consecutively must have an original doctor’s note to excuse the absences. Students who attend the funerals of family members and provide original documentation such as the program from the service will be excused for that one day.

Missing school for a doctor/dentist appointment or required court appearance: According to the State of Texas, a student who is in attendance for a portion of the school day (in our case, at least half of one period) and then attends a medical appointment or a required court appearance they will be counted present if the student submits an original and dated doctor’s note or court paperwork upon his or her return.  This allows the student to maintain his or her semester exam exemptions in the classes they missed.  We allow students up to one week to return the doctor/court note, but the absence is marked “unexcused” until the note is turned in to the office. Please note that unexcused absences prevent students from doing any make-up work from the class (es) missed.  Unexcused absences that accumulate could result in a complaint being filed with the court for truancy.  Also, forgery or tampering of doctor/dental notes is a crime and will be prosecuted if discovered.

Unexcused absences:  Going out of town, interviewing for a job, taking the driving test, visiting family, running errands, babysitting, taking vacations, or other “personal” reasons are not considered excused absences; and students will not be permitted to make up assignments missed.  Our expectation at MHS is that our students will be present every day that school is in session.  Still, certain situations arise which require students to miss school. We ask that parents work with the school to keep those situations to a minimum.  Please make every effort to schedule personal business appointments outside the school day.

Arriving late or leaving early:  When situations do arise where students miss a portion of the school day, it is essential that they sign in or out.  This is the school’s documentation of their whereabouts when they are not in school.  Students that arrive to school after 8:45 a.m. will report to class and sign the teacher’s tardy log and will receive a tardy.  Students who arrive after 8:55 will report to the Attendance Office and receive an Excessive Tardy Office Referral which will serve as their tardy pass to class. Students that need to leave early will sign out at the front kiosk by the library.  Students who leave early without signing out will be marked “unexcused” from the classes missed.  If the student drives to school, parent or guardian listed on the student’s contact list must contact the school prior to the early release.  We ask that parents or guardians call the school in the morning if a student will be late to school that day due to illness or other extenuating circumstances.  As a general rule, we do not excuse absences for students who leave school early for reasons other than their own medical needs. If a student feels ill and needs to go home, he or she must first go to the clinic. Our school nurse will make parent contact and release the student from school.  Students should never leave of their own accord during the school day without receiving parental permission and signing out. To do so will result in an unexcused absence being recorded and an appropriate disciplinary measure being assessed. *Students will not be released early after 3:30; they will wait until regular release time.

Tardies:  The State of Texas does not distinguish between a student being tardy and being absent.  It is a courtesy that MHS does provide a tardy policy which provides some flexibility for the times that students are a few minutes late to class.  However, if a student is excessively late to class (10 minutes is considered excessively tardy in all class periods), they will be counted partially absent and it will be unexcused.  These absences will be counted when identifying students that will be considered truant.  The expectation is that students will be in class and be on time.

Truancy Laws:  According to the State of Texas, children between the ages of six and nineteen are required to attend school each day for the entire period that the school’s program of instruction is provided.  If a student is eighteen or older and they are enrolled in school, they are held accountable for their attendance under Texas law.  Students who accumulate ten or more unexcused absences in a class in a six-month period are considered truant by the State of Texas.  When this occurs, it is the legal responsibility of the school district to file a complaint with the proper court against both the parent or guardian and the student. This information is found on page 17-21 of the Student Handbook.

Credit for Classes:  The State of Texas requires that a student must be in a class 90% of the time it meets in order to receive credit.  On block scheduling that means that a student can only miss a class 5 times (whether excused or unexcused) and still receive credit for that class. If unusual circumstances cause a student to exceed this limit, he or she can make up lost time through our recoup program.  Announcements are made periodically, and signs are placed throughout the building which give the times and dates.  Students are encouraged to see their administrators for more details.  Important:  Credits are awarded and denied at the end of each semester, and recoup cannot be served for a class after credit has already been denied. Therefore, recoup for first semester classes must be done during the first semester.  This information is found on pages 20, 31, and 64 of the Student Handbook. NOTE:  Truancy laws deal with unexcused absences only.  Credit for classes involves unexcused and excused classes.  A student going to recoup in order to make up lost time does not affect whether a truancy case has or will be filed. 

College Days:  Each junior and senior is allowed to take two college days per year and still maintain his or her semester exam exemption status.  The spirit of the college day policy is to allow a student to travel out of town to visit a school that could not be seen fully in an afternoon after school.  Students are advised to speak with the attendance office before making arrangements, in order to ensure that the college visit will be honored.  Upon returning, an original letter or other requested documentation from the visited college or university must be submitted which verifies the student’s visit on that day.  We do not accept faxes or photocopied letters.  This information is found on page 18 of the Student Handbook.

Exemption Policy:  A student may be exempt from the semester exam in a class if he or she meets the following criteria:

*Student must have a semester passing average in class with no absences


*Student must have a semester average of 85 with (1) absence
AND in addition

*Student cannot have been assigned to an alternative program or been suspended   (including ISS/ISIP) during the semester.

Absence Exception:  Junior and Senior students are allowed two college visitation days each year without penalty; however the student must provide documentation to verify attendance.
During the first semester, exempted students will be required to attend class during examination days.  During the second semester, exempted students will not be required to attend class during examination days.  This information is found on page 42 of the Student Code of Conduct.

Automated Calling System:  Mesquite High utilizes an automated system to make a courtesy call when a student misses any portion of the school day.  A call will also be made when a student is counted tardy in a class.  This system uses the contact information that we have on file at the school.  Therefore, it is very important to keep these numbers updated if they change during the school year.