Van Ness Elementary School


1150 5th Street SE | Washington, DC 20003
(202) 727-4314



attendance law

The District of Columbia Compulsory School Attendance Law 8- 247 and DC Municipal Regulations Title V Ch. 21 govern mandatory school attendance and the ways schools must respond when students are truant. The Compulsory School Attendance Law states that parents/guardians who fail to have their children attend school are subject to the following:

· Truancy charges may be filed against the student or parent
· Neglect charges may be filed against the parent
· Parents may be fined or jailed
· School-aged students may be picked up by law enforcement officers during school hours for suspected truancy
· Students may be referred to Court Diversion and other community based interventions
· Parents and students may be assigned community service and placed under court supervision/probation


Truancy is the unexcused absence from school by a minor (5-17 years of age) with or without approval, parental knowledge, or consent.

Excused absences are when school-aged students are absent from school with a valid excuse and parental approval. Examples of excused absences include:
· Student illness (a doctor’s note is required if a student is absent for more than three days)
· Death in the student’s immediate family
· Necessity for a student to attend a judicial proceeding as a plaintiff, defendant, witness or juror
· Observance of a religious holiday
· Temporary school closings due to weather, unsafe conditions or other emergencies
· Medical reasons such as a doctor’s appointment (a doctor’s note is required)
· Emergency circumstances approved by the school

Unexcused absences are when school-aged students are absent from school without a valid excuse. Examples of unexcused absences include:
· Babysitting
· Doing errands
· Oversleeping
· Cutting classes
· Extended travel/vacation (domestic or international)

Missing School

Parents of students with five (5) unexcused absences will be requested to participate in a truancy conference

Parents of students with ten (10) total absences – excused or unexcused–will be requested to participate in an attendance conference

Students ages 5-13 with ten (10) unexcused absences will be referred to the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) for suspected educational neglect

When a student is absent from school a note or medical slip should be sent to Ms. Ferrier in the main office. You may also send an e-mail to The note should include the date(s) of the absence and the reason. Student absences without notes will be marked unexcused. Please note, that absences due to illness of more than 3 days requires a doctor's note.