Lydster: not-absent resolution

my tale of woe

absent.truancy vs chronic absenceEarly in December, my daughter and some of her classmates were required to attend a workshop to determine what classes she could take for the next school year. She came home excited. Because she’s met so many requirements, she’ll be able to take more electives next year.

While she’s explaining this to her mother, I’m getting an automated telephone message from the high school saying that she was marked absent from school for periods three and four. Why, yes, she was absent from physics that day, for an authorized school activity. She was present for the physics lab during period four and handed in homework.

I call the school the next day. The phone menu says that I have to contact the office of the academy my daughter is assigned to. There are four academies in the school. But the Discovery office says that they can’t fix it because they only deal with actual absences. The teacher can fix this.

I call the teacher’s office. She’s out for the day. The substitute has a child in the school, so she knows that my tale of woe is true. She recommended talking with the guidance counselor.

A few hours later, the guidance counselor calls me back. She can verify that my daughter was at the authorized event for period three. She would write the teacher to correct the record for period four.


This is hardly the first time I’ve gone through this rigamarole. Nor am I the only one experiencing it. The mother of a freshman was baffled when she experienced a similar situation.

It appears that the school is better at tracking when a student is away for the whole day. My daughter went on a school trip to Montreal in the spring of 2019, but we got no robocalls. The problem seems to be tied to those in-school events of limited duration.

This may seem to be a small thing, but it happens frequently enough to become an annoyance. I don’t want to have to make two or three calls every time this happens.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Lydster: not-absent resolution”

  1. At the university level now, we’re asked to monitor attendance. Partly for Financial Aid reasons (a few years back we had an issue with a few people taking their financial aid checks and “running” – not attending classes and spending the money on other stuff, though I think the way payment is done now that’s no longer possible). Partly for retention, something we always have a problem with, but I’d argue it’s a “structural” problem – a lot of our student body works full time, has families, and has other emergencies that pull them out of school.

    This is one of those things I have a hard time being organized about and I admit I kind of resent having to do the monthly reports. Also, it generates a lot more e-mail traffic to deal with and similar, people sending me they’re “I’m sick” notes. (And of course, there might be a few people “gaming” the system). And it adds to my stress in a way: right now I have several students with loved ones (either parents or grandparents) in hospice and I hate to use the word “triggering” but after having lost my dad last summer it does bring up bad memories of all that for me. But of course I have to be tough and strong about it….

    Also when I report the numbers and it turns out someone WAS sick but neglected to tell me, they get irritated and apparently I’m supposed to read minds and KNOW why someone was absent? I don’t know.

    I understand the desire to know “did this person fail the class because they just couldn’t manage the material, or because they weren’t there for most of it” or “is this person taking advantage of financial aid” but there’s gotta be a better way than having us call roll daily and spend a half-hour each month filling out reports….

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