Attendance

ACT No. 2012-295
The compulsory attendance age has been lowered from age 7 to age 6. However, "the parent, legal custodian, or guardian of a child who is six years of age, may opt out of enrolling their child in school at the age of six years by notifying the local school board of education, in writing that the child will not be enrolled in school until he or she is seven years of age." 
 
If you choose to "opt out" - a written letter (including the child's full legal name, date of birth, and the current home address) should be mailed to the following:
Etowah County Board of Education 
Mrs. Dena Cook, Director of Student Services
3200 West Meighan Boulevard
Gadsden, AL 35904 
 
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Attendance
 
How is admission to public schools determined?
Admission to public school shall be on an individual basis on the application of the parents, legal custodian, or guardian of the child to the local board of education at the beginning of each school year, under such rules and regulations as the board may prescribe. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-3
 
Who is required to attend school?
Every child between the ages of seven and 16 must attend a public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a competent private tutor for the entire length of the school term except that every child attending a church school is exempt from the requirements of Ala. Code (1975)§16-28-3, provided such child complies with the enrollment and reporting procedure specified in Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-7 of the code. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-3
 
What is the minimum age for admission to public schools?
a. A child who is six years of age on or before September 1 (2)* or the date on which school begins in the enrolling district shall be entitled to admission to the public elementary schools at the opening of such schools for that school year or as soon as practicable thereafter.
b. A child who becomes six years old on or before February 1 may, with the approval of the local board of education, be admitted at the beginning of the second semester in school systems having semiannual promotions of pupils.
c. A child who is five years of age on or before September 1 (2)* or the date on which school begins in the enrolling district is entitled to admission to the kindergarten program at the beginning of the school year or as soon as practicable thereafter.
d. Kindergarten or Grade 1 students who were enrolled in an Alabama private school, church school, or were being tutored in accordance with the Ala. Code (1975) and who seek admission to kindergarten or Grade 1 in the public schools must meet the age requirements for admittance as of September 1 (2)* or the opening date of school in the enrolling district. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-4 Report of Attorney General of Alabama October-December 1963 Volume 113, page 20
 
What are the requirements for Kindergarten and Grade 1 out-of-state transfers?
a. An underage child who transfers from the first grade of a school in another state may be admitted, but must have the approval of the local board of education.
b. An underage child who has moved into this state and has completed a mandated kindergarten program in another state shall be entitled to admission to the public elementary school.
c. An underage child who transfers to Alabama from the public school kindergarten in another state may be admitted, but must have prior approval of the local board of education. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-4
 
What state regulations relate to required school and absences from state schools?
A. Attendance Required Children between the ages of seven and 16 years are required to attend a public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a competent private tutor for the entire length of the school term in every scholastic year except that every child attending a church school as defined by Alabama law (Ala. Code §16-28-1) is exempt from this requirement, provided such child has met the requirements as specified for enrollment and reporting.
B. Absences
1. Explanation Required
a. Every parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of any child required to attend public school, private school, or church school, shall as soon as practical explain the cause of any absence of the child under his control or charge which was without permission of the teacher.
b. Failure to furnish such explanation shall be admissible as evidence of such child being a truant with the consent and connivance of the person in control or charge of the child, unless such person can show to the reasonable satisfaction of the court that he had no knowledge of such absence and that he had been diligent in his efforts to secure the attendance of such child. Authority: Ala. Code (1975) §16-28-15
2. Excused Absences
a. Illness.
b. Death in immediate family.
c. Inclement weather which would be dangerous to the life and health of the child as determined by the principal.
d. Legal quarantine.
e. Emergency conditions as determined by the principal.
f. Prior permission of the principal upon request of the parent or legal guardian.
3. Unexcused Absences - Any absences not excused shall be considered unexcused.

Can a student be retained in a grade merely because of a certain number of unexcused absences?
Yes, assuming the school board has, and carefully complies with, a policy relating attendance to academic achievement.
 
Who can parents/guardians contact for more information?
Mrs. Dena Cook, Director of Student Services
(265) 549-7587
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