Attendance and Truancy Information

                                                 

 

                         Greensburg Salem Middle School
                        Attendance Information

 

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Greensburg Salem School District recognize that regular school attendance is necessary for your child to receive an appropriate education and enjoy academic success. At Greensburg Salem Middle School, we strive to ensure that all students have opportunities to thrive and will work with families that are struggling to meet attendance requirements. Information has been provided below that will help families communicate with school personnel and understand the policies and procedures that have been set to increase school attendance for all students throughout the year.


Submitting Excuses:

Students should submit all excuses to the GSMS main office. There is a bin on the counter that is labeled for students to drop off excuses at any time throughout the day. Excuses will be accepted up to 3 days after the absence. Excuse forms are included in the student handbook that is distributed on the first day of school. Failure to submit excuses will result in communication to the parents/guardians from the school. Please make sure that your excuse contains the following information:

  1.        The child’s name
  2.        The date(s) of the excuse
  3.        The reason for excuse
  4.        Parent signature

You may submit up to 10 parent excuses throughout the school year. These are for absences where the student is ill and stays home without seeing a physician. After 10 parent excuses, the student will be required to have a medical excuse for all future absences. Please utilize the form that is available in the Student Handbook or you can print the document from the side of this webpage.

 

 

Accepted Excuses:

- Parent note stating:
              a. that the child was ill and stayed home (up to 10 times throughout the school year)
              b. the child was absent for a funeral 

- Medical excuse stating:
              a. specific date(s) that the student was/will be absent under a doctor's supervision.
*We will not accept an excuse from a doctor that states that the student has a medical condition that may cause them to miss school. Medical excuses must have dates for particular absences signed by a qualifying physician.  

- Pre-approved vacations:

              a. If your child is going to miss school due to a family vacation for educational purposes, then you must submit a pre-approved vacation form to the office prior to the absences. It must be signed by the student's teachers and approved by the building principal. If the trip will result in missing more than 5 days of school, the district superintendant must approve the form as well. A Pre-Approved Vacation Form has been posted to this webpage for your convenience. Please download and print the document or your child can ask for a paper copy in the main office of the middle school. 

 

Truancy Letters:

If your child has missed multiple school days this year, you may receive one or more of the letters described below. Each letter contains important information regarding policies, procedures, and state laws regarding regular school attendance. Please utilize the contact information on each letter to communicate questions and concerns with Brian Higginbotham, GSMS Dean of Students. Truancy letters will be sent home for the following reasons:

3rd Unlawful Absence – This letter informs the family that the student has missed at least three days of school that have not been excused with a medical excuse, pre-approved vacation form, or parent note. The dates of the absences will be provided at the top of the letter. If you are unable to provide an excuse for the dates provided, you will be asked to set a meeting concerning your child’s attendance for the remainder of the school year.

4th Unlawful Absence - This letter informs the family that the student has missed at least four days of school that have not been excused with a medical excuse, pre-approved vacation form, or parent note. The dates of the absences will be provided at the top of the letter. If you are unable to provide an excuse for the dates provided, you will be asked to set a meeting concerning your child’s attendance for the remainder of the school year.

5th Unlawful Absence - This letter informs the family that the student has missed at least five days of school that have not been excused with a medical excuse, pre-approved vacation form, or parent note. The dates of the absences will be provided at the top of the letter. You will be required to set a Student Attendance Improvement Conference at this time. At this conference, you will help create a Student Attendance Improvement Plan that is individualized to meet the needs of the student. We will discuss the best resources available to ensure that the child can be successful academically by understanding and meeting the attendance standards set forth by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

7 Day Absence – This letter informs the families that the student has missed at least seven days of school this year for any reason, including:

  •      Unlawful absences
        - no excuse provided
        - parent excuse after 10 submissions
        - unapproved vacation requests
  •      Lawful absences such as:
        - medically excused absences
        - pre-approved vacation
        - illness with a parent excuse
        - school suspension
        - funerals

You may be required to set a Student Attendance Improvement Conference at this time. If a conference is required, the time and date will be provided in the letter. Every effort will be made to contact families in advance and accommodate the schedules of the family to attend the conference. At this conference, you will help create a Student Attendance Improvement Plan that is individualized to meet the needs of the student. We will discuss the best resources available to ensure that the child can be successful academically by understanding and meeting the attendance standards set forth by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

10 Day Absence – This letter informs the family that the student has missed at least 10 days of school this year for any reason (See 7 Day Absence for qualifying absences). The student will now be required to provide medical excuses for all future absences. If a SAIC has not been scheduled, one will be scheduled at the time of the letter’s distribution. Again, every effort will be made to contact families in advance and accommodate their schedules to attend.


Legal Procedures:

After 6 unlawful absences, charges may be filed with the magistrate concerning your child's truancy. Additionally, the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau will be contacted to alert them of the charges that have been filed. A summons will be mailed to your current address and you will be required to appear in court to defend your child's attendance before the magistrate. 


Community Based Truancy Prevention Progams:

In some instances, the school will ask families to participate in community based programs that can help divert truancy and get the student back on track. These programs meet with families outside of school hours to help them diagnose issues that may prevent success and establish better habits for the student and family within the home. Use the links below to further investigate the services that these local programs provide. 

 

Justice Works - Why Try Program 
Link to Why Try Program from Justice Works

George Junior Republic - Preventative Aftercare Program

Link to George Junior Republic Preventative Aftercare


School and Class Tardiness:

 

Students are required to attend school and class on time. GSMS starts the school day at 7:35am on a regular schedule*. If a student is tardy to school or a class 4 times they will receive a lunch detention, after-school detention, or other appropriate punitive arrangements made at the discretion of school administration. 

 

 

*Please consult the school district website, local news outlets, and other forms of mass district communication for adjusted school schedules and calendars due to inclement weather. 


Class Absences:

The safety and well being of our students is a priority of the faculty and staff of GSMS. Teachers take great care of our students throughout the day and if a student is unaccounted for at any time it is of great concern. Students that are found to be skipping class will be subject to displine that may include lunch detention(s), after-school detention(s), or other appropriate punitive arrangements made at the discretion of school administration. 


Methods of Communication:

Please feel free to reach out anytime you have a question or concern regarding attendance at GSMS. Use the information below to communicate effectively regarding your child. 

Brian S. Higginbotham
GSMS Dean of Students
Phone 724-832-2942
| Fax 724-832-2937
Brian.Higginbotham@gslions.net