Student Services » Attendance Education & Compliance

Attendance Education & Compliance

Daily School Attendance
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Daily school attendance is essential to the educational success of each student. Students are expected to be in school and in class on time in order to receive full benefit from the instructional programs of the School District of DeSoto County. Parents are expected to notify the school when their child is absent according to individual school guidelines. (Florida Statute 1003.24, School Board Policy 5200)
School attendance is required of all students who have attained the age of six (6) years or will have attained the age of six (6) years by February 1st of any school year through the age 16, unless otherwise exempt by law. (Florida Statute 1003.21 (1)(a)(b), School Board Policy 5112)

  • high school student must be in attendance minimally for four periods in a traditional seven-period day (200 minutes) OR three block periods (270 minutes) to be considered present for the day.


  • middle school student must be in attendance minimally for four periods of the day (200 minutes) to be considered present for the day.


  • An elementary school student must be in attendance minimally for half of the school day (200 minutes) to be considered present for the day.
What is the significance of school attendance?
Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days can negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s approximately two days a month and that’s known as chronic absence.
When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for graduating.
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If a student has accrued at least five (5) unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or ten (10) unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown within a ninety (90) calendar day period or has had more than fifteen (15) unexcused absences in a ninety (90) calendar day period he/she meets the definition of truant.
The following are potential ramifications for truancy:
A truancy petition may be filed: The Superintendent is authorized to file a truancy petition under F.S. 984.151 if a student has accrued at least five (5) unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or ten (10) unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown within a ninety (90) calendar day period or has had more than fifteen (15) unexcused absences in a ninety (90) calendar day period.
Driving privileges may be suspended: Florida Statute requires each school district to report to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles the names of all minors between 14 and 18 years of age who accumulate fifteen (15) unexcused absences in any 90-day period. Students whose names have been submitted will not be issued a driver’s license or learner driver’s license, and any previously issued license will be suspended.
Suspension of state benefits (Learnfare Program): Families receiving state benefits may have their benefits suspended if their child,between the ages of 6 and 18 years, has 15 or more unexcused absences. The School District of DeSoto County, as required by law, sends this information to the State of Florida Department of Education on a regular basis. (Florida Statutes 1003.23, 1003.24, 414.1251; School Board Policy 5200, 5751)

There must be communication between the school and home regarding each absence. On the day of the absence, contact must be made with the student’s individual school (phone call or email). Written excuses shall be required of all students upon their return to school following an absence. Failure to provide a written excuse may result in an unexcused absence. Please see the definitions in the sections below pertaining to excused and unexcused absences.
Excused Absences
An absence will be recorded as excused for the following reasons:
  • Personal illness of the student (medical evidence may be required by the principal or designee for absences exceeding five (5) consecutive days).
    Court appearance of the student.
  • Medical appointment of the student.
  • Pregnancy related issues (School Board Policy 5751).
  • Approved school activity.
  • Insurmountable conditions. Insurmountable conditions are extreme weather conditions, communicable disease outbreaks, and local conditions determined by the School District which, after taking into account the material circumstances, would render impracticable a student's attendance at school. (F.A.C. 6A-1.09513)
  • Other absences with prior approval of the principal or designee.
  • Attendance at a center under Children and Families Services supervision.
  • Significant community events with prior permission of the Principal.
  • Religious instruction or religious holiday.
  • Death in the immediate family.
  • Appointments for a therapy service provided by a licensed health care practitioner or behavior analyst certified pursuant to Florida law for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder including, but not limited to, applied behavioral analysis, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
Absences not included in excused absences listed above shall be unexcused. Note: School-sponsored trips, extracurricular activities, assemblies, and internal suspensions are not considered absences.
Unexcused Absences
A student’s absence will be recorded as unexcused for the following reasons:
  • Absent from school or class without the knowledge and permission of his/her parents or guardian or school authorities.
  • Absent from school without documentation that aligns with the reasons for excused absences (refer to the “Excused Absence” section under “Types of Absences”).

Attendance Committees & Attendance Contracts

The School District of DeSoto County monitors student attendance very closely. Elementary students accumulating more than five (5), or secondary students accumulating more than ten (10), chronic/excessive excused or unexcused absences or absences which occur in patterns week by week at any time during the school year may be referred to the Attendance Committee, placed on Attendance Contract, and/or be required to provide documentation at the request of the principal. Failure to provide adequate documentation may result in absences being considered unexcused.
All absences occurring after the implementation of an Attendance Contract will automatically be counted as unexcused unless they are in one of the following categories and are accompanied by documentation. Absences due to suspensions count toward the tolerated absences. All documentation is due at the school no later than 2 days after the absence. Any hardships with obtaining documentation will be referred to the principal. 
A. Illness of student. (Documentation: Doctor’s note or proof of hospitalization)
B. Serious illness or death in student’s immediate family, including significant other. (Documentation: Doctor’s note, obituary notice, death certificate, etc.)
C. Students excluded from school for head lice or nits. (Documentation: Note from school nurse)
D. Doctor or dental appointments. Parents are encouraged to schedule appointments after school hours. (Documentation: Appointment card from the doctor or dentist)
E. Health issues as they relate to pregnant teens, teenage mothers and/or their children. (Documentation: Note from doctor)
F. Legal matters. (Documentation: Subpoenas, letter from a judge/attorney, copies of documents)
G. Religious holidays/training of the student’s specific faith or religious instruction.
H. Students shall be excused from any examination, study, or work assignment for observance of a religious holiday or because the tenets of his/her religion forbid secular activity at such time. (Documentation: Proof of legitimacy of holiday)
I. Special honors and/or awards. (Documentation: Letter citing the invitation)

School Board Policies
School Board Policy 5112
School Board Policy 5200
School Board Policy 5751