Back to school
About 1,500 students will enter the various doors of Clay County Schools for the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 19. Interim school superintendent Scott Penland said enrollment numbers are never final until school starts. “Some people move in and have not enrolled their children yet, while others have moved away and have not withdrawn their kids,” he explained.
Hayesville Elementary School will have the largest number of students with about 650 from pre-k through fourth grade. Hayesville Mid- dle School and Hayesville High School should each have about 450 students. Regardless of how many students there are, Clay County Schools will be working harder to enforce attendance policies for all of them. Some policies are the same, but others have been changed and all students and their parents or guardians need to be aware. To reiterate this, the schools placed an ad with complete information in the Clay County Progress.
Penland shared the most important aspects of Clay County Schools Policy Code: 4400 Attendance. According to the policy, North Carolina law requires all children from kindergarten through age 16 to attend school. When students do not attend regularly, academic progress is harder to maintain. Ultimately, parents and legal guardians are held accountable for student attendance. For preschool students, slots are very limited; therefore, a student may lose a preschool spot if attendance is not regular. Two changes which may impact attendance is the amount of time a student must be present when only attending for a partial day. Students who are tardy or coming in late for any reason must report to school by 10:30 a.m. and remain the rest of the day in order to be counted present for the day. Students who need to leave school early must arrive on time that day and are not al- lowed to leave prior to 12:30 p.m. Otherwise, he or she will not be counted present.
In addition, students who miss school must provide a written excuse to the student’s teacher within two days of returning to school after being absent and no excuses will be accepted after the second day of returning to school. The excuse must be signed by a parent or guard- ian, but absences related to extended illness may require a physician’s statement. No more than 10 absences, tar- dies or early dismissals excused by a parent note will be accepted.
After the tenth parent note excuse, any additional absences, tardies or early dismissals will require a doctor’s excuse to be excused as sick or medical appointment. Acceptable excused absences are listed on the attendance policy. Not only can grades suffer, but students who are excessively tardy to school or class may be suspended for up to two days.
If absences are excessive, the individual principal will notify the parents and take other steps required by gen- eral statutes. The student and student’s family may be re- quired to meet with the Clay County Early Intervention Team in order to determine
the circumstances and find a solution for the student’s excessive absences or tardiness. This team includes the assistant district attor- ney, a juvenile justice court counselor, Department of Social Services, school nurse, counselor, principal, social worker, along with others who may be able to help improve student attendance. “The group’s goal is to find out why this is happening. It will be ‘can we help you?” Penland continued. “In the end, the assistant D.A. will prosecute if it is not resolved, but that’s not what we want to do. We can’t do our job if this is happening too much.”
Another change to the schools is the addition of a day treatment program. “It was approved and services will be offered through Appalachian Counseling Services,” Penland said. “This will help a lot.”
Adult family members sometimes need help of a different kind. With all students listed on PowerSchool, it is important for guardians to be able to access the information there. Students are often more tech savvy than adults who did not grow up with the same technology. For those parents and guardians who need some assistance, contact your student’s school. “Every school has a data manager,” Penland said. “The data manager for your school can lead you through the technology and even help you set it up,” Penland added. “Ask your child’s teacher, the school principal or assistant principal.”
School information, such as contact information, at- tendance policy and more can be found at: www.clayschools.org.