Compulsory Attendance Law

  • In accordance with G.S. 115C-378, every parent, guardian, or other person in North Carolina having charge or control of a student between the ages of 7 and 16 years shall cause such student to attend school continuously for a period equal to the time which the public school to which the student is assigned is in session. Every parent, guardian, or other person in North Carolina having charge or control of a child under age seven who is enrolled in a public school in grades Kindergarten through two shall also cause such child to attend school continuously for a period equal to the time which the public school to which the child is assigned shall be in session unless the child has withdrawn from school. No person shall encourage, entice, or counsel any such student to be unlawfully absent from school. The term "school" is defined to embrace all public schools and such non-public schools which have teachers and curricula that are approved by the State Board of Education.

    Taking Attendance 

    A.  Attendance must be taken each day of the school year. In order to be considered in attendance, a student (except for hospital/homebound or staggered kindergarten) must be present in the school for the school day or at a place other than the school with the approval of the appropriate school official for the purpose of attending an authorized school activity. Such activities may include field trips, athletic contests, student conventions, musical festivals, or any similar approved activity.

    B.  Except as noted in IV.A. above, a student must be present at least one-half of the school’s instructional day in order to be recorded present for that day.

    C.  Hospital/Homebound:

    If a student is confined at home or in a hospital, is unable to attend school, and is receiving homebound instruction from his/her home school/LEA, he/she is to be considered Hospital/Homebound. Once school/LEA personnel have made contact (a face-to-face meeting) with the student to provide instruction, the student should be counted PRESENT.
    The student should continue to be counted present for the span of time during which regularly scheduled hospital/homebound instructional services are delivered. (Supporting documentation should be maintained at the school.)
    Students who are identified as having a disability under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) or the corresponding Article 9 of Chapter 115C of the NC General Statutes, and whose IEPs are developed according to the specifications of those laws may be considered Homebound based on the IEP.
    The IEP of the above mentioned student(s) must be developed by a duly constituted multidisciplinary team familiar with the student’s unique, individual needs, using a variety of recent evaluative data and documentation. The IEP can legitimize an instructional day (or week) for a student with disabilities that is shorter than the instructional day (or week) for other, non-disabled students. In these cases the Homebound Attendance Policy can be applied.

    D.  Lawful Absences:

    The superintendent, principal, or teacher who is in charge of a school has the right to excuse a student temporarily from attendance on account of sickness or other unavoidable cause. (Below are the valid/lawful excuses for temporary nonattendance of a student at school.)
    1. Illness or Injury: When the absence results from illness or injury which prevents the student from being physically able to attend school.
    2. Quarantine: When isolation of the student is ordered by the local health officer or by the State Board of Health.
    3. Death in the Immediate Family: When the absence results from the death of a member of the immediate family of the student. For the purpose of this regulation, the immediate family of a student includes, but is not necessarily limited to, grandparents, parents, brothers, and sisters.
    4. Medical or Dental Appointments: When the absence results from a medical or dental appointment of a student.
    5. Court or Administrative Proceedings: When the absence results from the attendance of a student at the proceedings of a court or an administrative tribunal if the student is a party to the action or under subpoena as a witness. The Local Board of Education can be considered an administrative tribunal.
    6. Religious Observance: School principals are required to authorize a minimum of two excused absences each academic year for religious observances required by faith of a student or a student’s parents. The student shall be given the opportunity to make up any tests or other work missed due to this excused absence. (S.L. 2010-112)
    7. Educational Opportunity: When it is demonstrated that the purpose of the absence is to take advantage of a valid education opportunity, such as travel. Approval for such an absence must be granted prior to the absence. This would include, but is not limited to, a student serving as a legislative page or a governor’s page.
    8. Local School Board Policy: LEAs may excuse temporary or occasional absences for other reasons in accordance with local school board policies, provided that the student has been in attendance for at least one-half of a school day during the current school year.
    9. Absence related to deployment activities: - A student whose parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the uniformed services and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting for the purpose of visiting said parent or legal guardian. ( G.S. 115C-407.5Article V (E) )
    10. Child Care: Absences due to the illness or medical appointment during school hours of a child of whom the student is the custodial parent are to be coded excused (lawful). (G.S.115C-375.5) 

    Unlawful Absences:

    For students who are entitled to attend public school and who have enrolled in a public school, unlawful absence is defined as:

    1. A student’s willful absence from school with or without the knowledge of the parent; or
    2. A student’s absence from school for any reason other than those listed in Chapter 2, Section IV.D., under "Lawful Absences."
    3. When students are not permitted to attend school because they lack proper immunization. Code 2B in eSIS is suggested for immunization absence tracking.
      (G. S. 130A-155 - Description: The 2009-10 School Attendance and Student Account Manual policy for students who do not have the proper immunizations states that their absences, when not allowed to attend school for lack of immunizations are to be coded as suspensions. In discussions with the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, we have determined that a policy change is required to code the absence, due to a student’s lack of immunizations as an unlawful absence instead of suspensions beginning July 1, 2010.)

    Information obtained from the School Attendance and Student Accounting Manual at