An important change in how we count absences

October 20, 2017

Dear Parents/Guardians of Elementary Students:

When the second nine weeks begins on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, in Lexington County School District One, you will see a change in the way your child’s PowerSchool information shows whether your child is counted absent or present each day.

As you remember, the district considers students present only when they are actually at school, on homebound instruction or attending an activity authorized by the school such as field studies, athletic contests, music festivals, student conventions, etc. If absent, a student must present a written excuse signed by a parent/guardian, physician or other appropriate person within three days after returning to school, and the excuse must include the date the excuse is written, date of the absence, reason for the absence, telephone number where the parent/guardian may be reached and the required signature. If a student fails to provide a proper excuse, the excuse may be recorded as unexcused.

That part remains unchanged.

What does change is that when the second nine weeks begins on Tuesday, a student who misses 50 percent of his/her instructional day for any reason, whether the missed time is excused or unexcused, will be marked absent.

For instance, if a child’s school begins the instructional day at 7:40 a.m. and ends the instructional day at 2:25 p.m., he/she normally attends school for six hours and 45 minutes (405 minutes total). In order for that child to be counted present, he/she would need to attend school for at least three hours and 23 minutes (203 minutes).

This change comes about because of a change in a federal law that governs the United States K–12 public education policy, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In that law, the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights changed the definition of “absent.” Their new definition uses the minutes in a school day formula.

We believe that attendance is a key factor in student achievement and that any absence from school represents an educational loss. We recognize that some absences are unavoidable. We also know that during this first “change” year, this could be a little confusing. So, if you have any questions about this new definition of absent, feel free to call the district’s Central Services Office 803-821-1029 or email Matt McCormack at


Jeff Caldwell
Chief Student Services Officer
Lexington County School District One