Student Services - Attendance Rules

Attendance Rules for Greenville County Schools

In South Carolina, All children are required to attend a public or private school or kindergarten beginning at age five (5) and continuing until their 17th birthday. If a child is not six years of age on or before the first day of September in a particular school year, parents guardians may choose not to send their children to kindergarten; however, they must sign a waiver which may be obtained at the local school.

In accordance with the South Carolina Compulsory School Attendance Law, the School District of Greenville County has adopted uniform rules to ensure that students attend school regularly. Each day that students are not in school, they miss hours of valuable instruction and opportunities for learning that they will not have again. Students are counted present only when they are actually in school, on homebound instruction, or are present at an activity authorized by the school principal.  A student is considered in attendance when present for at least three (3) hours of a school day.

All absences beginning with the first shall be approved or disapproved by the board's designee, the building principal. In making this decision, the principal shall be guided by the procedures as presented herein. Decisions regarding approval of absences and eligibility for credit may be appealed in accordance with district policy.

Any student who misses school must present a written excuse, signed by his or her parent or legal guardian or a health care professional, for all absences within two (2) days of the student’s return to school.  The written excuse should include the reason for and the date of the absence.  If a student fails to bring a valid written excuse to school, his or her absence will be recorded as unlawful. Schools will use the criteria below when deciding whether an absence is lawful or unlawful.

Lawful Absences

  • Absences caused by a student's illness and whose attendance in school would endanger his or her health or the health of others. These absences must be verified by a physician statement within two (2) days of the student's return to school.
  • Absences due to an illness or death in the student's immediate family verified by a statement from the parent within two (2) days of the student's return to school.
  • Absences due to a recognized religious holiday of the student's faith when approved in advance. Such requests must be made to the principal in writing.
  • Absences for students whose parents/guardians are experiencing a military deployment. Specifically absences when the parent or legal guardian of a student 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, shall be excused as long as such absences are reasonable in duration as deemed by the principal so that the student can visit with his or her parent or legal guardian relative to such leave or deployment of the parent or legal guardian.
  • Absences due to activities that are approved in advance by the principal. This would include absences for extreme hardships. Such approval should be prearranged when possible.

 Unlawful Absences

  • Absences of a student without the knowledge of his or her parents
  • Absences of a student without acceptable cause with the knowledge of his or her parents.
  • Suspension is not to be counted as an unlawful absence for truancy purposes.

Approval of Absences in Excess of Ten (10) Days and Approval Credit

Absences

For students in grades K-12, principals shall promptly approve or disapprove any student's absence in excess of ten (10) days, whether those absences are lawful, unlawful, or a combination of the two.  A student does not exceed the 10 day absence limit until the student has reached his or her 11th unlawful absence.

Carnegie Credit

The school year consists of 180 school days.  To receive credit, high school students or students in middle school taking courses for graduation credit must attend at least 85 days of each 90-day semester course and at least 170 days of each 180- day year course, as well as meet all minimum requirements for each course.

In order to receive high school credit after the 10th unlawful absence, “seat time recovery” is required for every subsequent absence that is unlawful.  (Note: the 10 day absence limit applies to each 180-day course and should be considered 5 days for each 90-day course.).  A student must attend the majority of a class session during a school day to receive credit for that class.

Truancy

Although the state requires students to only attend 170 of the 180-day school year, parents and students should be aware that SC Code of Regulations - Chapter 43-274 stipulates that a child ages 6 to 17 years is considered truant when the child has three consecutive unlawful absences or a total of five unlawful absences. For purposes of this section (truancy and compulsory attendance), a parent may provide up to 10 parent notes excusing a student illness or an absence related to an immediate family member’s illness or death.  However, in order for any subsequent absence related to an illness to be lawful it must be supported by a physician statement/medical note. 

Tardiness

Punctuality is one of the most important skills that a person can learn. It is a skill that directly correlates to an individual’s success in the business world. Parents should have students at school on time each day. Furthermore, secondary students are expected to be in their individual classes on time. Late arrival (tardiness) results in interruptions to the learning process – not only for the tardy student but for the other students in the class as well. Additionally, the tardy student misses important instruction. Each school has guidelines for the disciplinary consequences for tardiness.

What Do I Do If My Child Refuses To Go To School?
First, call the attendance clerk at your child’s school and report the problem. If your child continues to miss school unlawfully, an administrator from your child’s school will schedule an intervention conference with you and your child. At that time a plan will be devised to improve your child's attendance. If your child continues to miss school unlawfully, his/her case will be referred to an attendance supervisor or social worker. The attendance supervisor or social worker will convene a conference with you and your child regarding his/her attendance problem. If your child continues to miss school unlawfully, the case may be referred to Family Court for further intervention.