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Compulsory School Attendance

Code of VA §22.1-254, Except as otherwise provided in this article, every parent, guardian, or other person in the Commonwealth having control or charge of any child who will have reached their fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed their eighteenth birthday shall, during the period of each year the public schools are in session and for the same number of days and hours per day as the public schools, send such child to a public school or to a private, denominational or parochial school or have such child taught by a tutor or teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education and approved by the division superintendent or provide for home instruction of such child as described in §22.1-254.1.

The Commonwealth of Virginia law defines the responsibility of the school system when a student does not attend school regularly. When a student is absent from school, school personnel must attempt to notify the parent of the absence. After five unexcused absences (if school personnel have received no indication that the parent is aware of and supports the absence) school personnel must make contact with the parents to obtain a reason for the student’s absence and a plan must be developed to improve the student’s attendance. Upon the next unexcused absence, a conference must be scheduled with the parents to discuss attendance issues.

 If all of these interventions fail and the student continues to accrue unexcused absences, then the law empowers attendance officers to make a complaint with the Wise County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court alleging that the student is a Child In Need of Supervision (CHINS) or to file charges against the parent(s) relating to violations of the compulsory school attendance laws.

The following information may be obtained from the Wise County Public Schools Student Code of Conduct. For additional information pertaining to attendance, please consult the Code of Conduct.

 Attendance at school is the responsibility of parents and students. To assist parents in meeting their responsibility, the schools will make a reasonable effort to notify parents of student absences. It is recognized that absences from school may be necessary in certain circumstances. However, every effort should be made by students, parents, teachers, and administrators to keep absences and tardiness to a minimum, as regular school attendance is related to student success in school.

 So as to receive consideration for an excused absence, a note of explanation must be provided to the school by the parent/guardian upon return of the student to school.


Illness or injury of the student            Principal approved absence             Death in the family

 • Family Emergency                             Medical appointment                        Religious Holiday



Truancy, which shall include: absence of the student from school without the knowledge and permission of his/her parents or guardians or school authorities; absences of the student which are excessive and/or which interfere with the student’s educational program; absence of the student for any reason other than one approved by the principal.

 Skipping, cutting or leaving class without permission after reporting to school

Absences not accompanied by a note from the parent/guardian upon the student’s return to school

All absences not covered under excused absences                                 

             DID YOU KNOW:

  • Virginia Law requires a child to attend school all day every day until the age of 18 or until the completion of an approved program.

  • Five days of unexcused absences is considered a truancy problem.

  • The school attendance laws require students to attend for the full day so being tardy and leaving early are counted as part of truant behavior.

  • For compulsory school attendance purposes, three times tardy to school will count as one absence. A checkout will be treated as a tardy; therefore, three checkouts will equal one absence.

  • Every parent or guardian is responsible for their child’s regular and punctual attendance at school.

  • High school students can be sent to detention for failing to comply with compulsory school attendance or can lose their privilege to drive.

  • Parents or guardians can face fines or jail time for failing to follow the school attendance laws.



1.       Contact the school each day your child is going to be absent.

 2.       Send a note with your child explaining their absence.

 3.       If your child is ill and sees a doctor, get a medical excuse that explains how long your child needs to be out of school.

 4.       If your child has an ongoing medical condition that is affecting his/her ability to attend school, please make sure the school is aware.

 5.       Schedule family trips and appointments when school is not in session.

 6.       Support the school by setting consequences for your child if they go to school late or are absent from school.

 7.       Talk with your child about the importance of an education.

 8.       Parent notes may be submitted for the first five absences of each semester. After five unexcused or excused absences or a combination of both equaling to five within any semester, the student shall be required to provide a doctor’s excuse for the remainder of the semester in order for any absences to be excused. Excuses will not be accepted after the three-day limit.

 9.       Utilize Home Access Center to keep track of important school information such as your child’s grades and attendance. If you have not signed up for Home Access Center, you can contact your child’s guidance counselor to receive login information.

 10.    Provide updated contact information such as phone number and address to the schools regularly. You may contact the school to update your information or you may submit updated information online using the link provided on the Wise County Public Schools website, located under the Parents tab.