SOUTH BRUNSWICK – If a child misses 10 consecutive days of school for a non-medical reason, they will be disenrolled from the district under a new attendance policy adopted by the South Brunswick Board of Education.
The board – Board President Joyce Mehta, Board Vice President Mike Mitchell and members Deepa Karthik, Raja Krishna, Ray Kuehner, Smitha Raj, Lisa Rodgers and Barry Nathanson – unanimously adopted the attendance policy on June 21.
Board member Joseph Scaletti was not present at the meeting.
Superintendent of Schools Scott Feder said after a disenrollment, a child can re-enroll. He said he does not expect it to be “a crazy process.”
“Let’s say I was a parent here and taking my child to Disney World for a month’s vacation or to Spain for a month’s vacation or anything I was going to do that would take my child out of school for the more than the designated days, my child would be disenrolled and not marked absent,” he said at the meeting.
According to Feder, if a family does take a child out of school, chronic absenteeism will kick in after 18 days regardless of reason.
The district prior to the Board of Education (BOE) vote did not have removal as part of the attendance policy.
During the discussion, Kuehner had recommended the number of 10 days before a child is withdrawn. This was also the recommendation from the school district administration.
Mehta asked Feder if absenteeism was problematic in the district.
“This is not an argument of problem. It is a reality of the way we record and [the way we are] told by the state to record information,” Feder said. “So, I am not comfortable in saying it is not a problem as much as it is. We record students are absent [for] good or bad reasons.”
He said the district does not “want to keep having numbers go up when the child is not here for an extended period of time.”
“Chronic absenteeism is generally associated with a negative outcome for a child. We don’t want the district to be dinged with a number that is really not representative of why that law even exists,” Feder said. “The more we can limit absenteeism the better for the district ultimately.”
Feder said that generally a 10-day absence would not result in a child losing placement or classes when they re-enroll.