Attendance Policy at BHS

Parent Q&A

  • Attendance policy at Berkeley High

    (12 replies)

    I have a 9th grader at Berkeley High.  She is new to Berkeley Unified.  I notice there is an attendance policy at BHS, saying that excused absences only include medical leave, death in the family.  College visits are only for seniors and 2nd semester juniors.  "Family trips are not excused".  My daughter is very busy with outside musical activities.  It's not like she's ditching school doing nothing, but she does have activities that might result in missing some class time here and there, maybe sometimes days at a time.   In fact, she is extremely productive, and it's the daily grind of school that's holding her back, if anything.  Now we have to deal with the BHS attendance policy.  To be honest, I've never read my childrens' schools attendance policy, because she had perfect attendance. One year at our middle school, we went on vacation during school time, told the front office, they said ok, and all was good.  At their elementary school (which was public), kids were always out of school to go to Disneyland or ski.  That doesn't sound very educational to me.

     So - my question is, if the absence is not excused, then what?  Does this prevent her from graduating?  Does this make her an officially "truant" student?  Or, does it just mean that has some unexcused absences for the year, that may result in no prom or homecoming (which she could care less about)?  I would love to hear others' experience at Berkeley High.  Thank you!


    Hi Jenny,

    I've had two kids go through BHS, one an athlete who often misses school to play for her travel team.  Like your daughter, mine is a good student, lets her teachers know when she'll be absent for a sporting event (BHS or otherwise) and makes sure to catch up with whatever material she missed.  Nonetheless, as you've discovered, these absences are not excused when they're not for a BHS team.  My understanding is that your choices are to accept this, with resulting consequences to your child's grades and eligibility for activities, or to lie.  Lying means calling the attendance office and saying your child was sick.  I hate what this teaches our kids.  At least the Berkeley Public Schools Fund now has a way to easily donate the $30/day BUSD loses each time a child is absent.

    BHS has become notorious with its attendance policy. The teacher can reduce the grade depending on the number of absences. My son had an A+ in one of his classes during his senior year, but bec of missing classes, the teacher reduced it to a C-! I went to talk to the teacher and told her it might result in his college rescinding his admission. The teacher could not care less! Told me my son had to learn!! The attendance office and the vice principle had a similar reaction. I was shocked at the level of caring they had for college admission! 

     If I remember correctly, here is what you can do: you can call in the same day or within 3 days and excuse the absence as sick leave. Or if you expect there to be too many absences, then you could enroll your child in independent study which allows her to attend classes as she wishes.

    Hi Jenny, I think you're over-worrying. When your daughter misses class, the unexcused absences are counted up. If she should happen to go over the allowed absence amount, you and she will be called into a group meeting with other i-hate-to-use-the-word-truants (but that's the label the kids are given), the busd or BHS attendance officer, and even a police officer. If that doesn't scare the kids/parents into doing better, an individual counseling session follows. If THAT doesn't do it, then yes, graduation is in jeopardy. As is prom attendance, and possibly other things. So strictly speaking, if your daughter did miss that much school, life could suck. 

    However if her grades are stellar all along, it's super unlikely either the individual teachers or the truancy officer will hold her up as one of the kids they need to spend resources dealing with. They're trying to prevent at-risk kids from not making it, not to prevent a high achiever from reaching her goals (and reflecting well on bhs).  She'll be talking with her teachers (one assumes!) about what she's up to, and no-one will be pushing to see her "punished". 

    Ive said a couple of contradictory things, but in essence, the answer to your question is "it can be worked out". Best of luck.