Questions About Attendance

  • Headshot of Attendance Clerk Ms. Olson wearing a black and white striped shirt.

    Melissa Olsen

    Attendance Secretary

    Attendance Hotline Email:
    Attendance Hotline: (406)728-0997
    Phone: (406)728-2400, ext. 7052
    Compulsory Attendance

    Parents are responsible for seeing that their children of age seven (7) or older prior to the first day of school, attend school until the later of the following dates:

    1. The child’s sixteenth (16th) birthday;
    2. The date of completion of the work of the eighth (8th) grade.

    Parents shall enroll the student unless the student is: 

    1. Provided with supervised correspondence or home study;
    2. Excused because of a determination by a district judge that attendance is not I the best interests of the child;
    3. Enrolled in a non-public or home school;
    4. Enrolled in a school of another district or state under the tuition provisions of this title;
    5. Excused by the Board upon a determination that such attendance by a child who has attained the age of sixteen (16) is not in the best interests of the child and the school.

    Missoula County Public Schools will continue tuition-free attendance of resident students not reaching 19 years of age by September 10.  Students in MCPS are expected to attend and be enrolled as full time students.  However, with the approval of the building principal and Superintendent or designee, students may be enrolled less than full-time if the student is enrolled for at least one clock hour per day (including passing periods).  This applies to students currently enrolled in MCPS’ schools as well as home school students and private school students. This provision applies to students in grades K-12.   Part-time students must participate in the state wide student assessment which any student in the grades designated for assessment is required to take.

    Any student who wishes to receive a diploma from a Missoula County Public School high school, must be enrolled as a full-time student during his/her senior year and meet the same credit requirements as other students in MCPS’ schools.

    A full-time senior student is defined as a student enrolled in a minimum of four (4) classes.  Exceptions to this allow for university enrolled high school students, District-directed school-to-work and service learning experiences, as approved by the principal and Superintendent.  Any student who has been expelled from another school district will not be allowed to attend or enroll in MCPS during the term of expulsion from the expelling school district.  MCPS Policy 3120

    Attendance Procedures

    Education is a cooperative venture to which the student, the teacher and the parent/guardian contribute.  Prompt, regular attendance in school is an important factor in determining a student's academic success, including success in meeting state and local requirements for graduation.  Students who attend school consistently develop better socially, establish better communication with their teachers, acquire important lifetime habits such as dependability, self-sufficiency, and responsibility and have greater success academically. Missoula County Public Schools recognizes that school attendance is the responsibility of the student and parent/guardian, supported by the teachers and administration. The following procedures are designed to encourage regular and punctual school attendance so that learning can take place. It is intended to be positive and not punitive, and all measures taken will be in the students’ best interest. These practices and procedures will assist families and school personnel in making attendance decisions.

    1. Student's Responsibility: It is the student's responsibility to:
      • Attend all assigned classes and other instructional activities on time every day that school is in session;
      • Be aware of and follow the correct procedures when absent from an assigned class or other instructional activity;
      • Request any missed assignments due to an absence; and
      • Complete assigned work in a timely manner.
    2. Parent or Guardian's Responsibility: It is the responsibility of the student's parent/guardian to:
      • Ensure the student is attending school;
      • Inform the school in the event of a student absence;
      • Be aware of and follow the correct procedures for reporting student absence; and
      • Work cooperatively with the school and the student to resolve any attendance issues that may arise.

    Students are required to attend all assigned classes and/or other instructional activities every day school is in session, unless the student has a valid excuse for absence, in accordance with Section 20-5-103, MCA. 

    1. Excused Absences: These include family authorized absences and school authorized absences. The following reasons shall be sufficient to constitute excused absences:
      • Family authorized excused absences:
        • Personal illness
        • Family emergency or death in the family
        • Medical or dental treatment
        • Other activities as approved by the schoo
    2. School authorized excused absences
      • Approved field trips
      • Interscholastic competitions and events
      • Other activities as approved by the school
    3. Unexcused Absences: - These are absences which are not authorized by the parent/guardian or the school. The following absences are examples of absences which will not be excused:
      • Leaving school premises without authorization from the nurse, the attendance office or the principals’ offices;
      • Failing to attend class (while remaining on the premises) without advanced permission;
      • Family trips/vacations for which no prior arrangement have been made with the school;
      • Other absences not authorized by the school or parent/guardian.
    4. Reporting Student Absences

    When a student must be absent from school, the parent/guardian is requested to notify the school’s attendance office, whenever possible, in advance of the absence.  If the school attendance office does not receive advance notice, the school will make a reasonable effort to contact a parent/guardian to verify the student absence.  If the school is unable to contact a student’s parent/guardian after a reasonable effort has been made, the absence will be recorded as unexcused.  Single or multiple absences that are not verified by a parent/guardian, or which have been recorded as unexcused, may be handled as part of the disciplinary process.

    Whenever possible, students are to request make-up work in advance of the absence and to complete work according to the timelines established by the individual teacher.

    Absences necessitated by student participation in field trips or extra-curricular activities must be excused in advance.  The participating student is responsible to secure each teacher’s signature on a pre-arranged absence slip and request homework assignments prior to the date of the absence.

    Procedure For Student Prearranged Absences

    All absences other than illness and family emergencies should be planned for in advance.  Prearranged Absence forms are available in the Attendance Office.

    Students participating in school-related activities must fill out the Activities Prearranged Absence forms.  This form is to be picked up from the coach or sponsor of the activity and returned complete to them at the time the coach sets.  The list of students attending the activity should be handed in to the coach/sponsor by 3:00 p.m. the day preceding the trip. Also, notify the attendance office of any changes occurring the day of the event before leaving.

    Attendance Intervention

    Each school will develop an attendance intervention committee.  At the beginning of each school year, the attendance intervention committee will confer regarding students who have had attendance issues in the past.  This will provide an opportunity for proactive intervention by the school and the family of the student.  

    Students accruing six (6) or more absences in a semester will be considered at-risk for developing chronic absenteeism.  A sixth absence in a semester will result in an attendance letter to the parent and a referral to the attendance intervention committee for review.  Unexcused absences may result in a referral to the attendance intervention team prior to the sixth absence.  The attendance intervention committee may, at any time, intervene on behalf of student considered to be at-risk as a result of attendance issues.  

    A student accruing ten (10) or more absences in a semester will be considered chronically absent.  The school principal or designee will contact the student’s parent/guardian to confer regarding attendance interventions.  High school students accruing excessive absences may have class credit placed on hold until an appropriate attendance intervention plan has been developed and implemented.  Chronic absenteeism may result in a referral to Child and Family Services or to the Missoula County Attorney as a child truant from school in accordance with Section 20-5-106, MCA.

    • Repeated instances of tardiness will result in more severe disciplinary action.

    Make-up work schedule:

    • 1 day absence - 2 days make up time
    • 2 days absence - 3 days make up time
    • More than 2 days absence - 1 week make up time

    Make-up work schedule for suspended students:

    Students who have been suspended for behavior, will have an opportunity to complete missed homework; however,  they will have no additional time to complete the work.  It is the responsibility of the suspended student to contact their teacher about missed work and complete it independently as if they were in attendance.  Teachers will have individual discretion to grant additional time.  Tests missed during suspension will be taken on the day the student returns from their suspension.