MCPS attendance goes online with absence notes

By Olivia Parven Staff Writer


The MCPS central office implemented a new “quick link” to every school’s website Aug. 29 that allows parents to electronically submit their children’s absence notes.


The parent must enter online all of the information usually required on a paper absence form, with the addition of the parent’s e-mail address instead of a signature. Although a parent can submit an online form, if a student arrives to school late or leaves early, the student is required to sign in and out of school.


“It’s a lot easier for families,” Principal Joan Benz said. “Everyone was trying to have a system more supportive for students attending class.”


Attendance secretary Harriet Feldman, however, doesn’t think that the process benefits the students themselves because students still have to sign in and out.


According to junior Ryan O’Donnell, the system is more beneficial to parents than students, because it’s just a simpler way for the parents to write an absence note.


According to Feldman, in some ways this new system will reduce lines in the attendance office, but because students who are not missing a full day of school still have to sign in and out of school, lines will not be much shorter.


This new system was just put into effect this school year and is still in its test-run stage. Although the amount of paper notes may have decreased, Feldman still has to handle all of the electronic notes as if they were paper notes by printing them out and filing them.


One concern with the new procedure is that students could also potentially fill out absence notes for themselves online by entering fake e-mail addresses for their parents.


“I trust CHS students to do what’s correct,” Benz said. “Kids could cheat, but we would hope they have good ethics and wouldn’t do that.”


According to Feldman, the parents are supposed to access the CHS website and write the absence notes for their children. Even though there is no specific way to determine who submitted the notes, there are ways to make an assumption by looking through the files and checking to see if a student is constantly missing school, or if the e-mail submitted on the absent notes and the e-mail that is on file in the attendance office don’t match up. The attendance office carefully checks every absence note, and particularly the e-mail addresses on the absence forms with the e-mail addresses that they have on file.


According to Feldman, this is a very time-consuming process. It is more time consuming depending on which day of the week it is, Friday being the day Feldman receives the most absence notes.


One student, who asked that his name not be used, created a fake e-mail to submit an electronic absent note and has already used it twice. He said he would use it again, and has yet to get in trouble for it.


“I knew the school may have my mom’s e-mail on file, but I knew they wouldn’t refer to it,” the student said.


According to Benz, entering false information would be considered falsification of documentation and a student’s parent would be notified. However, Benz is not worried because so far there have not been any reports of students misusing the system.


“It’s in a draft stage right now and it’s constantly being evaluated to help improve attendance.” Benz said.