Just like any school, PALCS has school policies for parents and students to follow. Families should be familiar with these policies and expectations when choosing PALCS. Families choosing PALCS will learn about these policies upon enrollment at orientation, but you can start learning now by reading select portions of the 2016-2017 PALCS school handbook below. If you need to review any terms in the handbook, you may view the PALCS Dictionary »



Your student needs to log into our school website every school day and meet assignment due dates. Remember, you can log onto our school website from any computer with an Internet connection. This page explores attendance requirements.

View the 2016-2017 School Calendar

View the 2017-2018 School Calendar

Attendance Policy

Download the Attendance Policy (.pdf)

Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), “The school can be effective in educating a child only if the child is in school.”

State law requires Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School (PALCS) to be open 180 days a year and in operation for 990 hours. In compliance with this law, PALCS has established and published a 180-day academic calendar.

student

The attendance requirement is met by logging in to PALCSchool each school day listed in the academic calendar and remaining current with assignments. As a virtual school, student attendance is verified by electronically logging in to PALCSchool. If a student fails to log in to PALCSchool, he or she is absent.

Attendance and participation in onsite state assessments are also mandatory. Each missed day of scheduled state assessments will be documented as one unlawful absence.

Occasionally, students are unable to log in and complete their schoolwork on a given day; this is considered an absence. Acceptable reasons for a student absence include illness or injury, medical appointments, family emergencies, observance of religious holidays, educational opportunities or family trips (see Student Educational Leave of Absence below).

In the case of a system-wide failure of PALCS that prohibits students from logging in to PALCSchool and completing their work, no absence will be charged to the student. In the event of such a school-wide outage that prohibits children from attending and completing their work, an additional school day will be added to the school calendar and families will be notified of the change.

In the case of a computer or technical issue with the student, parents are asked to immediately contact the Help Desk by:

  1. Submitting a support ticket from the PALCSchool login page (underneath the fields for username and password, there is a note that reads, “Problems logging in to PALCSchool? Please click here to submit a HelpDesk ticket”); or,
  2. If you are able to log in to PALCSchool, click the “Help” icon on the left-side navigation bar, then click “HelpDesk” in the pop-up window.

If you are unable to submit a request for service ticket because of your technical issues, please call toll-free 1-877-725-2785, then press Option 3 or dial extension 1616 for assistance.

In all cases aside from a system-wide failure, a written excuse, outlining the reason for an absence, must be submitted online through the parent/guardian’s PALCSchool account to the Attendance Office within three days of a student’s absence. If the excuse is not submitted by the end of the third day following the absence, the absence will be unexcused.

To submit an excuse, the parent/guardian should select the “Progress” icon on the left-hand navigation bar in the PALCSchool Lobby, and select “Attendance” in the pop-up box. You will be given a menu from which to choose the reason for your child’s absence.

While the school strongly prefers for parents to submit a timely excuse for each day of absence, it is possible for parents to submit one excuse for multiple consecutive days of absence. However, the Attendance Office must receive an excuse no later than three days after each absence. [Example: a student is absent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. An excuse for the Monday absence is due by Thursday, even though an excuse for the Wednesday absence is not due until the following Monday.]

Additionally, parents of students missing more than three consecutive school days due to illness must provide a note from a physician in addition to the written excuse from the parent. A doctor’s note may be submitted to attendance@palcs.org.

Educational Leave of Absence Policy

A formal application and approval process is required for an Educational Leave of Absence. Applications must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of a planned trip. A maximum of 5 consecutive days of excused absences will be considered for approval by the division principal. A work plan must be completed with the student’s teachers and principal before the educational trip commences. Students are limited to one such request per year.

To request pre-approval for an educational leave of absence, a parent/guardian should select the “Progress” icon on the left-hand navigation bar in the PALCSchool Lobby, select “Attendance” in the pop-up box, then select “Submit Pre-approved Absence Request.”

Cumulative Lawful Absences

Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, a maximum of ten days of cumulative lawful absences verified by the parent/guardian (excluding absences that have been pre-approved by the principal) may be permitted during a school year. All absences beyond ten cumulative days may require an excuse from a physician.

Additionally, upon the tenth cumulative lawful absence and/or unlawful absence (see below), the parent/guardian will be notified in writing by the school regarding the student’s absentee record.

A conference may be requested by school administration when a student has cumulatively missed 15 days or more.

After 20 or more days of cumulative absences, the division principal, guidance department and school administration will undertake an informal review of the student’s record, including days of absence and other factors, and a recommendation will be made regarding possible retention in the current grade for the next school year. Such a recommendation may include a failing grade and/or no course credit for impacted courses. If the principal and Director of Academics support the recommendation, the parent/guardian shall be notified in writing of the consequence. The decision of school administration is final.

Unexcused and Unlawful Absences

Absences that are not recognized as acceptable under the Pennsylvania School Code, or are lacking documentation, are considered unexcused and unlawful. This includes, but is not limited to, absences where a written excuse is not submitted within three days of the student’s absence.

Upon the third unexcused and unlawful absence, a letter will be sent from the Director of Academics (or designee) by certified mail to the parent/guardian. This letter is known as a First Offense Notice, per the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

This First Offense Notice will advise the parent(s) that the absences have been reported to the student’s school district of residence, as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

In addition to the above actions, upon the third unexcused and unlawful absence, PALCS shall request a conference to discuss the cause of the child’s truancy and develop a written School Attendance Improvement Plan (SAIP) to resolve truant behavior. Issues to be reviewed at the school/family conference include the appropriateness of the child’s educational environment, current academic difficulties, physical or behavioral health issues, and family/environment concerns. At the end of the conference, all parties will sign a comprehensive SAIP that is agreed to by the school representative, the child, and the parents and/or family.

Each subsequent unexcused and unlawful absence will be reported to the school district of residence.

Students who have not complied with compulsory attendance requirements (including the SAIP) and are consistently truant may be withdrawn from PALCS and referred back to their school district of residence.

Special note about students who transfer to PALCS during the school year with an excessive number of absences: Students who enroll in PALCS during the school year who bring with them an excessive number of absences, as determined by PALCS administration, will be automatically enrolled in a School Attendance Improvement Plan (SAIP). The SAIP will clearly state the number of absences permitted, the likelihood of grade level retention, and whether or not the student will be required to attend additional programs such as a Summer Bridge Program (summer school).

Academic Truancy

The Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School designates a classification of Academic Truancy for students who log in for attendance purposes but are not working or completing work in their courses. This designation is separate from the unexcused and unlawful absences outlined above.

All students are required to not only log in to school each day but also to remain current with school work and assignments.

“Current” is defined by actively participating and submitting work assignments on time. When students are not actively participating in their online classes and/or are not submitting assignments by the due date or progress check, they are considered academically truant.

Additionally, some students are required to participate in “live” virtual lessons/sessions. Students who do not attend these required sessions may accrue academic penalties.

Students who become academically truant may be placed in a Bridge to Student Success Program (BtSS), at the discretion of the school’s division principal, guidance and academic team. The BtSS program offers comprehensive supports for students and families who are struggling in the cyber environment. If a student is enrolled in the BtSS program due to academic truancy, the BtSS attendance and work completion policies will apply.

Students who violate the BtSS policies will be withdrawn from PALCS and referred back to their district of residence.


So that your student can excel at PA Leadership, you need to be involved in his or her daily school activities. Your involvement will vary based on the age and needs of your child. This page explores those requirements.

Role of the Parent/Guardian

The Parent/Guardian plays an integral role in student success. Each student is required to have a Parent/Guardian serve as a home facilitator to ensure that the student is (virtually) attending school regularly and completing assignments on time. The Parent/Guardian is an essential partner with the teacher, the student, and the school. Parent/Guardian requirements for home facilitation will vary with age and motivation of the student. Students in primary grades (K-8), students with lower motivation levels, and students with special needs generally require more direct involvement in the learning process. The PALCS model of education requires a commitment that goes beyond a traditional public school.

Primary Responsibilities of the Parent/Guardian

childrenProvide a safe and secure environment.

  • This requires that the student has adequate adult supervision during the entire school day in order for the student to complete his or her work in a safe and healthy environment.

Maintain an active Internet account so that the students can complete online assignments.

  • Maintain timely communication with teachers, principals, counselors, and school officials.
  • Respond promptly to all school communication (within 24 hours).
  • Please note that all electronic communication from parents should be sent through the Parent/Guardian’s communication system (email, etc.).

Maintain confidentiality of Parent/Guardian username and password access.

  • Ensure that the student completes the Onboarding Module prior to accessing courses.
  • Ensure that the student is attending school as per our attendance policy.
  • Parents may not log into the student’s account for attendance purposes without the student present.

Ensure that the student is an active participant in school and is completing work in all courses, as assigned.

  • Monitor student progress by checking online to see that assignments have been completed and submitted.
  • Expect students to spend 4-6 hours a day engaged in school work and virtual lessons.

Ensure that student progress is satisfactory by checking grades on a regular basis, communicating with teachers, and attending parent-teacher conferences.

  • Comply with state and local testing requirements.
  • Ensure student participation in all online proctored local assessments.
  • Ensure student participation in all required in-person state assessments.
  • Provide transportation for students to state-mandated testing locations, allotting time for test completion.

Complete and return annual health forms, including forms to be completed by the child’s healthcare provider, according to the child’s grade as required by School Health Services and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Technological Knowledge Required of a Parent/Guardian

The Parent/Guardian serving as a home facilitator must have an understanding of technology to provide appropriate supervision of the student while the student is in attendance at PALCS. If the Parent/Guardian serving as a home facilitator does not have a sufficient understanding of computer technology, PALCS will provide training until the Parent/Guardian serving is able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge. Basic knowledge includes, but is not limited to: e-mail, basic use of Microsoft Office, Google applications, PALCSchool navigation, and the Internet.


PALCS provides laptops and associated technological equipment, as well as physical and online textbooks and other materials to every student. You are responsible for the careful treatment and eventual return of these materials. This page explores those requirements.

PALCS Provided Technology and Instructional Materials

laptopbackpackPALCS provides a computer for each student to enable access to the many tools needed for attending PALCS, including access to PALCS internet-based educational portal, online libraries, curriculum, and other educational tools and materials. Upon enrollment students are provided with a technology hardware kit. A standard hardware kit is comprised of laptop computer, printer/copier, a microphone/headset, and an Ethernet cable. PALCS also provides some course related books and materials contingent on a student’s course roster.

Whether shipped or given to students at Orientation, all packaging included with PALCS provided technology should be retained by the student as it also is PALCS property and approved packaging for computer returns of any kind. In the event of returns books may be shipped in previously provided PALCS packaging, or any well packed box that can protect the books well.

PALCS reserves the right to substitute, replace, or request the return of its computer equipment in the event of damage, improper use, or the withdrawal of a student from PALCS. Improper use could include anything not related to PALCS education, unapproved software, or other illegal or unapproved use.

Included in the instructional materials will be consumable supplies that PALCS expects the student to use in their entirety, not warranting any returns. Such materials may include course specific art & science supplies, writable workbooks, worksheets and ink for printers. PALCS will provide every student with one replaceable black ink cartridge per school year, upon request. PALCS will not provide “school supplies” used in the normal course of the student’s education.

Technical Support and Internet Connection and Safety

booktowerPALCS will provide support services to students using PALCS computer equipment. This support will be provided by the IT Help Desk (610-701-3333 ext. 1616). PALCS cannot support wireless as every home wireless router has a unique, non-standard configuration. PALCS recommends a wired connection for some coursework and it is often necessary for successful technical support calls. This is why an ethernet cable is provided as part of the PALCS computer set-up.

PALCS computers are given to students with the software and settings needed for coursework. No additional software may be added to the computer unless it is approved by the school and administered by the IT Help Desk.

Internet Safety – It should be clear that students may find ways to access materials available through the Internet that are inappropriate, illegal, defamatory, inaccurate, or offensive. While the school will take measures to make this access more difficult, the responsibility for enforcing standards of behavior on the Internet lies with Responsible Party (parent or legal guardian). Please feel free to contact the school with questions concerning safe Internet usage.

Lost, Stolen, Damaged Instructional Property

PALCS will repair and/or address any hardware or software issues that arise in the normal educational use of its computer equipment. In such an event PALCS will facilitate the return, repair and replacement of student computer equipment. In all such instances it is the responsibility of the Parent/Guardian to provide back-up technology that their student can use to continue their school work.

Should hardware or software issues, damage or loss of computer equipment or instructional materials be the result of improper, unacceptable, negligent or non-educational related activity, the Parent/Guardian will be responsible for the cost of replacement and/or repair. For this reason, we recommend and encourage PALCS families to maintain homeowners or other insurance that can be leveraged in such an event. PALCS reserves the right to retain internet reimbursement due families who have damaged or lost instructional materials to help cover replacement or repair costs.

For more detail on the specifics regarding PALCS Instructional Property, please see the Device Property Agreement.


While most schoolwork is completed online from home, PALCS students must occasionally participate in on-site standardized testing, as is required by public school students in Pennsylvania. Parents are responsible for bringing their children to testing sites set up by PALCS. This page explores those requirements.

pencilsStandardized tests are administered periodically to students to gauge progress and to identify gaps in learning that require additional supports.

Local assessments (course-level quarterly exams, quizzes, and unit tests) are frequently conducted online.

Other standardized tests, such as state-mandated PSSAs or Keystone Exams, require travel to regional testing sites. A form of photo identification may be needed for students who are taking state-mandated onsite (in-person) assessments.

Attendance and participation in onsite (in-person) state assessments is mandatory.

  • Each missed day of scheduled state assessments will be documented as one unlawful absence.

Parent/Guardian responsibilities regarding state and local testing requirements are to:

  • Ensure student participation in all online proctored local assessments.
  • Ensure student participation in all required onsite (in-person) state assessments.
  • Provide transportation for students to state-mandated testing locations, allotting time for test completion.


Students attending PA Leadership Charter School must be residents of Pennsylvania. However, homeless youth in Pennsylvania are also eligible for public education. This page provides information for homeless students.

The McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act is a federal law that ensures immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth. McKinney-Vento provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting district programs that serve homeless students. PA Leadership Charter School works with families and agencies to provide a coordinated placement for the children while working with families to help them stabilize their situations.

McKinney-Vento Act

ECYEHChildren and youth are eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act if they have been displaced from their homes and are living in a place that is not fixed, regular, or adequate, such as:

  • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason
  • In a place not designated as regular sleeping accommodation, such as a vehicle, park, hotel, or campground
  • In a homeless or domestic violence shelter or transitional housing placement
  • Outside of his/her home as an unaccompanied youth
  • Awaiting foster care
  • In any of the situations listed above as the child of a migrant family

Download a copy of the McKinney-Vento Act from the Berks County Intermediate Unit

Your Rights

Children and youth experiencing homelessness have the right to:

  • Continue their education in their current school, and receive transportation OR enroll immediately in the school where they are temporarily housed, even if lacking the paperwork normally required
  • Participate in all applicable school programs, including supplemental services
  • Receive free lunch
  • Receive assistance with school-related expenses.

Printable version of this information from the Berks County Intermediate Unit

Below are several web sites for additional information:

PALCS Homeless Liaison: Shavaun McGinty, Supervisor of Guidance, 610-701-3333 ext. 1172