(In the original published version, we regrettably failed to include the portion of the text that defines an excused absence and the necessary documentation to provide the school administration. We sincerely apologize and have now included it below)
Recently, a post on social media caused a bit of a stir in regards to the policy regarding absences in Amarillo ISD. It didn't long before other parents began to join in, showing their own displeasure for the policy.
So, why are Amarillo parents unhappy with the AISD absence policy?
What Counts As An Absence And What Doesn't
The original post on social media pointed out that a student was picked up with one class left to go for the day. The parent states that their student was marked absent for the whole day.
So, just to make sure we're on the same page, that's marked absent for the whole day when they only missed the last class of the day according to the post.
The problem with this, according to the parent, is that students are only allowed ten absences before parents are fined.
Checking the attendance policy for AISD online, I finally found what was being referenced in regards to unexcused absences:
If a student fails to attend school without excuse on ten or more days or parts of days within a six-month period in the same school year, a district shall within ten school days of the student's tenth absence refer the student to a truancy court for truant conduct under Family Code 65.003(a). [See FED] Education Code 25.0951
Does that mean the student was at class for the overwhelming majority of the day, and then given an unexcused absence for the whole day after missing the one class?
However, this only applies to unexcused absences and it should be noted that the above is actually state law and beyond that, is district policy.
A district shall excuse a student from attending school for a temporary absence resulting from an appointment with a health-care professional for the student or the student's child if the student commences classes or returns to school on the same day of the appointment. The appointment must be supported by a document such as a note from the health-care professional. Education Code 25.087(b)(2), (b-3); 19 TAC 129.21(j)(3) [See FEB]
So, as per the above, one would only need to bring in proof of a doctor's appointment the next day for the absence to be marked as excused. Additionally, appointments for occupational and speech therapy services are also considered excused absences as long as a supporting document is provided to the school administration.
Heavy Handed? In The Child's Best Interest?
On the post about the issue, parents overwhelmingly sided with the parent. I only saw one person say, "Rules are rules." I can see both sides, almost.
There are rules, and you want to believe that they simply exist to protect the best interest of the child. However, if a child is present all day except for one class, being given an absence for the whole day seems harsh.
Several parents commented on how they keep every single note from the doctor, and how they have had to call and fix their student's attendance record. It seems way too complicated of an issue for something as simple as "were they here or not."
Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with too much of this since my children are all still in elementary school. It seems that's a little bit easier to navigate. However, we're getting closer to middle school, junior high, high school. That seems to be where most of the issues arise.
Have you had to deal with this? What are your thoughts?