Regular school attendance is essential. Absences from class may result in serious disruption of a student’s education. The student and parent should avoid unnecessary absences. Two important state laws—one dealing with compulsory attendance and the other with how attendance affects the award of a student’s final grade or course credit—are discussed below.
State law requires that a student who is at least six years of age, or who is younger than six years of age and has previously been enrolled in first grade, and who has not yet reached their 19th birthday, shall attend school, as well as any applicable accelerated instruction program, extended-year program, or tutorial session, unless the student is otherwise excused from attendance or legally exempt. State law requires a student in kindergarten–grade 2 to attend any assigned accelerated reading instruction program. Parents will be notified in writing if their child is assigned to an accelerated reading instruction program based on a diagnostic reading instrument. A student will be required to attend any assigned accelerated instruction program before or after school or during the summer if the student does not meet the passing standards on the state assessment for his or her grade level and/or applicable subject area.
Age 19 and Older
A student who voluntarily attends or enrolls after his or her 19th birthday is required to attend each school day until the end of the school year. If the student incurs more than five unexcused absences in a semester, the district may revoke the student’s enrollment. The student’s presence on school property thereafter would be unauthorized and may be considered trespassing. [See policy FEA for more information.]
Exemptions to Compulsory Attendance
All Grade Levels
State law allows exemptions to the compulsory attendance requirements for the following activities and events, as long as the student makes up all work:
• Religious holy days; • Required court appearances;
• Activities related to obtaining U.S. citizenship;
• Documented health-care appointments for the student or a child of the student, including absences related to autism services, if the student returns to school on the same day of the appointment and brings a note from the health-care provider;
• For students in the conservatorship of the state,
• An activity required under a court-ordered service plan; or
• Any other court-ordered activity, provided it is not practicable to schedule the student’s participation in the activity outside of school hours. For children of military families, absences of up to five days will be excused for a student to visit a parent, stepparent, or legal guardian going to, on leave from, or returning from certain deployments.
Secondary Grade Levels
The district will allow junior and senior students to be absent for up to two days per year to visit a college or university, provided this has been;
• Authorized by the board under policy FEA(LOCAL) and the student receives approval from the campus principal,
• Follows campus procedures to verify the visit, and
• Makes up any work missed.
The district will allow a student 17 years old or older to be absent for up to four days during the period the student is enrolled in high school to pursue enlistment in the U.S. armed services or Texas National Guard, provided the student verifies these activities to the district.
The district will allow a student to be absent for up to two days per school year to serve as:
• An early voting clerk, provided the district’s board has authorized this in policy FEA(LOCAL), the student notifies his or her teachers, and the student receives approval from the principal prior to the absences; or
• An election clerk, if the student makes up any work missed. The district will allow a student in grades 6–12 to be absent for the purpose of sounding “Taps” at a military honors funeral for a deceased veteran.
Failure to Comply with Compulsory Attendance
All Grade Levels
School employees must investigate and report violations of the compulsory attendance law.
A student absent without permission from school, any class, any required special program, or any required tutorial will be considered in violation of the compulsory attendance law and subject to disciplinary action. Handbook
Students with Disabilities
If a student with a disability is experiencing attendance issues, the student’s ARD or Section 504 committee will determine whether the attendance issues warrant an evaluation, a reevaluation, and/or modifications to the student's individualized education program or Section 504 plan, as appropriate.
When a student ages 6–18 incurs three or more unexcused absences within a four-week period, the law requires the school to send notice to the parent.
The notice will:
• Remind the parent of his or her duty to monitor the student’s attendance and require the student to attend school;
• Request a conference between school administrators and the parent; and
• Inform the parent that the district will initiate truancy prevention measures, including a behavior improvement plan, school-based community service, referrals to counseling or other social services, or other appropriate measures.
The truancy prevention facilitator for the district can be contacted at the Community Outreach Center at 432-456-8569. For any questions about student absences, parents should contact the facilitator or any other campus administrator.
A court of law may impose penalties against the parent if a school-aged student is deliberately not attending school. The district may file a complaint against the parent if the student incurs ten or more unexcused absences within a six-month period in the same school year.
If a student age 12–18 incurs ten or more unexcused absences within a six-month period in the same school year, the district, in most circumstances, will refer the student to truancy court. [See policies FEA(LEGAL) and FED(LEGAL) for more information.]
Age 19 and Older
After a student age 19 or older incurs a third unexcused absence, the district is required by law to send the student a letter explaining that the district may revoke the student’s enrollment for the remainder of the school year if the student has more than five unexcused absences in a semester. As an alternative to revoking a student’s enrollment, the district may implement a behavior improvement plan.
Attendance for Credit or Final Grade (All Grade Levels)
To receive credit or a final grade in a class, a student must attend the class at least 90 percent of the days it is offered. A student who attends fewer than 90 percent of the days the class is offered will be referred to the attendance review committee. The committee will determine whether there are extenuating circumstances for the absences and how the student can regain credit or a final grade. [See policy FEC for more information.]
All absences, excused or unexcused, may be held against a student’s attendance requirement. To determine whether there were extenuating circumstances for any absences, the attendance committee will use the following guidelines:
• If makeup work is completed, absences listed under Exemptions to Compulsory Attendance will be considered extenuating circumstances.
• A transfer or migrant student incurs absences only after he or she has enrolled in the district.
• The committee will consider the acceptability and authenticity of documented reasons for the student’s absences
• The committee will consider whether the student or student’s parent had any control over the absences.
• The committee will consider the extent to which the student has completed all assignments, mastered the essential knowledge and skills, and maintained passing grades in the course or subject.
• The student or parent will be given an opportunity to present any information to the committee about the absences and discuss ways to earn or regain credit or a final grade. The student or parent may appeal the committee’s decision to the board by following policy FNG(LOCAL).
Official Attendance-Taking Time (All Grade Levels)
The district will take official attendance every day at 9:30 a.m. A student absent for any portion of the day, should follow the procedures below to provide documentation of the absence.
Documentation after an Absence (All Grade Levels)
A parent must provide an explanation for any absence upon the student’s arrival or return to school. The student must submit a note signed by the parent. The campus may accept a phone call from the parent but reserves the right to require a written note.
A note signed by the student will not be accepted unless the student is age 18 or older or is an emancipated minor under state law.
The campus will document in its attendance records whether the absence is excused or unexcused.
Note: The district is not required to excuse any absence, even if the parent provides a note explaining the absence, unless the absence is an exemption under compulsory attendance laws.
Doctor’s Note after an Absence for Illness (All Grade Levels)
Within five (5) days of returning to school, a student absent for more than four (4) consecutive days because of a personal illness must bring a statement from a doctor or health clinic verifying the illness or condition that caused the absence. Otherwise, the absence may be considered unexcused and in violation of compulsory attendance laws.
Should the student develop a questionable pattern of absences, the principal or attendance committee may require a statement from a doctor or health clinic verifying the illness or condition that caused the absence to determine whether an absence will be excused or unexcused. [See policy FEC(LOCAL) for more information.]