Regular school attendance is essential for student success. Absences can have a significant impact on student learning. While assignments can be made up for excused absences, it is difficult or impossible to make up all learning experiences that occur during the school day. Two state laws—one dealing with compulsory attendance, the other with attendance for course credit—are of special interest to students and parents. They are discussed below.
State law requires that a student between the ages of six and 18 attend school.
Exemptions to Compulsory Attendance
State law allows exemptions to the compulsory attendance requirements for several types of absences if the student makes up all work. These include the following activities and events:
- Religious holy days;
- Required court appearances
- Activities related to obtaining United States citizenship
- Service as an election clerk
- Documented health-care appointments (if the student attends part of the school day), including absences for recognized services for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders - a note from the health-care provider must be submitted upon the student’s return to campus
Failure to Comply with Compulsory Attendance
School employees must investigate and report violations of the state compulsory attendance law. A student absent without permission from school; from any class; from required special programs, such as additional special instruction, termed “accelerated instruction” by the state; or from required tutorials will be considered in violation of the compulsory attendance law and subject to disciplinary action.
A court of law may also impose penalties against both the student and his or her parents if a school-aged student is deliberately not attending school. A complaint against the parent may be filed in court if the student:
- Is absent from school on ten or more days or parts of days within a six-month period in the same school year, or
- Is absent on three or more days or parts of days within a four-week period
For a student younger than 12 years of age, the student’s parent could be charged with an offense based on the student’s failure to attend school.
If a student age 12 through age 17 violates the compulsory attendance law, both the parent and student could be charged with an offense.
[See policy FEA(LEGAL).]
If a student is absent from school and the absence is considered unexcused, the student will not be able to receive credit for the assignments missed during the unexcused absence. If the parent is aware of the unexcused absence, the student and parent can be charged with truancy but there will be no additional disciplinary consequences. If the parent is unaware of the unexcused absence then the student can receive school disciplinary consequences along with truancy charges.
Attendance for Credit
To receive credit in a class, a student must attend at least 90 percent of the days the class is offered. A student who attends at least 75 percent but fewer than 90 percent of the days the class is offered may receive credit for the class if he or she completes a plan, approved by the principal, that allows the student to fulfill the instructional requirements for the class. If a student is involved in a criminal or juvenile court proceeding, the approval of the judge presiding over the case will also be required before the student receives credit for the class.
If a student attends less than 75 percent of the days a class is offered or has not completed the plan approved by the principal, then the student will be referred to the attendance review committee to determine whether there are extenuating circumstances for the absences and how the student can regain credit, if appropriate. [See policy FEC.]
Official Attendance-Taking Time
The district must submit attendance of its students to Texas Education Agency (TEA) reflecting attendance at a specific time each day. Lamar's official attendance period is 3/4 (A days) and 13/14 (B days). This may change on days with special schedules.
A student absent for any portion of the day, including at the official attendance-taking time, should follow the procedures below.
Documentation after an Absence
When a student is absent from school, the student must bring a note signed by the parent that describes the reason for the absence - on the first day that he/she returns. Notes must be signed by the parent and turned in within three days of returning to school or the absence/s will be unexcused. A phone call from the parent may be accepted, but the district reserves the right to require a written note.
Students may bring no more than four parent notes for illness per semester. After the 4th parent note, a doctor’s note will be required for all absences.
Please note that, unless the absence is for a statutorily allowed reason under compulsory attendance laws, the district is not required to excuse any absence.
Doctor’s Note after an Absence for Illness
Upon return to school, a student absent for more than four consecutive days because of a personal illness must bring a statement from a doctor or health care provider verifying the illness or condition that caused the student’s extended absence from school. Notes must be turned in within three days of returning to school. Otherwise, the student’s absence may be considered unexcused and, if so, would be considered to be 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 student’s absence from school in order to determine whether the absence or absences will be excused or unexcused.
[See policy FEC(LOCAL).]
Discretionary absences should be limited due the potential impact on student learning and success. If your family circumstances require a planned absence, please contact the school at least one week in advance to seek approval from the principal. Planned absences not approved in advance will be unexcused.