Regular school attendance is essential for a student to make the most of his or her education—to benefit from teacherled and school activities, to build each day’s learning on the previous day’s, and to grow as an individual. Absencesfrom class may result in serious disruption of a student’s mastery of the instructional materials; therefore, the studentand parent should make every effort to avoid unnecessary absences.Two state laws, one dealing with compulsory attendance, the other with attendance for course credit, are of specialinterest to students and parents. They are discussed below:
State law requires that a student between the ages of six and 18 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.
A student who voluntarily attends or enrolls after his or her 18th birthday is required to attend each school day. If a student 18 or older has more than five unexcused absences in a semester, however, 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 FEA] Students enrolled in prekindergarten or kindergarten are required to attend school. State law requires attendance in an accelerated reading instruction program when kindergarten, first grade, or second grade students are assigned to such a program. Parents will be notified in writing if their child is assigned to anaccelerated reading instruction program as a result of a diagnostic reading instrument.
Exemptions to Compulsory Attendance
State law allows exemptions to the compulsory attendance requirements for several types of absences. 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; and
• Documented health-care appointments, including absences for recognized services for students diagnosedwith autism spectrum disorders.
In addition, a junior or senior student’s absence of up to two days related to visiting a college or university may be considered an exemption, provided the student receives approval from the campus principal, follows the campus procedures to verify such a visit, and makes up any work missed.
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) assigned by a grade placement committee and basic skills for ninth graders; or from required tutorials will be considered in violation of the compulsory attendance law and subject todisciplinary 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.
If the student is over age 18, the student’s parents shall not be subject to penalties as a result of their child’s violation of state compulsory attendance law. [See FEA(LEGAL)]
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 a 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 policies at FEC] In determining whether there were extenuating circumstances for the absences, the attendance committee will use the following guidelines:
All absences will be considered in determining whether a student has attended the required percentage of days. If makeup work is completed, absences for religious holy days and documented health-care appointments will be considered days of attendance for this purpose. [See policies at FEB.]
A transfer or migrant student begins to accumulate absences only after he or she has enrolled in the district. For a student transferring into the district after school begins, including a migrant student, only those absences after enrollment will be considered.
In reaching a decision about a student’s absences, the committee will attempt to ensure that it is in the best interest of the student.
The committee will consider the acceptability and authenticity of documented reasons for the student’s absences. [Extracurricular, court appearances, religious holidays, and approved college visitation days (2- Seniors only) are accepted by SFHS.]
The committee will consider whether the absences were for reasons over which the student or the student’s parent could exercise any control.
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 to talk about ways to earn or regain credit. The student or parent may appeal the committee’s decision to the board of trustees by filing a written request with the superintendent in accordance with policy FNG(LOCAL). The actual number of days a student must be in attendance in order to receive credit will depend on whether the class is for a full semester or for a full year.
Parent’s Note After An Absence
When a student must be absent from school, the student—upon returning to school—must bring a note, signed by the parent that describes the reason for the absence. A note signed by the student, even with the parent’s permission, will not be accepted unless the student is 18 or older and lives outside the parent’s home. A note signed by the parent may or may not be accepted as an excused absence. Notes must be submitted within 10 school days from the absence.
Doctor’s Note After An Absence for Illness
Upon return to school, a student absent for more than three 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 student’s extended absence from school. [See FEC(LOCAL).]
Driver License Attendance Verification
To obtain a driver license, a student between the ages of 16 and 18 must provide to the Texas Department of Public Safety a form obtained from the school verifying that the student has met the 90 percent attendance requirement for the semester preceding the date of application. The student can obtain this form at the campus office.