Regular school attendance is essential for the student to make the most of his or her education. Attending school regularly helps students to benefit from teacher-led and school activities, to build each day’s learning on the previous day, and to grow as an individual.
Absences from may result in serious disruption of a student’s mastery of the instructional materials. Students and parents 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 special interest to students and parents. Each is discussed in the following sections:
Compulsory Attendance Law
The state compulsory attendance law requires that a student between the ages of 6 and 18 must attend school and district-required tutorial sessions unless the student is otherwise legally exempted or excused. A student who voluntarily attends or enrolls after his or her eighteenth birthday is required to attend each school day. However, if a student 18 or older has more than five unexcused absences in a semester, the school district may revoke the student’s enrollment. The student’s presence on school property is then unauthorized and may be considered trespassing.
In order to obtain a high quality education, state law requires that students have a 90% attendance rate (a maximum of 5 unexcused absences per semester under current A/B block scheduling) in order to receive credit in a course and to receive a driver's license.School employees must investigate and report violations of the state compulsory attendance law.
A student absent from school without permission from any class; from required special programs, such as additional special instruction (termed “accelerated instruction” by the state) assigned by the grade placement committee and basic skills for ninth graders; or from required tutorials will be considered in violation of the law and subject to disciplinary action.
A school-aged student deliberately not attending school may also result in assessment of penalties by a court of law against both the student and his or her parents. A complaint against the parent may be filed in the appropriate 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
- absent on three or more days or parts of days within a four-week period.
Parent Notes for Student Absences
When a student is marked with an unexcused absence or tardy, a phone call is made to inform parents/guardians of the student’s failure to attend school. After three unexcused absences, written notification is sent to the student’s home. Failure to meet compulsory attendance requirements may result in a referral to truancy court and consequences such as fines or community service. 'No Credit' Designation: State law requires a minimum of 90% attendance in class for credit to be obtained. Any student accruing more than 5 unexcused absences in any course will lose a course credit.
Appealing a 'No Credit' Designation
A student with more than five unexcused absences in a course must make an appeal for course credit. Students have one chance to appeal per semester and will be given an alternative learning assignment. Additionally, students have 30 days from the end of the semester to appeal unexcused absences for that semester. In general, students will be expected to make up each unexcused absence in order to regain credit for a course. The student or parent may appeal the committee’s decision to the District’s Board of Trustees by filing a written request with the Superintendent in accordance with policy FNG. A transfer or migrant student incurs absences only after his or her enrollment 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.
Student participation in extracurricular activities during the regular school day is limited to a maximum of twelve (12) times per year. The participation is documented as a field trip (FT), board approved activity (BA) or UIL and does not constitute an absence. It is the coach/sponsor's responsibility to ensure the extracurricular participation is documented and submitted to the attendance office at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the absence.
Permits to Leave School
No student may leave school without a permit from the attendance office. If a student knows in advance of his or her need to leave school, s/he must present a note from his or her parent/guardian to the attendance office upon arriving at school. Attendance staff will call the parent/guardian to confirm the permit. The student's parent/guardian will personally sign the student out in the attendance office and sign the student back in if s/he returns the same day.
If a student is more than fifty percent late to class, the students will be counted absent for that class period. When a student returns to school after an absence, she/he will need to bring a note in order to officially document the absence. Excused absences may include illness documented by a parent, doctor, court official, college visits, etc. Absences due to illnesses that extend beyond five (5) consecutive days must be verified by a doctor's note. All notes should include the student’s name and ID number, date(s) of absence, reason(s) for absence, daytime telephone number, and parent/guardian signature or the signature of a health care professional. Absences documented by parental notes will be excused at the discretion of the appropriate school administrator.
Students are tardy to class if they are not in the appropriate room when the tardy bell rings. If a student is tardy, s/he will report to the Personal Responsibility Center (PRC). If the student completes the required work in the PRC, s/he may return to classes at the end of the period. If a student is tardy a second time on a particular day, s/he will be assigned to the PRC for the rest of the day. PRC attendance is considered time out of class but does not constitute an absence.
Students are considered truant if they are off school property or out of class for any reason without the permission of the parent/guardian or school officials. Absences due to truancy will result in denial of course credit. Truant students will also face legal and disciplinary action. A complaint against the student may be filed in truancy 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.
Driver License Attendance Verification
To obtain a driver license, a student between the ages of 16 and 18 must annually 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 registrar’s office.