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Can a Child Have Too Many Excused Absences?

by Jonita Davis

It is standard practice today to get a doctor's note when your son misses school for a medical appointment or your daughter stays home with the flu. Doing so is the way to get the absence accepted as excused. Parents may think that little note is a hassle when dealing with circumstances that take a child away from school, but administrators count on them. It is the student who influenced most by the loss of time from school, and excused or unexcused, absences mean a break in your child's learning for the school year. This and other factors are used to determine if there is such a thing as too many excused absences.

Excused vs. Unexcused

Excused absences are those that occur because of medical, academic or personal reasons such as religious holidays, civic functions, family tragedy or similar events. These absences are documented with a written excuse and, depending on the circumstances, some other evidence (an obituary from a family funeral, for example) that proves where the student was and what he was doing. Without the excuse note or evidence for the absence, it is considered unexcused. American schools document but don't penalize an excessive number of excused absences.

Chronic Absence

An excessive number of excused absences is known as chronic excused absences and represents more than 10 percent of the school year spent away from school. When students attend less than 90 percent of the school days in school, they have missed too much school to have the knowledge needed to receive credit for a class, according to the Texas Association of School Boards. The reason is that school is a place of continuous learning. Students who receive extended or frequent breaks in their learning do not get enough academic information needed to master or even understand a subject or course. The student must make up the work in some way. However, many school districts are finding their chronic absences on the rise, according to NBC News.

Legislation in Progress

Several states are trying to determine ways to curb or monitor chronic excused absences. California and Indiana are two states undergoing the process. Six states already track the information. None of the 50 states legislate penalties for chronic absences yet. However, the rise in chronic absences may change that in the future, according to NBC News.

Penalties

For now, it is possible for a child to have too many excused absences and undermine his education, but there isn't a penalty for it. Too many unexcused absences result in a visit from a truant or equivalent officer of the school, lowered grades, detention, suspension and even court hearings for parents.

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