These guidelines are written to inform parents and educators in the Wichita Falls Independent School District about state laws concerning compulsory attendance. Please keep in mind that this is not a law book and that all school districts have their own methods of handling problems within the framework of the law.
Please contact your campus principal or attendance personnel for specific or unique questions pertaining to attendance laws.
If I Receive a Letter
Pursuant to Section 25.095 (Texas Education Code), we are required to notify parents/guardians of unexcused absences prior to court. The letter is a means of information to keep parents informed about absences. The letter is generated by a software program if documentation is not received within three days. Sometimes the informational letter may cross in the mail before the student returns to school. Please contact the school to clear up any misinformation about the absence(s)/letter.
Importance of Attendance
Graduating from high school is a major event in a student's life. Some young people are not reaching this goal because of chronic absenteeism and truancy. It is estimated that, nationwide, one out of four ninth graders will not complete the twelfth grade. However, there is a role the parent can play in making sure that your child does not become one of the growing statistics known as a dropout.
What can I do?
Value education and give it high priority in your family! Convey a positive attitude about school and treat going to school as part of the normal course of events, something that is expected of your child. Let your child know that school is the most important thing in his/her life at this time, and that his/her future job opportunities will depend on how well he/she handles his/her present "job" (school). Help your child develop good study and work habits and praise your child when he/she is successful. Get to know your child's friends as they have more influence with him/her at this time in his/her life than you do. Get personally involved in school activities, go to sporting events, attend plays and concerts, join the PTA/PTO, volunteer, read the school paper. Know what's going on!
What is the Compulsory Attendance Law in Texas?
A child 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 his or her 18th birthday, shall attend school.
Upon enrollment in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten, a child shall attend school. [TEC. Sec. 25.085]
Are parents and their child held responsible for their school attendance?
Yes! You and your child are legally responsible for your child's regular attendance, so long as the child falls under the guidelines of the Compulsory Attendance Law. Failure to attend school is a Class C misdemeanor filed in the Justice of the Peace Court and in other courts in Wichita County. It is filed against parents unless the child is 17 years of age. Charges may be filed against both parent and child or just the parent or just the child.
For what reason may my child be excused from school?
Texas recognizes only the following as valid reasons for absence:
- illness of the child;
2. sickness or death in the family;
4. religious holy days;
5. any other unusual cause acceptable to the school officials.
Parents must submit documentation within three days of returning to school. If you have sent the information to school and you receive a letter from the attendance office, please contact the school for confirmation of receiving the documentation.
What about religious holidays?
Your child will be excused for the purpose of observing religious holidays if you submit a written request/documentation for the absence.
What if I keep my child out for other reasons?
If your child is not properly excused from attendance and you fail to keep him in school for the period specified by law, you will be warned, in writing, that attendance is immediately required. If, after this warning, you intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence fail to require the child to attend school, you have committed an offense. This offense may result in the filing of a complaint against you in the Justice of the Peace Court of your resident precinct and other local courts, for engaging in conduct described in Section 51.013(b)(2), Family Code. [TEC. Sec. 25.093]
What are the penalties for this?
Each day your child remains out of school after the warning has been given, or your child has been ordered to attend school by the juvenile court, may constitute a separate offense. You may be subject to a $500 fine plus court costs.
The student may be ordered to complete community service, counseling program, or a career development class.
The court may order the parent to attend school with their child. A criminal background check will be conducted on all parents that attend school.[TEC. Sec. 25.093]
Can my child lose credit for being absent?
Yes. It is required by law, that a student must be in attendance at least 90% of each class, in order to receive credit for class. [TEC Sec. 25.092]
Reporting a Student's Absence
Parents of students are urged to notify the school office by 9 a.m. on the morning of any absence, or as soon after that as possible. Also, parents should phone the school each morning thereafter until the student returns to school. Parents should remember to send a note with their student explaining the absence on the day they return. Documentation must be provided within 72 hours following the absence.
Can absences be made up?
Yes -- for credit only. Attendance committees may hear petitions for class credit by students who, due to extenuating circumstances, are in attendance fewer than the number of days, required for credit. Schools are also to provide alternative ways for a student to make up work or regain lost credit because of absences. TEC. Section 25.092. Refer to Board Policy FEC (formerly FDD) for appeal process guidelines.
Recovered, made up, or appealed absences to attendance committees may not exempt a student and/or parent from court action. Saturday school does not erase absences.
How is tardiness handled?
Tardiness disrupts class and creates a disturbance to the instructional process. Students must be in their assigned seats when the tardy bell rings. If your child gets to class after the roll is taken, he may be marked absent for attendance purposes.
What if my child refuses to attend school?
It is well known that the adolescent years are particularly stressful years for students, and making the move from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school can bring about behaviors that were not present before.
Truancy and other forms of chronic school absenteeism are only symptoms of more serious problems such as poor self-image, depression, inability to make new friends, drug or alcohol problems, and negative peer pressure, abuse, poor academic skills, family and financial difficulties. When any of these or similar symptoms appear, you can help by immediately taking one or more of the following actions:
- check report cards for absences, low conduct marks and grades;
- call the school if you think your child has "skipped" school;
- if the school calls you, please provide accurate information. You encourage them by teaching them that there are no consequences for breaking rules.
Once a student is withdrawn from school and before they can be re-admitted to school, the parent or legal guardian must be present at the school to re-enroll the student.
It is vital that students attend school on a regular basis to be successful. It is a policy that schools contact parents of students who are absent.
Students will be withdrawn after 20 unexcused absences or before with appropriate information from a parent or reliable source.
Remember: Teenagers need parents who care enough to enforce rules and ask for help when it's needed.
- illness of the child;