Regular school attendance is essential. Absences from class may result in serious disruption of a student’s education. The student and parent should avoid unnecessary absences.
Two important state laws—one dealing with compulsory attendance and the other with how attendance affects the award of a student’s final grade or course credit—are discussed below.
Prekindergarten and Kindergarten
Students enrolled in prekindergarten kindergarten are required to attend school and are subject to the compulsory attendance requirements as long as they remain enrolled.
State law requires that a student 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 their 19th birthday, shall 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.
State law requires a student in kindergarten–grade 2 to attend any assigned accelerated reading instruction program. Parents will be notified in writing if their child is assigned to an accelerated reading instruction program based on a diagnostic reading instrument.
A student will be required to attend any assigned accelerated instruction program before or after school or during the summer if the student does not meet the passing standards on an applicable subject area state assessment.
Age 19 and Older
A student who voluntarily attends or enrolls after his or her 19th birthday is required to attend each school day until the end of the school year. If the student incurs more than five unexcused absences in a semester, 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 policy FEA for more information.]
All Grade Levels
State law allows exemptions to the compulsory attendance requirements for the following activities and events, as long as the student makes up all work:
- Religious holy days;
- Required court appearances;
- Activities related to obtaining U.S. citizenship;
- Documented health-care appointments for the student or a child of the student, including absences related to autism services, if the student returns to school on the same day of the appointment and brings a note from the health-care provider;
- Absences resulting from a serious or life-threatening illness or related treatment that makes a student’s attendance infeasible, with certification by a physician;
- For students in the conservatorship of the state:
- An activity required under a court-ordered service plan; or
- Any other court-ordered activity, provided it is not practicable to schedule the student’s participation in the activity outside of school hours.
For children of military families, absences of up to five days will be excused for a student to visit a parent, stepparent, or legal guardian going to, on leave from, or returning from certain deployments.
Note that documented health-care appointments may include telehealth appointments. Students who are physically on campus will not be allowed to participate in telehealth or other online appointments without specific authorization from an appropriate administrator. Students should not use district-issued technology, including wifi or internet, for telehealth appointments because use of district-owned equipment and its network systems is not private and will be monitored by the district. For more information, see Telecommunication and Other Electronic Devices.
Secondary Grade Levels
The district will allow a student who is 15 years of age or older to be absent for one day to obtain a learner license and one day to obtain a driver’s license, provided that the board has authorized such excused absences under policy FEA(LOCAL). The student will be required to provide documentation of his or her visit to the driver’s license office for each absence and must make up any work missed.
The district will allow junior and senior students to be absent for up to two days per year to visit a college or university, provided:
- The board has authorized such excused absences under policy FEA(LOCAL);
- The principal has approved the student’s absence; and
- The student follows campus procedures to verify the visit and makes up any work missed.
The district will allow a student 17 years old or older to be absent for up to four days during the period the student is enrolled in high school to pursue enlistment in the U.S. armed services or Texas National Guard, provided the student verifies these activities to the district.
The district will allow a student to be absent for up to two days per school year to serve as:
- An early voting clerk, provided the district’s board has authorized this in policy FEA(LOCAL), the student notifies his or her teachers, and the student receives approval from the principal prior to the absences; or
- An election clerk, if the student makes up any work missed.
The district will allow a student in grades 6–12 to be absent for the purpose of sounding “Taps” at a military honors funeral for a deceased veteran.
Compulsory Attendance—Failure to Comply
All Grade Levels
School employees must investigate and report violations of the compulsory attendance law.
A student absent without permission from school, any class, any required special program, or any required tutorial will be considered in violation of the compulsory attendance law and subject to disciplinary action.
Students with Disabilities
If a student with a disability is experiencing attendance issues, the student’s ARD or Section 504 committee will determine whether the attendance issues warrant an evaluation, a reevaluation, and/or modifications to the student's individualized education program or Section 504 plan, as appropriate.
When a student ages 6–18 incurs three or more unexcused absences within a four-week period, the law requires the school to send notice to the parent.
The notice will:
- Remind the parent of his or her duty to monitor the student’s attendance and require the student to attend school;
- Request a conference between school administrators and the parent; and
- Inform the parent that the district will initiate truancy prevention measures, including a behavior improvement plan, school-based community service, referrals to counseling or other social services, or other appropriate measures.
The truancy prevention facilitator for the district is: Patricia Matthews at 972-924-1000
For any questions about student absences, parents should contact the facilitator or any other campus administrator.
A court of law may impose penalties against the parent if a school-aged student is deliberately not attending school. The district may file a complaint against the parent if the student incurs ten or more unexcused absences within a six-month period in the same school year.
If a student age 12–18 incurs ten or more unexcused absences within a six-month period in the same school year, the district, in most circumstances, will refer the student to truancy court.
[See policies FEA(LEGAL) and FED(LEGAL) for more information.]
Age 19 and Older
After a student age 19 or older incurs a third unexcused absence, the district is required by law to send the student a letter explaining that the district may revoke the student’s enrollment for the remainder of the school year if the student has more than five unexcused absences in a semester. As an alternative to revoking a student’s enrollment, the district may implement a behavior improvement plan.