Texas requires a child who is at least 6 years of age, or who is younger than 6 years of age and has previously been enrolled in first grade, and who has not yet reached his/her 18th birthday to attend school unless exempt by law. Students enrolled in prekindergarten or kindergarten shall attend school.
The state compulsory attendance law also requires that a child 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 eighteenth birthday is required to attend each school day until the end of the school year. However, if a student eighteen or older has more than five unexcused absences in a semester, the district may revoke the student’s enrollment. The student’s presence on school property is then unauthorized and may be considered trespass.
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; from additional instruction assigned by a placement/attendance committee 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/or his or her parents. A complaint may be filed in the appropriate court if the student:
Is absent from school ten (10) or more days, or parts of days, within a six month period in the same school year, or
Is absent from school on three (3) or more days, or parts of days, within a four-week period.
Tardies are considered parts of days.
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 healthcare appointments, including absences for recognized services for students diagnosed with 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 visit, and makes up any work missed.
A person required to attend school may be excused for temporary absence resulting from any unusual cause acceptable to the Superintendent, the principal or the teacher of the school in which the student is enrolled. Such causes may include, but are not limited to: 1) personal sickness; 2) family emergency; 3) documented juvenile court proceeding; 4) Board approved extracurricular activity; or 5) approved college visitation.
Absences such as non-school related vacations and trips, babysitting, working (including modeling), and non-school sponsored athletic events and programs shall be considered unexcused. If a student is going to be absent more than ten consecutive days, the student shall be withdrawn at the end of the tenth day.
Attendance for Course Credit
To receive credit in a class, a student must attend at least 90 percent of the days the class is offered. If a student does not attend a class 90% of the time, it is the policy of FISD to allow the student to make up the missed time in either Saturday School and/or Detentions prior to the end of the semester in which the time was missed in order to come into compliance with the law and gain credit for the class in question. (Time made up in Saturday School will be at a cost of $5 per hour as is all other Saturday School assignments.) FISD high school students are in violation of the 90% attendance law if and when they accumulate five (5) or more absences in any given class. Students who are in violation of the attendance code and who fail to make up the amount of time required to be in compliance with the law will be denied credit for that class for that semester. An attendance committee consisting of school administration and faculty will hear any appeals if a student or parent wishes to appeal a denial of credit brought about by failure to attend a class at least 90% of the days in the semester.
Note: All absences, both excused and unexcused, count against the 90% attendance rule and for exemption purposes.