Topics in this section of the handbook contain important information on academics, school activities, and school operations and requirements. Take a moment with your child to become familiar with the various issues addressed in this section. It is organized in alphabetical order to serve as a quick-reference when you or your child has a question about a specific school-related issue. Should you be unable to find the information on a particular topic, please contact Mrs. Lynn Pool at 817-598-2858, or Mrs. Kristy Dowd at 817-598-2847.
Regular school attendance is essential for a student to make the most of his or her education—to benefit from teacher-led and school activities, to build each day’s learning on the previous day’s, and to grow as an individual. Absences from class may result in serious disruption of a student’s mastery of the instructional materials; therefore, the student and parent 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. They are discussed below.
State law requires that a student between the ages of six and 18 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.
A student who voluntarily attends or enrolls after his or her 18th birthday is required to attend each school day until the end of the school year and may be subject to compulsory attendance laws, if the student is under 21 years old. In addition, if a student 18 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 thereafter would be unauthorized and may be considered trespassing. [See Policy FEA.]
Students enrolled in prekindergarten or kindergarten are required to attend school.
State law requires attendance in an accelerated reading instruction program when kindergarten, first grade, or second grade students are assigned to such a program. Parents will be notified in writing if their child is assigned to an accelerated reading instruction program as a result of a diagnostic reading instrument.
A student in grades 3–8 will be required to attend any assigned accelerated instruction program, which may occur before or after school or during the summer, if the student does not meet the passing standards on the state assessment for his or her grade level and applicable subject area.
Exemptions to Compulsory Attendance
State law allows exemptions to the compulsory attendance requirements for several types of absences if the student makes up all work. 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 health-care appointments, including absences for recognized services for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. A note from the health-care provider must be submitted upon the student’s return to campus.
In addition, a junior or senior student’s absence of up to two days related to visiting a college or university will be considered an exemption, provided the student receives approval from the campus principal, follows the campus procedures to verify such a visit, and makes up any work missed.
Failure to Comply with Compulsory Attendance
School employees must investigate and report violations of the state compulsory attendance law. A student absent without permission from school; from any class; from required special programs, such as additional special instruction, termed “accelerated instruction” by the state; or from required tutorials will be considered in violation of the compulsory attendance law and subject to disciplinary action.
A court of law may also impose penalties against both the student and his or her parents if a school-aged student is deliberately not attending school. A complaint against the parent may be filed in 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.
For a student younger than 12 years of age, the student’s parent could be charged with a criminal offense based on the student’s failure to attend school. If a student age 12 through age 17 violates the compulsory attendance law, both the parent and student could be charged with a criminal offense. If a student is age 18 or older, the student may be subject to penalties as a result of the student’s violation of the state compulsory attendance law. [See Policy FEA(LEGAL).]
Attendance for Credit
To receive credit in a class, a student must attend at least 90 percent of the days the class is offered. A student who attends at least 75 percent but fewer than 90 percent of the days the class is offered may receive credit for the class if he or she completes a plan, approved by the principal, that allows the student to fulfill the instructional requirements for the class. If a student is involved in a criminal or juvenile court proceeding, the approval of the judge presiding over the case will also be required before the student receives credit for the class.
If a student attends less than 75 percent of the days a class is offered or has not completed a plan approved by the principal, then the student will be referred to the attendance review committee to determine whether there are extenuating circumstances for the absences and how the student can regain credit, if appropriate. [See Policy FEC.]
In determining whether there were extenuating circumstances for the absences, the attendance committee will use the following guidelines:
All absences will be considered in determining whether a student has attended the required percentage of days. If makeup work is completed, absences for the reasons listed above at Exemptions to Compulsory Attendance will be considered days of attendance for this purpose.
A transfer or migrant student begins to accumulate absences only after he or she has enrolled in the District.
In reaching a decision about a student’s absences, the committee will attempt to ensure that it is in the best interest of the student.
The committee will consider the acceptability and authenticity of documented reasons for the student’s absences.
The committee will consider whether the absences were for reasons over which the student or the student’s parent could exercise any control.
The committee will consider the extent to which the student has completed all assignments, mastered the essential knowledge and skills, and maintained passing grades in the course or subject.
The student or parent will be given an opportunity to present any information to the committee about the absences and to talk about ways to earn or regain credit.
The student or parent may appeal the committee’s decision to the Board of Trustees by filing a written request with the superintendent in accordance with Policy FNG(LOCAL).
The actual number of days a student must be in attendance in order to receive credit will depend on whether the class is for a full semester or for a full year.
Official Attendance-Taking Time
WISD must submit attendance of its students to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) reflecting attendance at a specific time each day.
Official attendance is taken every day at 10:00 a.m. A student absent for any portion of the day, including at the official attendance-taking time, should follow the procedures below.
Parent’s Note after a Student’s Absence
When a student must be absent from school, the parent must notify the school immediately to indicate the reason for the child’s absence. Upon returning to school, the student must bring a note signed by the parent that describes the reason for the absence. School administrators may require that a parent provide other documentation if/when absences are excessive or questionable. A note signed by the student, even with the parent’s permission, will not be accepted unless the student is 18 or older.
Upon return to school, a student absent for more than three (3) consecutive days because of a personal illness must bring a statement from a doctor or health clinic verifying the illness or condition that caused the student’s extended absence from school.
Should the student develop a questionable pattern of absences, the principal or attendance committee may require a statement from a doctor or health clinic verifying the illness or condition that caused the student’s absence from school.
[See Policy FEC(LOCAL).]
Driver License Attendance Verification
For a student between the ages of 16 and 18 to obtain a driver license, written parental permission must be provided for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to access the student’s attendance records and, in certain circumstances, for a school administrator to provide the student’s attendance information to DPS. A verification of enrollment (VOE) form may be obtained from the office, which the student will need to submit to DPS upon application for a driver license.