With doctor’s appointments, therapy visits, and days where they’re just feeling sick, many children with disabilities or special health care needs miss a lot of school. In 2015, Texas came out with new attendance rules (rules about when your child has to be in school), including truancy rules for unexcused absences. Some of these rules help your child get extra time and support to make up work. And others, like the 90% rule, may mean that you need to work with the principal or a team from the school so your child can get credit for their classes.
Missing too much school can be hard on your child. Here are some ways that other families have made it easier to keep track of missed school time:
Our page on building relationships at your child’s school has other ideas that might help you and school staff be on the same team.
The Texas attendance rules say that a student has to be in a class at least 90% of the time if they want to be sure to get credit for that class. This rule applies even if your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan.
The average school year is 180 days. So, your child can only miss 18 days of school or 18 days of a specific class (or 9 days if they’re on a semester schedule) before the 90% rule affects their class credit.
For elementary school students, this means they could repeat a grade if they are in school less than 90% of school days. A middle- or high-school student might have to repeat a certain class if they didn’t attend at least 90% of the days of that class. You can read more about this rule on the Texas Education Agency website’s Attendance, Admission, Enrollment Records, and Tuition 2015-16 page. Your school district might also have information on their website.
How do you keep your child from missing this much school? Here are some ideas:
Even if your child has missed a lot of class or school and you’re worried about credit issues or the 90% rule kicking in, there are still ways for them to get the credit they need. It’s important to get in touch with the school to come up with a plan.
In some schools, you just work with the principal. In others, there is an attendance committee that includes the principal, attendance clerk, and maybe the school counselor or other staff too.
Some things that could go into a plan to get credit might be:
If your child has missed more than 25% of a class, the school will send you a letter asking you to come to a meeting or to write a letter explaining why your child has missed so much school. You can bring the notes from your child’s doctor and your other records of why they missed school to that meeting or include copies with your letter.
Even with your best efforts, your child is going to miss some days of school for important reasons. While it might take some time and work to get class credit, we want to be sure you know that the missed days don’t have to keep them from moving forward with their education.