Texas Truancy and Attendance Laws
When I was growing up I was only allowed to miss school if I was dead or near death. Short of that, missing school was out of the question. This draconian rule was enforced by my mom, the disciplinarian of the family. It got so bad that sometimes my dad would take us out of school early for a secret trip to McDonald’s (a restaurant we were banned from going to). I am now 31 years old and my mom still doesn't know about these secret trips.
But the reality is that most students will miss school for a variety of reasons. Some absences are considered excused while others are not. As the parent or guardian of a child under age 17, it is your responsibility to know the specific attendance requirements for your child. Familiarizing yourself with this information before the issue arises will avoid truancy charges and ensure that your child does not have excessive absences on his/her school record.
Compulsory Attendance Rule— Texas Education Code §25.085
Texas public school attendance and truancy are governed by state law. The state’s compulsory attendance statue requires that all children under 17 attend school. Violation of this law means that a child has too many unexcused absences . Parents or guardians of children who violate this rule face truancy charges. Furthermore, students age 12-17 may also be charged with truancy in some cases. What constitutes excessive absences varies by district. Most schools provide students with a handbook at the beginning of each school year which details the district's attendance rules. You must refer to this handbook to find out your child's specific requirements.
Excused Absences—Texas Education Code §25.087
Under Texas Education Code §25.087, some absences are excused if certain criteria are met. The most common types of excused absences under the statue are:
- Observance of religious holy days
- Participation in naturalization ceremony
- Required court appearance
A student whose absence is excused must be given a reasonable amount of time to make up school work missed on those days. If the student successfully completes the school work, the day of the absence will be counted as though they attended.
Exemptions—Texas Education Code §25.086
Under Texas Education Code §25.086, some types of missed days are not considered absences and are therefore exempt from the compulsory attendance rule. The most common types of exemptions under the statute are missed days due to:
- A temporary physical or mental condition
- Expulsion in a district that does not have an alternate juvenile education program
- Enrollment in a course to prepare for the high school equivalency exam (GED)
- Enrollment in a Texas Academy Program
Truancy—Texas Education Code §25.091
If a student has excessive unexcused absences, the parents or legal guardian may be charged with truancy. Students between the ages of 12-17 may also be charged with truancy in certain circumstances. Truancy is considered a misdemeanor which can result in a maximum fine of $500 plus court costs. In addition, school officials have the discretion to make periodic visits to the student’s home, escort the child to school, or institute specific truancy prevention measures to ensure the child’s attendance.
For answers to specific questions, I recommend reading the full text of the statues and contacting a school administrator. You can also contact The Texas Young Lawyers’ Association (TYLA), who in conjunction with the State Bar of Texas, recently published a free pamphlet entitled “Truancy Guide” for parents of children under the age 18. It is not yet available online, but you can email email@example.com or call (800) 204-2222 ext. 1529 to request a copy. The resources provided by TYLA for the public are an invaluable source of information for Texas residents. Their free pamphlets cover a wide variety of legal issues involving minors such as teaching children about the law, offenses committed by minors, and child safety, to name a few.
- Your Rights on Campus
A guide for public high school students on their constitutional rights at school.
- Texas Honor Student Jailed For Truancy | Fox News
People have raised more than $70,000 for a 17-year-old Texas honor student jailed for missing too much school because she worked two jobs to support her siblings.
The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice. The information provided is not intended to create, and viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
© 2012 Bahin Ameri
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