YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL ATTENDANCE
School is starting in Tennessee. For many school-aged children, this means early mornings and bedtimes. While this transition back to school is difficult at times, it is important to be familiar with your school district’s attendance policy. Failure to compel your child’s attendance at school could have far reaching consequences for your ability to parent your children.
The school year for students is 180 days, and educators will tell you that student attendance at school is important every one of those days because your child’s learning is directly linked to being in class every day. Of course, every family has its priorities and internal policies for parenting children.
No matter what the family priorities and parenting styles are, every child and parent should understand the Tennessee laws governing school attendance so informed decisions and monitoring to protect your child, and your family, can take place. Tennessee has a Compulsory School Attendance Law that requires all children ages 6-17 to attend school each day. The law gives school districts authority to set requirements related to student attendance that must follow state guidelines. Some of those guidelines include firm but fair attendance policies, effective accounting and reporting procedures, policies that accommodate extenuating circumstances, appeal procedures to assure the child’s right to due process, and the establishment of alternative programs to provide educational options for any student who severely fails to meet minimum attendance requirements.
The best way to know your district’s attendance requirements regarding excused and unexcused absences is to visit its website and follow any links for students and parents. Look within the parent link for a heading labeled “Attendance.” Parents should be vigilant and monitor their child’s attendance record to ensure that unexcused and excused absences are reported accurately. Why? Because each time a student accumulates five unexcused absences, a school official must give the student’s parent/guardian written notice of the unexcused absences. This can eventually lead to a petition being filed in Juvenile Court against the child and/or the parent that could affect your right to parent your child. We will explore those parameters in a future article.
**Kelli Haas is certified as a Juvenile and Child Welfare Law Specialist by the National Association of the Council for Children. Should you have any questions, as always, feel free to contact us at (615) 567-7304 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.khalawgroup.com.