What Happens When Kids Skip School Here in Texas?
Ok, Texas - let's be real here. At some point, just about every kid is going to skip school.
Maybe they're nervous about a test, avoiding a bully, or just don't feel like sitting in class that day. Whatever the reason, most kids aren't going to have a perfect attendance record. It's just reality.
Then there are days a kid has to miss school for a doctor's appointment, family emergency, or whatever pops up in life. Hey, it happens.
So, how much school can a kid miss in Texas?
Ever Heard of the 90% Rule?
No, the rule doesn't say it's safe to eat something off the floor as long as only 90% of it touched the ground.
In a recent article about Texas' truancy policies, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram shared information about our state's 90% rule.
What Is the 90% Rule?
Simple: Your kiddo is required to attend class at least 90% of the time during a school year.
According to nagivatelifetexas.org, the average school year in Texas is 180 days, so a student can't miss more than 18 days of a specific class (or 9 days if they're on a semester schedule) due to unexcused absences.
Excused Absences in Texas
The key word in that last paragraph is unexcused. Under the Texas Education Code, it's possible to have excused absences for reasons including medical appointments, religious holidays, and trips to colleges the student might want to attend. You can read more about excused absences here.
What Happens If Your Kid Breaks the 90% Rule?
The Star-Telegram reports that if a student has three unexcused absences in the span of four weeks, their school will send a letter home letting parents know the kid is subject to truancy prevention measures.
Since 2015, Texas law has changed to try to prevent sending kids to truancy court if possible, but it could happen, and that could lead to a teenage student's driver's license being suspended or delayed. That's on top of facing potentially being held back a grade or even expelled.
But Parents, Don’t Think You’re Off the Hook
If your child has 10 or more unexcused absences with a six-month period, you could face prosecution for contributing to truancy - a misdemeanor that could still cost you some serious money.
The Star-Telegram listed fines as high as $500.
Most Schools Let Kids Make Up The Time
If your kid misses too much school and those absences aren't excused, there's still hope.
Kids can make the time up by attending extra study hall time (some schools do this on Saturdays), going to tutoring, attending office hours, or going to afterschool SAT and ACT practice sessions. Navigate Life Texas has more details here.
The Moral of the Story?
Don't skip school! It just causes more trouble than it's worth. If you're having difficulty, talk to a school counselor or a trusted teacher. They want to help.