Excused or unexcused absences: the law behind the policy


Benjamin Prengler

Senior Drew Carson signs into school after arriving late to school. It’s a process dozens of students go through each day but simply checking in and out of school does not mean a student’s absence is excused as there are state guidelines for determining this (see sidebar).

Claire Peralta , Staff Reporter

Though they affect all students, few know the absence rules detailing how often they have to be at school, and precisely which absences count against them.

[sidebar title=”What is considered an excused absence:” align=”left”]

  • Observing religious holy days
  • attending a required court appearance
  • appearing at a governmental office to complete paperwork required in connection with the student’s application for United States citizenship
  • taking part in a United States naturalization oath ceremony, serving as an election clerk
  • a temporary absence resulting from an appointment with health care professionals


According to the Texas Education Code, students are required to fulfill compulsory attendance, or at least 90 percent of their classes per year, or they will not receive credit.

Excused absences are not counted in the state’s record of absences, but are considered days of attendance. Ultimately, “excused absences” are up to the discretion of the school.

“In addition to the 90 percent rule, the state of Texas also enforces what is called a truancy law,” Principal Chris Mayfield said.  “This measures attendance within a certain time period, for example, four weeks. In cases like that with shorter parameters, the administrators will examine the circumstances as to why the students missed school. If it was a valid reason, like a doctor’s appointment, or maybe they were sick for an extended period of time, we will get the opportunity to examine those and excuse the student.”

Teachers are able to discern whether or not the student’s absences are valid.

“The school doesn’t make the compulsory attendance rules,” associate principal Teresa Dodson said. “It’s the state law that if a student is absent for more than three days within a four week period then we have to review it otherwise the state will.”

There are ways for students with excused absences to make up the time that they have missed in order to not be punished by the state.

“A student whose absence is excused… shall be allowed a reasonable time to make up school work missed on those days,” according to the Texas Education Code. “If the student satisfactorily completes the school work, the day of absence shall be counted as a day of compulsory attendance.”

Students can make up the hours and schoolwork missed in a variety of ways

“Students can attend tutoring outside of school and document it,” Mayfield said. “They can also attend Thursday night school until they get their attendance up to state standards. However, it’s much easier to just come to school.”