The Connecticut State Board of Education (“SBOE”) recently approved definitions of excused and unexcused absences for purposes of determining when a student is considered truant under Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-198a, and for purposes of reporting truancy to the State Department of Education (“SDE”). A full copy of the approved resolution can be accessed here.
The resolution specifically provides that an absence is considered excused if the student has been absent for less than ten days during the school year and the student’s parent or guardian approves such absence and provides written, signed documentation of such approval within ten days of the student’s return to school. The written documentation should explain the nature and reason for the absence, as well as the anticipated length of the absence. Starting with the tenth day of absence in one school year, the absence will be considered excused, with appropriate documentation, only for the following reasons:
- Student illness;
- Student religious observance;
- Death in the family or other emergency outside the control of the student’s family;
- Mandated court appearance, with appropriate documentation;
- The lack of transportation that is normally provided by a district other than the one the student attends (no parent documentation is required);
- Extraordinary educational opportunities pre-approved by district administrators and in accordance with Connecticut State Department of Education guidance.
School absence for any other reason, except for a school implemented disciplinary action, will be considered unexcused, even if the parent excuses the absence. It should be noted that the SBOE has made clear that all student absences for illness, irrespective of the length of the absence, must be verified by a licensed medical professional in order for the absence to be considered excused.
We encourage school districts to amend their board policies in accordance with the SBOE’s definitions of excused and unexcused absences and to use these definitions in making truancy decisions and in reporting truancy to the SDE. School districts are still free to use their own definitions of excused and unexcused absence for internal purposes, such as grading, promotion and retention, and discipline.