Child Truancy Laws in Texas

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Students in Texas receive 180 days of instruction in a typical school year. Truancy law in the state requires that students be present for over half of these days. The Texas Education Code outlines truancy laws in the state and includes guidelines that both school districts and parents must follow concerning school attendance for minors.

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The state of Texas requires that all children who are at least 6 years of age by Sept.1 of the school year or who have attended first grade be enrolled in school. This law applies to all children in Texas who are under the age of 18. Once a child is placed in kindergarten or pre-k, the truancy law is applicable.

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In order to receive credit for a class in Texas a student must attend school for 90 percent of the days that the class is in session. Excessive absences may be restored if the student fulfils the requirements for restoring credit that is cited by the school district.

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Absences are excused for any reason that is accepted by the teacher, principle or superintendent of the school district. Texas school districts require a note from a parent before absences are considered excused. Parents have 72 hours to provide this written excuse.

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If a child has missed 10 days or any segment of a day for 10 days within a six-month period, it is a violation of Texas truancy law. In addition, if a child has missed three days or more or any segment of a day within a four-week period it is also a violation.

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Parents in Texas are usually notified of their child’s excessive absences by the school. However, it is the parent’s responsibility to track his child’s attendance. Not being notified of the absences by the school is not an excuse in truancy court. Consequences are still enforced even if the parent did not receive notification.

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In most cases, once parents receive a warning and there is no improvement in attendance, a complaint is filed in a Texas truancy court. Failing to ensure that a child attends school is criminal negligence in Texas, which is a class C misdemeanor. Parents can receive a fine of up to $500.

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If a child has a physical or mental condition that makes attending school impossible, the child is not subject to Texas’ truancy law. The child’s physician must provide a note that states the characteristics of the condition, the treatment and how long the child is unable to attend school.

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