Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm a Little Ticked Off at Pete's Principal

Pete and I are going on a trip later this month. Our little school has a policy where a child can have an absence excused that would not normally be excused if the absence is for educational purposes. The form you have to fill out is called: FORM TO REQUEST EXCUSED ABSENCE(S) DUE TO VALID EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY- [PETE'S SCHOOL], and at the bottom it says "--Approved by School Leadership Team 2/13/07--" so the form at least is specific to our school. Not sure about the policy. The request has to be approved by the principal so I sent this email to get a head start:

Dr. MC,

I have a question about having an absence excused because the reason for the absence is educational. My daughter Pete is in Ms. C's class. Pete and I have an opportunity to go to a family reunion later this month, but it would cause her to miss 1 day of school. It seems like this would be a good opportunity for Pete to learn about family relationships since the people she will meet there are my very extended family. What we need to do to apply to have the absence excused? Would Pete need to do a project of some sort (like a family tree - we may do that anyway...)?

I thank you for any help you can give me with this.


and got this response:

HI MN, thanks for the email. Visiting family reunions is not an excused absence according to state law. I am attaching the rquest (SIC) form, however, for your information. MC

I filled out the form and sent it in with Pete anyway. I included an explanation of why I believe the trip is educational and suggested that Pete build a family tree to show what she learns. The form came back the very same day with an X in the request denied spot and no further explanation.

So I sent this email:

Thank you, Dr. MC. We got your response that Pete's absence will not be excused.

If you don't mind, would you please clarify the purpose of the application for absences to be excused for educational reasons? Is there a list somewhere of what sorts of absences are covered by this? It is possible that while family reunions are not a valid excuse, an activity we have planned on this trip might be, and I would like to have the opportunity to investigate that. Also, who should I lobby to include trips like this one, which I believe should be included since they are cultural? I specifically remember studying family relationships in elementary school social studies.

Thank you for your attention to this. I am sure you are busy.


and got this response:

Information will be coming out in the folders this week.

No information came home in the folder. So I sent this email:

I am sorry Dr. MC. I assumed you meant the Thursday folders and we did not receive any information about absences. I know I am being a pest, but I'm not trying to. I am honestly trying to understand how the "educational absence" thing is supposed to work and to understand why our request was denied. You said below that family reunions aren't excused under state law; I assume you meant like illness or family deaths are. I was under the impression that this was the point of the request - to have an absence excused that would not normally be because the child is learning while away from school. Are there only certain activities that are approve-able? If there is a limiting list of what type of absence would be approved, would you please forward it to me? Or point me to where to find it? I have searched the [school] and [school system] websites and handbooks but did not find anything. I feel like I have completely misunderstood the purpose of the request form and would simply like to learn more.

Thank you.


And that is where we stand (I just sent it). I'm not trying to get her to change her mind about denying the request (although it would be cool if she did), but I just don't get it! If there is a specific list ("according to state law"), shouldn't it be posted somewhere or included on the form or something? And honestly it doesn't seem like she gave our request much consideration, sending it back to us the very same day. So her hands must be tied by some law or something, right? Because she clearly didn't think about it at all.

We're going on the trip, whether it's excused or not. Pete won't win any awards for perfect attendance, but she will get to meet Moomie's brother and sister and their families, which is more valuable, in my opinion, than some certificate or whatever.

The absence also counts against the school when the school system is allocating whatever they allocate each year, but that's the principal's problem now. I tried.


Dana said...

Okay, I have several issues with this!!

1) Why do you need their permission to take your kid out of school? It's your kid, said kid has your permission, that should be good enough! If they're going to be a pain about it, just call her in sick. ;)

2) This smacks of infringement of civil liberties. Tell them you have a right to exercise your freedom of family.

3) So what? That means if your child was attending a funeral, that's excusable?? But visiting living and, presumably, healthy family is not justified?? *shakes head* What is this world coming to....

Mommy's Nintendo said...

Hi Dana! Good points! Here's what I think:

1. I've done that and thought I'd try it their way this time, but...
2. I'm taking her anyway whether they like it or not, and...
3. That's a great point about dead relatives being more valuable than living ones! I may use that if I ever get the chance to argue my point to someone.

CandCFamily said...

I know our school is studying family traditions right now, so I woudl hope something as valuable as a family reunion would be excused.
Our school is super strict and I can imagine them doing the same. What a shame! I would bring her anyway, too.

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