Controversial new school attendance policy has parents seeing red

Concerns over school absence policy

PELL CITY, Ala. (WBRC) - A new school attendance policy is causing an uproar in Pell City.

The new guidelines went into effect in January and some parents complained they got little notice nor did they have a say in the changes.

Parents say they got a letter in January amending the school attendance policy district-wide. The new policy says students with any unexcused absences or more than three excused absences would not be allowed to go on any school field trips scheduled within 9 weeks of the student missing class; additional absences could mean detention, suspension, or court referral.

The new guidelines went into effect in January and some parents complained they got little notice nor did they have a say in the changes.
The new guidelines went into effect in January and some parents complained they got little notice nor did they have a say in the changes. (Source: wbrc)

Several parents reached out to WBRC FOX6 News for help. All of them asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation against their children.

"If your child gets the flu, pinkeye, strep throat, even lice, I mean you can’t send your kid to school with that stuff, " said one parent.

“Right now the flu is bad and you have to be out for five days regardless,” another complained.

Some parents even threatened to pull their children out of the system.

“A lot of parents say they are taking their kids out and are home schooling,” one parent declared.

The notice said the policy changes are due to research indicating attendance has a strong correlation with academic success.

The parents we spoke to said they’d like to see the new policy tailored to grade level and revised to accommodate missed days due to illness.

“If a sophomore or junior [in high school] is getting prepared for the real world- If I miss work too many days, then they are not going to keep me there very long. So, I can get that point,” said a parent. “But on the elementary children, children that their immunity still isn’t fully built, then that’s a little harsh.”

The notice also mentioned an incentive like getting out of school early for students who comply with the new policy.

We are in touch with the Superintendent of Pell City Schools. We have requested an interview to discuss this issue. We will update this story when that happens.

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