The DoD school system, which operates schools on some stateside bases and all US overseas bases, announced last week a new school attendance policy that requires students to either be in school 180 of the about 182 scheduled school days a year, or make up the course work. The rule applies to all grades, including kindergarten.
The new policy, officers with DoD’s education activity (DoDEA) say, simply makes uniform across the system the rules and expectations that have likely already been in place at the local level. It gives local administrators guidelines on what is to be considered an “excused” absence and gives principals the final say on working with parents.
The burning question here is: what about R&R or predeployment and postdeployment leave? Sorry, but the military does not take into account the school system when sending our warfighters home. And while education is super important, spending time with a returning parent is, in my view, more so.
DoDEA officials say those leave times fall in the excused absence category. But they also repeat that kids who miss more than five days a year will be handed over to a case manager. Policy details from the DoDEA site:
The main change is the requirement that a student must be in school a minimum of 180 days of the school year. This is in line with most of the public schools in the United States. Another change is that the principal has final authority to identify an absence as excused from school and institute a Student Educational Monitoring Plan to be completed during absences when appropriate.You can read the full policy here and a story about on Military.com here. Since I don’t have a child in the school system, I’m not familiar with how attendance policies have worked on the local level in the past. Will this be a big change for your family? Do you think this attendance policy is unreasonable?
Other key components of the new policy include:
- A requirement for students to complete an educational plan consistent with regularly planned school work during absences;
- Increased communication with parents about the effect of absences on student performance;
- Referral of students with 5 days of absences to the Student Support Team and with 7 days of absences to the local Command for appropriate intervention and support; and
- Daily record-keeping, review, analysis of attendance.