The county school board tucked its proposal for five days of annual student absences for family trips or college visits into a subsectionof its attendance policy last week, hoping the revision will pass state review.
The board also closed a loophole that gave students credit for making up work missed when they cut classes. The board addeda provision that will allow teachers to deduct points for make-up work that comes in late.
State education officials' objections earlier this year forced the county board to ask for revisions from the committee that drew up the policy, which was adopted in June 1991.
Board members agreed toplace the five days under a category that excuses student absences for emergencies or circumstances that the superintendent judges to be "good and sufficient cause." But the board rejected a committee recommendation to list the five days as an example of those circumstances.
"I take 'for example' to mean there are other examples and we're only listing one," said Vice Chairman Dana F. Hanna.
The board waswrestling with the wording because State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick's objection to the original version was based on language. Grasmick said five days "at parental discretion" did not fit the state's definition of a lawful absence, but that family or college trips could be added as one of the circumstances that can be approved by the superintendent.
Students receive credit for making up work they missduring excused or lawful absences, but not for unexcused absences such as truancy or cutting classes.
Board member Susan J. Cook said she wanted to be sure the revised version would meet state approval. "I just don't want them coming back to us again. I didn't like the fact that they came back to us the first time," she said.
The version approved Thursday allows students to be absent five days a year "for a purpose determined by a parent, guardian (or) caretaker." The absences must be approved in advance by the superintendent or someone hedesignates.
The board closed a loophole that allowed students to skip classes and then receive full credit for making up the work. Students exploited that loophole, Alice W. Haskins, middle schools director and chairwoman of the attendance policy committee, told board members last month.
Changes adopted Thursday will give students credit for make-up work only for excused absences. Teachers will be allowed to deduct points for make-up work that is turned in past deadline.