OPS School Board Could Change Absence Policy - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; kptm.com |

OPS School Board Could Change Absence Policy

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Franque Thompson (KPTM)- The Omaha Public School Board is looking into a new policy that would allow  more flexibility when it comes to student absences.

Some parents at Kellom Elementary School as well as other OPS parents want the district to start trusting them. If their children are absent from school, they said it's for a legitimate reason.

"It's not fair that the kids get penalized for being out just because they're sick.  They're not playing hooky because they're at home with the parents," Andrea Krueger said.

Sometimes sick kids can't always get a doctor's note for an excused absence. That's why OPS is looking to make some changes in its absence rules.  The revised policy would allow students to miss school for a religious holiday, court appearance, college visit, bereavement and a military deployment of a family member.

Some board members and parents said a new policy is needed because the current one is dated.

"Parents end up in a catch 22 of do I send them to school so that they're there and we don't get in trouble with the courts, or do I keep them home and help them get better?'"

Nebraska's truancy law requires any school to refer students to the county attorney's office if they have more than 20 absences during a school year.

Krueger said that some students just can't help missing school.  Her son had surgery and asthma issues. She said that she had letters from the doctor and still had to go to court for the absences.

With winter weather coming soon, Krueger hopes the new policy will come even sooner.

"A child gets sick and they got to come to school because other wise they'll get in trouble, but how are they going to get well, they're going to get worse being in that cold air."

The school board is expected to address the issue in the next two to three meetings.  If the proposal passes, the policy will start within this current school year. 

Back in 1998 there were 64 reasons for excused absences. Since then that number has significantly dropped. There are 10 categories for excused and unexcused absences.

If the policy were to pass that number would increase to about 14 or 15 categories.

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