Katy School District Won't Bend On Unexcused Absence

Katy School District Reprimands 12-Year-Old For Attending His Cousin’s Funeral

The Katy School District in Katy, Texas, has caused outrage with its decision to mark a 12-year-old boy’s absence “unexcused” after he attended his cousin’s funeral, reports KHOU11.

The boy’s mom, Christine Barr, said she was furious over the decision and the threatening letter that the Katy ISD sent to her home following the absence.

The child’s cousin, Fiona “Kitty” Carroll, was a five-year-old, who died in a tragic drowning accident at a marina in April.

Since Barr’s son had missed “a number of days” leading up to the funeral, the district decided to send a letter to the Barr home with warnings of “legal action,” which might include fines and prosecution.

When informed that the 12-year-old was at the funeral of his cousin, the Katy School District informed Barr that such absences were only unexcused for a “nuclear” family member or grandparent.

“I think it’s a parent’s decision whether or not attendance at a funeral would be important,” said Barr, who is a teacher herself. “I think the compassionate response for a child’s emotional and social learning would be to allow attendance at a funeral.”

It’s also worth noting at this point that Barr said the district had mistakenly counted her son absent on some days when he was actually in attendance, and that they had since corrected some of those mistakes, but they were still not going to budge on the funeral.

Barr did say she intends to take the matter up with the school board.

As for the Katy School District, they have not yet issued a statement on their reasoning behind the decision to uphold the unexcused absence in spite of a significant public outcry.

Some commenters at the Stir were especially miffed by the decision.

“Schools should not get to decide whether an absence is excused or not,” wrote one commenter.

“When I was a kid, excused absence meant that your parents had excused the absence (sick, funeral, vacation, whatever). Unexcused meant you had skipped class without permission and were truant… Now the government tries to cut down on truancy by holding the parents accountable if their kids skip class. And schools get financial incentives to keep kids in school. But they have usurped parental authority by dictating to parents what absences are excused or not.”

“Schools do not own children,” wrote another. “If a parent writes a note asking the school to excuse the student’s absence, no reason should be needed, and the absence should be excused.”

What do you think, readers? Is the Katy School District out of line here? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via KHOU11, video link above]

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