Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
Life may seem rosy for most California public school kids as they can attend school and are there for most of the material, homework, tests and other school activities. However, if you find your child is missing a lot of school due to a long term illness and attendance is becoming an issue, completion of a “Chronic Illness Verification Form” may help protect your child, as well as you, from truancy and other issues.
Truancy laws in California can be very heavy handed and allow punishment for a student with 3 unexcused absences and/or who misses more than 30 minutes in a day without valid excuse (Ed §48260). Although most schools allow students to miss 3 days without a doctor’s note, and only parent verification of illness, the fourth day means a mandated visit to a doctor just to get a note. If the parent does not get this note for that day and days following, the student may be stuck with an unexcused absence. Three of these unexcused sick days (days beyond what the school allows a parent to excuse) without a doctor’s note may may mean the student is labelled a “truant.”
What happens if the child has an illness which keeps them out for a week at a time, and a doctor visit won’t alter this (as it is a chronic condition such as cancer, heart condition, debilitating stomach or pain issues, etc.)? The parent is still forced to drag their child to a waiting room to see a medical person, and must incur a bill for the office visit just to confirm the child is ill and receives an excused absence. This is even the case if the parent already knows their child is sick from illness, but must just stay out a fourth, fifth, etc. day of school in a row prior to being able to return to school.
Schools may not tell parents, but when a student has issues where they physically cannot attend school frequently, which are medically documented, the parent has options other than dragging their child to the doctor on the fourth day of any absence. These options are not always communicated to families by schools.
One great option for parents is to have their doctor complete a “Chronic Illness Verification Form,” (link to form which opens a Word document). This form gives the parent the ability to excuse their child beyond the 3 days the schools normally allow. The preface in the form states:
“The Chronic Illness Form allows parents to excuse absences due to a specific medical condition with the same authority as a medical professional.”
It may be best to ask for the school’s form as a first step, but a parent does not have to wait to get this form from their school. Rather, parents can take this form directly to their child’s doctor.
Once this form is completed by the medical professional, it is returned to the school, which may verify the form came from the physician. Thereafter, the parent may excuse their child for medical reasons for an extended time period without having to go to the doctor. Work missed should be able to be made up and truancy issues will hopefully not be pursued (fingers crossed as some districts try to pursue truancy for “excessive excused” absences).
Other options for help with this type of situation are Home Hospital Instruction (HHI), as well as setting up a Section 504 Plan, or even an IEP (Individualized Education Program). However, while those may be pending or even not pursued by the parent, this form can help a parent deal with a student who just cannot go to school due to their illness. It allows an already stressed parent to breathe a large sigh of relief that even though their child is very ill, at least a doctor’s visit is not needed every fourth day to avoid truancy at school.
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Website, Blog, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.