Last Updated on August 10, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
Life is rosy for most California public school students who can attend school daily. However, if a student has a chronic medical situation and is missing a lot of school, a “Chronic Illness Verification Form” may be needed. This form can protect the student and parent from truancy and other legal issues.
Three Days Unexcused May Mean Student Is Labelled Truant
Truancy laws in California are very heavy handed. They allow the labelling of a student as a “truant” after the student has either three unexcused absences and/or misses more than 30 minutes of class three times without valid excuse (Education Code 48260).
Most schools allow students to miss three school days without a doctor’s note, and only the parent’s verification of illness. However, a fourth missed school day usually means a mandated doctor visit. If the parent does not get this medical excuse for that fourth absence, the student may receive an unexcused absence. Three of these unexcused absences may mean the student is labelled a “truant.”
Fourth Absence Means Doctor’s Visit or Unexcused
What happens if the student has an illness which keeps them out of school for a week. Or, what if they have a chronic condition, such as cancer, a heart condition, debilitating stomach or pain issues, etc.? Without a Chronic Illness Verification Form in place, a parent is still forced to drag the sick student to see a medical doctor, to avoid truancy.
It can be tough on parents and on the student.
Chronic Illness Verification Form Can Stop Need for Doctor’s Visit
To prevent the need to drag a sick student to a physician every time they miss four days or more, parents can obtain a “Chronic Illness Verification Form” from the student’s school.
Form Availability May Not Be Communicated by School
When a student has issues where they physically cannot attend school due to a long-term serious illness, the parent has options other than dragging the student to the doctor on the fourth day they are out of school. These options are not always communicated to parents by schools.
Parents may need to actively seek out the Chronic Illness Verification form themselves, and not wait around for a school to act.
Chronic Illness Form Must Be Completed by Medical Professional
Once the Chronic Illness Verification Form is completed by the student’s doctor, it is returned to the school, which may then validate the form came from the student’s physician.
Thereafter, the parent may excuse the student for medical reasons for an extended time period without having to go to the doctor. Work missed should be able to be made up. The student should no longer have truancy issues for parent-excused absences.
Chronic Illness Form Means Parents May Excuse Student
The student’s Chronic Illness Verification form, once completed, allows a parent to excuse a chronically ill student from school. Once validated by a medical professional and returned to the school, the form allows excused absences for a medically disabled student simply on the parents confirmation the student is home sick.
Parents then no longer have to bring the student to the doctor for medical verification each time they are sick and cannot attend school.
With a Chronic Illness Verification Form in place, the student should not get a truancy for the fourth day (or more) of school missed because they are sick.
Other Options to Help Chronically Sick Students
Other options to help a student with a long term medical situation may be Home Hospital Instruction (HHI), as well as setting up a Section 504 Plan, or even an IEP (Individualized Education Program). A Health Plan may also be developed in conjunction with the school nurse.
Chronic Illness Forms, along with these other supports, help avert attendance issues for a student who just cannot go to school due to a serious long term illness. They allow an already stressed parent to breathe a large sigh of relief that even though the student is very ill, at least a doctor’s visit is not needed every fourth sick day to avoid truancy threats at school.
Student lawyer and advocate Michelle Ball supports parents and students who are chronically ill to obtain proper services and supports in schools. Her attorney office is in Sacramento, California, so she can reach statewide to Lincoln, Yuba City, Clear Lake, Chico, Sonora, and other in-state locations.