What is the new school attendance policy?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A new school attendance policy went into effect this fall for all public schools in Arkansas.

The new law, Act 1223, no longer recognizes absences as excused or unexcused, and school districts must decide how many days students are allowed to miss each semester.

Students who exceed their absences face punishment.  "You could be turned into the prosecuting attorney, you could lose credit if you're at the junior high or senior high for some courses," said Nettleton Public Schools (NPS) superintendent James Dunivan.

Students who have to miss more days than their school district allows due to medical reasons can apply for a 504 plan or get an exemption from the principal of the school.  Also, school sanctioned activities do not count towards the allotted absences.

Supt. Dunivan said NPS changed it's attendance policy to a similar plan several years ago. NPS allows students six absences per semester.

"Alot of kids do have regular appointments because of medical issues and it's nobody's fault, but we need to be aware of it.  That way we can protect them and their credits."

Rep. James Mc Lean, D-Batesville sponsored Act 1223 to discourage truancy.

"We all have to use good judgement on these, but I think what the law is aimed at is to tell kids 'we want you to be in school,'" said Supt. Dunivan.

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