Parents petition online to change Horry County Schools attendance plan

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A petition to change Horry County Schools' attendance plan is reaching parents through their computers, parents are addressing concerns that have them adding their signatures.

More than 700 have virtually signed an online petition, pleading for changes to district policies. Petition organizers say they're hoping social media help will promote the petition and lead to change. The main concern in the petition is the handling of unexcused absences. District policy calls for no more than 10 absences; however, if your child is unexcused three consecutive or five total times, you will get a letter from the school.

The letter leads to a conference where rules are put in place in an Attendance Intervention Plan between the parent and the school.

"My children cannot be tardy without a doctor's note, they cannot be dismissed now without a doctor's note and they can't be absent without a doctor's note," says Nicole Couilliard, who attended a meeting.

The petition addresses parents' concerns that the attendance policy takes away their right to make decisions for their kids.

"Take care of our children without sending them to school with a stomach flu, because doctors already say there's nothing they can do with the stomach flu, so you have two options: you either have an unexcused absence and get in trouble for it, or send them to school and get all the other kids sick," she says.

The policy lists several excuses for absence, such as death in the family and religious holidays, to name a few.

Horry County Schools spokesperson Teal Britton says the goal is to keep kids in school as much as possible, understanding circumstances do come up, and those absences can be discussed with individual school principals. She says in order to see changes in the policy, this would most likely have to be taken to the state level because the Horry County Schools attendance policy falls in state regulation, and that cannot be conflicted.

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