I’m a firm believer that if you are sick you stay home and if your children are sick you keep them home from school. My son now eight years old was born with asthma, eczema and allergies (food & environmental). When he was a baby he seemed to pick up EVERYTHING and it got to the point that I pulled him out of daycare. I worked 1st shift and my husband worked 3rd shift and cared for him during the day. His immune system wasn’t that great and his resistance was low. The doctors kept telling us that he would grow out of it. I dreaded the day he would start school because I had already been through so much with him as a baby. There were many emergency room visits, children’s hospital admissions and countless pediatrician office visits. He was in an early childhood education program and got home schooled twice a week before starting preschool. You would think preschool would have gotten him ready for Kindergarten. Nope!
My child picked up every germ that landed in the classroom. He accumulated many absences “excused” of course and was in jeopardy of flunking kindergarten due to excessive absences. We got through Kindergarten and I thought first grade would be a better year. No. He got the flu twice, numerous colds with upper respiratory infections, tummy bugs, staph infections and all the other germs that kids pass around in school. Now in Kindergarten I took him to the doctor for EVERY little thing, even though the doctors knew he had underlying issues. I did it for the doctor’s note for school! I had been to Truancy Court and explained that my child has a chronic illness with acute symptoms and it causes him to be absent. I don’t send my child to school when he’s sick and miserable. I’m going to be the one to take care of him and nurse him back to good health. No, I don’t trust the school to keep my son comfortable and cater to his needs the way I would when he is ill. The school isn’t a pediatric hospital!
I don’t think the teacher is going to put her ear up to his chest to make sure he isn’t wheezing. Due to the public school system’s budget or lack thereof, there is not an on staff nurse daily. I don’t trust the school’s emergency care plan for my son. It’s just his Albuterol inhaler in the front office where a nurse isn’t even present on a daily basis. If it escalates they will call 911. I know when my son isn’t feeling well and I’m not going to have the school dictate what constitutes as “being sick enough to stay home!” At the end of Kindergarten his doctor wrote a blanket note that basically said… This child has XYZ please expect absences until we get this under control.” Now, in my mind that should have covered me for the year and I would stop wasting my time and the doctor’s time at doctor’s visits when we already knew the issue(s). My son had a better year (fewer absences) in first grade but, he still had absences when he was sick. I didn’t write a note for every absence. I can own up to that, it’s my responsibility to notify the school.
I also had two health issues of my own which caused absences. I sent in notes regarding those absences but we still ended up in truancy court. At this point I’m frustrated because now the school system and the Principle are trying to make me seem like an unfit parent that is doing a disservice to her child by keeping him home when he’s ill. I’ve had the Principal say that… “You are hurting your child; he needs to be in school. He’s missing important work and he’s getting behind” etc. I don’t think my kid would even be paying attention if I sent him to school ill. I’ve also had the school nurse of the day, tell me that she knows my child wasn’t sick all those times I kept him home from school, and then tried to compare her kids and situation to mine. No Ma’am! You are not going to compare yourself to me or my child. I’m NOT here for it. Don’t judge me unjustly! Parent how you would like to and don’t cookie cut my lifestyle and put me in a category of where you think I should fit in. How presumptuous to even have those words leave your mouth!
You should be glad that even though my child seems to pick up every little germ brought into his classroom that I would keep him away from the general population and try to stop it from affecting other people’s children. I also don’t want him getting ill any further. Maybe if you would have sent sick children home in the first place I wouldn’t be dealing with this. My life is tailored around my children. I am a Full Time working mom. When I was working in an office from 9-5 pm and my son got sick, I called out! I now work from home with a more flexible schedule and it allows me to still get my job done while caring for my son if he needs to be home. Having a son that was born with illnesses definitely can be a challenge and unfortunate but, I’m his mom and he’s my responsibility. I’m going to deal with it. My son was retained last year due to excessive absences caused by his illnesses along with times when I was ill and unable to take him to school.
I’ve been told by the principal that if it were up to her she would retain him again but, it’s against the law or policy to retain a child two years in a row. You know what… AND to add to all of this I really don’t give two hoots about standardized testing and bench marks. I’m so over the quotas that need to be met and kids just being taught to be able to pass their EOG’s. I’m two seconds away from home schooling my child, finding a home schooling co-op or small charter school. I understand that my child’s absences are affecting your average daily membership and on an annual basis that can affect the amount of funds DPS (Durham Public Schools) receives per student. However instead of focusing on my child in elementary school who is actually sick, administration can spend their time and effort on children who are cutting school and in jeopardy of not graduating instead of my child that has legitimate reasons for his absences. I have been to Truancy about 5 or 6 different times this school year.
I have complied with the best of my ability and event wrote notes for previous absences that I hadn’t in the past. My son has been to school when he is HEALTHY. That wasn’t enough for the principal so she petitioned me to appear in front of the judge for failing to comply with attendance rules. The fact that these administrators are so narrow minded, stereotypical and discriminatory make me sick. The fact that I have complied with all that was asked of me and it still wasn’t enough is making me think it’s personal. I have documentation from both our health care providers that explain our situations. Just to be clear… Failing to comply with school attendance rules, including excessive tardiness or early pick-ups, can result in a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and neglect. It is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 120 days in prison and a $500 fine. I truly believe the administration is abusing their authority to implement NC G.S. 115-378 North Carolina Compulsory Attendance Law.
The law clearly states what is excused vs. unexcused with sickness and injury being on the list of excused absences but they still choose to take this course of action. So, if you were in my position, what would you do? I know Truancy Laws differ by state. How are your Truancy Laws and do you send your child to school when they are ill?