Few choose option to excuse own absences at 18

November 20, 2008 — by Shannon Galvin and Vijay Menon

Forget playing it sick like Ferris Bueller when you want a day off—when students turn 18 in California schools, they are allowed to excuse their own absences. Under state law, students aged 18 and older have the option to assume all of the responsibilities and powers that are normally charged to the parent as a minor.

But don’t go rushing to the office to apply to clear your own absences yet—the exception has its drawbacks. To be able to sign off their own absences, the student must retrieve a form to be signed by a parent permitting them to do so. Both the student and parent must agree.

Said assistant principal Joe Bosco, “You can turn 18 and want to do this, but if your parent says no, that’s it.”

The students are then considered adults as far as the attendance rules apply. They are held up to the same standards as a working adult, which accounts for only five absences a semester. If a student misses over five classes a semester, they face disciplinary action such as a suspension or Saturday School. Also, no distinction is made between excused and unexcused absences within those allowed five absences per semester. The exception actually grants students fewer missed classes than they would have as a minor.

Bosco said that in his two and a half years at Saratoga, not one student has chosen the option to be viewed as an adult for attendance.

“There’s really no benefit,” said Bosco. “It’s just an option that you’re granted when you turn 18. I think the main reason to opt for this would be if you are not living at home anymore.”

Most students seem to agree there is little point to choosing that option at Saratoga.

“When I’m a senior,” said sophomore Mikaela Burton, “I definitely won’t go through the trouble of getting the adult privilege. It limits your absences, which is a bad thing if you get sick. It’s also easier if your parents are just the ones to call in, because I’d probably forget.”

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