The Georgia Board of Education voted Thursday to ease restrictions on what constitutes an allowable student absence.
In addition to existing reasons for an approved absence, such as illness, a court order or a religious holiday, the board added a broad exemption that leaves it up to local school boards to decide when students can legitimately skip. One example offered at a state board meeting this week: a student is chronically absent while training to compete in the Olympics; the local district could rule that absence excused.
The new rule allows “any other absence not explicitly defined herein but deemed by the local school board of education to have merit based on circumstances.”
Georgia’s accountability system scores schools on attendance rates, so local officials have an incentive to reduce unexcused absences.