Dear Addy: Excused School Absence

Dear Addy,
My child wants to attend our state’s Advocacy Day, but she has a limited number of excused absences. I want her to learn how to advocate for herself and the bleeding disorders community, as well as to see democracy in action. Can you offer guidance for working with her school to allow the absence without a penalty?
Education in Action

Dear Action,
School districts across the U.S. have different attendance rules and requirements that vary depending on several factors, including policies set by state and local officials. If your child’s school has a policy against missing class for non-school activities, but believe that your child’s participation in an advocacy day with your bleeding disorders organization would be a valuable experience for her, the following ideas may assist you in working with the school to allow flexibility in your child’s attendance without penalty:

  • If your child has a 504 plan or is part of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), use your scheduled meetings with school staff as an opportunity to educate them on the importance of political advocacy and what it means to the bleeding disorders community. Share information on living with a bleeding disorder, specific issues you’ll discuss during your day at the Capitol, as well as ways to apply the experience within the classroom setting. As a follow-up to the day, your child could present to her class as part of a school project. HFA’s Legislative Day Toolkit has several resources for preparing for an advocacy day that may be useful in your conversation with the school.
  • If your child does not have a 504 plan or IEP, don’t fret! Try to set up a meeting with school administrators, including your child’s teacher, nurse, guidance counselor, principal, and/or assistant principal to discuss the information mentioned above.
  • HFA or your local bleeding disorders organization may also be able to write a letter to school administrators with information on the advocacy day, including learning objectives. Reach out to HFA’s Policy and Advocacy Team or the contact for the advocacy day for more information.

While these suggestions may not lead to your desired result, this is still a great opportunity for you and your child to educate the school about your child’s disorder, and could well help others learn more about bleeding disorders and advocacy. Remember you can be an advocate anywhere, at your state Capitol, in the classroom, and elsewhere!
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HFA frequently receives questions from the bleeding disorders community related to advocacy issues. The questions often impact the entire community. In an effort to reach the largest audience possible with our responses to these widely applicable questions, HFA developed “Dear Addy.” Questions submitted to this column are edited in order to protect privacy and should be considered educational only, not individual guidance.