Politics & Government

NC lawmakers aim to help students spend more time with parents who are in US military

North Carolina lawmakers could make it easier for children to miss school to spend time with their parents who are on active duty in the U.S. military.

Senate Bill 230 would require the State Board of Education to draft rules so that students would get at least two excused absences each school year to spend time with parents who are U.S military members who are called to duty or who are on leave from or returning from deployment to a combat zone.

The legislation was unanimously passed by the Senate. It’s making its way through the House, where it was backed last week by the House Education Committee.

“I’m sure all of us have seen videos where a veteran comes in and surprises their child,” Sen. Don Davis, a Pitt County Democrat and a primary sponsor of the bill, said at last week’s House Education Committee meeting. “Well, if this is passed they wouldn’t only allow the parent to come and surprise their child but to spend a little bit more time with him or her before going or coming back from a combat zone.”

Students and their parents can get in trouble under North Carolina law and local school district policies if they have too many unexcused absences.

Concern about missing school helped lead in April to the House passing a bill that would make it an excused absence for students to attend a legislative event or visit the General Assembly. House Bill 151 is sitting in the Senate Rule Committee.

Davis noted the large number of North Carolinians who are serving in the military.

“We must always remember that those who serve our country have a unique job that also takes them at times into war,” he said.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.