2021 Bills

HB 116: Excused Absence Without a Doctor’s Note

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker. Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it aligns with our principles and should therefore be passed into law.

Three years ago, we advocated for a change to the law that would allow parents to excuse their children from government schools for mental illness. Prior to that time, state law referred to “illness,” but did not specify what type—and many school districts interpreted this as referring only to physical health.

Over the years, we have met with many families where students experiencing mental health crises were also subjected to punitive truancy proceedings for failure to attend their classes, adding to their troubles and complicating their recovery. This legal reform was a welcome change.

However, some schools require parents to have a doctor’s note before excusing the child pursuant to state law. Thus, parents are prohibited from attesting to the health status of their child and must pay money to get a permission slip from a doctor before the school will excuse the absence, despite state law not requiring this step.

Representative Adam Robertson is sponsoring House Bill 116 to clarify in state law that a doctor’s note is not required for a parent to excuse their child from school due to an illness.

This bill helps protect parental rights, as schools should be subordinate to and supportive of the parents as they help educate and care for their children. Allowing parents to excuse their children from school for a valid absence should not require them to pay a medical professional to validate their decision.