Excused absences may be on the way for Montgomery Co. students who attend protests

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County high school students who miss class to attend organized protests or other civic activities during the school day are one step closer to having such absences excused.

It’s not a done deal, but Montgomery County Public Schools’ board members voted unanimously for preliminary approval of the proposed policy change at their meeting on Sept. 11.

If the proposed policy changes get final approval, public school students in the county would get up to three excused absences per academic year for civic engagement.

The school board’s Policy Management Committee proposed this revision after county students took part in walkouts in the weeks following February’s deadly mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

In order to claim any of the allotted absence days, students would need a triad of permission to participate in an event from a parent, the sponsoring organization and from the principal or someone appointed by the principal.

“It’s important to note that this policy is to maintain an orderly running of this school system to enable students to participate with parent permission and notification to the principal,” Patrice O’Neill, Montgomery School Board member and chair of school board’s Policy Management Committee, said during the meeting.

“This amendment is such a movement in the right direction,” added student board member Ananya Tadikonda. “I feel that it’s so important that we teach kids about civic engagement every day, especially in today’s day and age when it’s so important to everything that goes on around us.”

The board will take another look at the policy after a 30 day public comment period.

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