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AB-1838 Pupil attendance: excused absences: behavioral health.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 01/06/2020 09:00 PM


Assembly Bill
No. 1838

Introduced by Assembly Member Chu

January 06, 2020

An act to amend Section 48205 of the Education Code, relating to pupil attendance.


AB 1838, as introduced, Chu. Pupil attendance: excused absences: behavioral health.
Existing law, notwithstanding the requirement that each person between 6 and 18 years of age who is not otherwise exempted is subject to compulsory full-time education, requires a pupil to be excused from school for specified types of absences, including, among others, if the absence was due to the pupil’s illness or if the absence was for the purpose of having medical, dental, optometrical, or chiropractic services rendered.
This bill would include as another type of required excused absence an absence that is due to the behavioral health of the pupil or for the purposes of having behavioral health services rendered. To the extent that this bill would impose additional duties on local educational entities, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) According to the California Children’s Hospital Association, as many as 1,800,000 children in California live with a behavioral health condition.
(b) Fifty-seven percent of children in California have experienced trauma, making them more likely to develop mental health conditions.
(c) Early intervention and prevention of mental health conditions are critical to the behavioral and physical health of Californians.
(d) Deaths from suicide among children younger than 17 years of age grew to 84 percent in the last decade and increased by 231 percent for girls 10 to 14 years of age, inclusive.
(e) Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children 10 to 14 years of age, inclusive, and the second leading cause of death for those 15 to 24 years of age, inclusive.
(f) Ninety percent of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.
(g) Over 70 percent of children with mental health needs never receive treatment, and this number climbs to 80 percent for children in poverty or who have non-English-speaking parents.
(h) Untreated and unrecognized behavioral health issues in pupils can lead to absenteeism, suspensions, declines in academic performance, and dropping out of school at an early age.
(i) Barriers to mental health access for children include those relating to transportation, cost, insurance coverage, language access, and stigma.
(j) In 2018, the Governor of Utah signed a bill to allow pupils to take a mental health day like they would a sick day, allowing pupils to use their mental health as a legitimate reason for an excused absence.
(k) In 2019, the Governor of Oregon signed a similar bill to allow mental health days for pupils to be counted as excused absences. The bill was first introduced by a group of local high school pupils who were inspired to change the stigma around mental health.

SEC. 2.

 Section 48205 of the Education Code is amended to read:

 (a) Notwithstanding Section 48200, a pupil shall be excused from school when the absence is:
(1) Due to the pupil’s illness. illness, including the pupil’s behavioral health.
(2) Due to quarantine under the direction of a county or city health officer.
(3) For the purpose of having medical, dental, optometrical, or chiropractic chiropractic, or behavioral health services rendered.
(4) For the purpose of attending the funeral services of a member of the pupil’s immediate family, so long as the absence is not more than one day if the service is conducted in California and not more than three days if the service is conducted outside California.
(5) For the purpose of jury duty in the manner provided for by law.
(6) Due to the illness or medical appointment during school hours of a child of whom the pupil is the custodial parent, including absences to care for a sick child for which the school shall not require a note from a doctor.
(7) For justifiable personal reasons, including, but not limited to, an appearance in court, attendance at a funeral service, observance of a holiday or ceremony of the pupil’s religion, attendance at religious retreats, attendance at an employment conference, or attendance at an educational conference on the legislative or judicial process offered by a nonprofit organization when the pupil’s absence is requested in writing by the parent or guardian and approved by the principal or a designated representative pursuant to uniform standards established by the governing board. board of the school district.
(8) For the purpose of serving as a member of a precinct board for an election pursuant to Section 12302 of the Elections Code.
(9) For the purpose of spending time with a member of the pupil’s immediate family who is an active duty member of the uniformed services, as defined in Section 49701, and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from, deployment to a combat zone or combat support position. Absences granted pursuant to this paragraph shall be granted for a period of time to be determined at the discretion of the superintendent of the school district.
(10) For the purpose of attending the pupil’s naturalization ceremony to become a United States citizen.
(11)  Authorized at the discretion of a school administrator, as described in subdivision (c) of Section 48260.
(b) A pupil absent from school under this section shall be allowed to complete all assignments and tests missed during the absence that can be reasonably provided and, upon satisfactory completion within a reasonable period of time, shall be given full credit therefor. The teacher of the class from which a pupil is absent shall determine which tests and assignments shall be reasonably equivalent to, but not necessarily identical to, the tests and assignments that the pupil missed during the absence.
(c) For purposes of this section, attendance at religious retreats shall not exceed four hours per semester.
(d) Absences pursuant to this section are deemed to be absences in computing average daily attendance and shall not generate state apportionment payments.
(e) “Immediate family,” as used in this section, means the parent or guardian, brother or sister, grandparent, or any other relative living in the household of the pupil.

SEC. 3.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.