2022

LEGISLATE VIRTUAL CONGRESS

IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

April 14, 2022

AN ACT

An Act to Include Mental Health Days as Excused Absences for Students

Introduced By:

Date Introduced:

Referred to:

Arianna Li

April 14, 2022, 6:29:26 PM

This act adds mental health days to the reasons for excused absences in school without the risk of penalty or punishment, to improve the mental health of students and well-being.

BE IT ENACTED BY LEGISLATE SENATORS VIRTUALLY ASSEMBLED THAT

Glossary of Terms:

“Absences” - any missed day of school by a student for the reason of sickness, etc.

“Excused” - to be released of the duty of attending school without the risk of punishment or faults

“Punishment” - the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense, including demerits, detentions, suspensions, grade reductions, privileges revoked, etc.

“Marking Period” - represents a segment of the academic year that is isolated by a specific date range for the purpose of reporting term grades

“Doctor” - a medical professional working in either physical or mental health

“Mental health day” - a day that a student takes off from school to relieve stress, renew vitality, reset their nervous system and get out of fight-or-flight mode

“Reasonable Date” - a reasonable date would be at least one extra school day to complete missed school work, to every mental health day taken (i.e taken 2 consecutive mental health days - student would receive 2 additional school days to make up the missed classwork and assignments)

“All schools” - includes public, private, and charter schools.

“Nagging” - constantly harassing or interrogating a student to seek medical or psychiatric intervention when they choose not to do so, teachers making comments of a students mental well-being

  1. All schools must include mental health days in the reasons for excused absences.
  2. Students may take up to 3 mental health days per each marking period.
    1. The 3 mental health days do not carry over to the next marking period (i.e, if a student does not use their allotted days in marking period 1, those 3 days are voided and not carried over to marking period 2).
    2. Students may use their mental health days consecutively (i.e Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
  3. A parent or guardian must approve each mental health day and the guardian must inform a school faculty member.
    1. If a pattern is noticed by a teacher that a student is continuously absent on testing days or more than a month in advance planned assignments, a meeting will be required by the teacher, counselor, guardian(s), student, and the administration to discuss the situation, and to ensure that the student is not abusing the mental health day privilege
      1. If the school admin finds probable cause they may take away the student’s next marking periods 3 mental health days, and deny excusing future mental health days taken on testing days.
      2. If the primary guardian denies the mental health day, the student will have to make an appeal to a teacher or another trusted adult (a family member: aunt, uncle, neighbor, friend, etc.) and have them write a note.
  4. More days can be requested with a written note from a doctor
    1. If a student does not have access to a doctor, a note from a parent, school counselor, or other administrator is also acceptable.
  5. Students will still be responsible to make up all work occurring during the day missed due by a reasonable date agreed upon with the teacher.
    1. “Reasonable date” is included in the definitions above.
    2. The teacher must be liable to communicate with the student and provide proper assistance and guidance to ensure that the student is not left behind and is able to make up the material.
  6. Students are not liable for explaining why a mental health day is taken and the status of taking a mental health day will remain anonymous to the people the student chooses to tell (i.e a student does not need to explain to a teacher that they are taking a mental health day) students will need to inform the office or attendance officer of the mental health day.
    1. Students shall be protected from nagging of school counselors or other teachers as to why they are taking a mental health day - the student is not required to disclose any information.
      1. This is to prevent any negative perceptions that would affect the outlook of a student to an administrator, counselor, etc.
      2. Schools may present them with the option to talk to someone, but when denied the school needs to step down

Punishments:

  1. If schools do not agree to add 3 mental health days per marking period as an excused absence, the admin or school board, or any teacher, faculty of the school, who denied the excused absence, will each individually be fined up to $900 per student case - $100 per denied mental health day.
  2. If a school is found to have negative or denied interventions, “nagging” (as defined above) for a student who has taken a mental health day, the faculty involved will each be fined $100 per day from when it started, to when it is finally ended.
  3. If a teacher is found to not communicate or willing to assist the student on the materials missed, the teacher will be fined $80 per assignment.

Enforcement:

No funds are required for the implementation of this legislation.

Enactment:

An Act to Include Mental Health Days as Excused Absences for Students

will go into effect on

April 11, 2022, 4:00:00 AM

This bill will go into effect upon the next school year in August 2022.

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