ROCKVILLE, MD — The Montgomery County Board of Education may give students excused absences for taking mental health days.
The school board on Tuesday passed a resolution that would let the Policy Management Committee examine whether students could cite mental health as an excused absence.
“I know mental health is an issue that a lot of students care about, and it’s something that’s always been at the forefront,” student member Nick Asante, who introduced the resolution,said during meeting. “But I think now more so than ever it’s a big concern for a lot of students.”
Asante’s resolution does not change Montgomery County Public Schools’ attendance policy, but asks that absences related to anxiety and stress be considered.
The board voted in favor of the resolution, 7-1. Vice President Brenda Wolff cast the lone dissenting vote.
She said the resolution would be “busy work” for the policy committee, adding that parents can already get an excused absence for their child if they call the school and say the student is sick.
“I don’t mean to be insensitive in any shape or form, but it seems like busy work for the policy committee because, as a parent, I can write in and say this already,” Wolff said. “I also have to wonder if the disability community will take exception to students having to identify mental illness as a reason for being out ill.”
Asante explained that this resolution is not necessarily related to diagnosed mental illness, but rather students’ self care. He also said that having such a policy is “a statement piece” that would “mean a lot to a lot of students.”
The Policy Management Committee will review Asante’s resolution and make recommendations to the school board by January 2021.