Shelby County School: Students Sending Off Deployed Parents Not Excused Absence

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COLUMBIANA, Ala. - The Pierce family was forced to say some hasty goodbyes and spend a last bit of quality time together on Thursday, October 3.  The family had just received news that one of their own would be deployed to Baghdad the very next day.

"[My husband] got the email on Wednesday that he was leaving at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, "explained Angela Pierce.

Within two days, Angela Pierce’s husband was deployed.

"He's in Iraq. The red zone, which is like the war zone," added Pierce.

Her husband, a former U.S. Marine, today works for a military contractor doing security work at a camp just outside of Baghdad.  Pierce says her husband will be gone for at least four months.

She requested an excused absence for her son to miss a day of school to be with his dad before he left.  But, on Monday, Angela Pierce discovered that her request for an excused absence was denied.

"I was in shock," said Pierce.

According to Pierce, this is not the first time she has requested an excused absence for the very same circumstance.

"I had gone through the process of filling out the forms and turning it in.  It was approved last year, so to me it felt like it was no question that point," Pierce said.

Angela Pierce went to her son’s principal at Elvin Hill with her concern over the unexcused absence. The principal told her the school is trying to be more consistent with the attendance policy. Cindy Warner, the Shelby County Schools System Public Relations Supervisor, says it's a district-wide effort and the principal did make an important exception for Pierce's son.

"She did not excuse the absence, but she did give an opportunity to make up all of the work the he would have missed that day," explained Warner.

Pierce said even though her son did make up the work, she is still very worried. Her family may wind up in the same situation in the future, forcing her son to have to send off his dad again sometime this school year.

"He's got to miss three times this year probably, and after the fifth, they start taking you to court," she said.

Because the Pierce’s situation is not considered to be a true emergency by the school, it is not excusable, according to Warner.

Angela Pierce says she hopes the school system will consider changing its policy.

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