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School: Saying goodbye to deploying parent isn't an excusable absence

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The Pierce family. Source: WBRC video The Pierce family. Source: WBRC video
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COLUMBIANA, AL (WBRC) -

The Pierce family squeezed in last minute quality time on Thursday, Oct. 3.  

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

With barely two days notice, Pierce says her husband was deployed.

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

She says her husband served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Today he works for a military contractor and he's doing security work at a camp just outside of Baghdad. Pierce says her husband will be overseas for at least four months.   

Pierce didn't think it would be a problem if her son missed a day of school to be with his dad before he left. But on Monday morning, she received her request for an unexcused absence. It was denied.

"I was in shock," said Pirece.

This was not the first time Pierce says she's filled out this form and 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.

Pierce went to the Elvin Hill Principal with her concern. She says 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 says her son did make up the work but she's still very worried. Her son may 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.

Warner says Pierce's son's situation is not considered to be a true emergency, and therefore not excusable. Pierce says she hopes the school system will consider changing its policy.

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