Which school systems are -- or aren't -- flexible with taking kids out for cruises?

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#1
Howard County, Maryland
1,384 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Please, I'm hoping this thread does not turn into a debate about the relative merits of taking kids out of school for a cruise. Instead, I'm addressing those who have already done it. I'm curious as to which school systems are flexible about it, and willing to work with you (or at least not make it difficult), and which ones are real hard-noses about it.

I've read accounts from some people who have had all sorts of obstacles thrown in their path, even to the point of being threatened with being hauled into truancy court; while others have reported that their school sent them off with nary a second thought. Is this something that is decided on a state-by-state basis? Or is it truly district by district, or even school by school? (No offense to the Texans here, but a lot of the horror stories I've heard have come out of your state.)

For us, we took our son out of kindergarten for a week, and it was no trouble at all. All we had to do was write a short letter to the principal, copying the teacher, stating the dates we would be absent, and the reason. (I told the truth, that we were going on a cruise.) They approved the absences. The teacher gave us the homework for the week ahead of time, and we made sure that our son completed it and turned it in the day he got back.

I'm curious as to what other people's experiences have been, and if there is any kind of correlation as to which states (or districts) are more flexible than others. (We're in Howard County, Maryland.) Thanks!
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#2
We live on a small lake in rural Nebr.
7,002 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Here in Nebraska I've never heard of anyone being given a hard time when taking kids out of school, or in Montana, where some of my grandchildren are. I do think this is area-specific and also depends on how much other school they have missed. I know some states/school districts are much stricter.

We have taken 7 grandchildren on a cruise, and just notified the schools when they would be gone. Some teachers gave them homework ahead of time, some had them make up work when they got back and one had a child do a project with pictures and writing on their experiences.

As the oldest kids are now in 8th grade, it will get more difficult in high school as a couple of them will be involved in sports, but still doable as we would work around the sport schedules.

As a former teacher, IMO travel is a decision that should be left up to the parents, in most circumstances, and definitely can be very educational and broadening--my grandchildren still talk a lot about their experiences on the last cruise. I'd like to take them again this year, before they all start hitting high school and 15, if we possibly can.
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SciFi
#3
Fredericksburg, va. USA
80,396 Posts
Joined May 2001
They are YOUR kids....no school system should give you a hard time about taking your kids out of school for a family vacation!

Certainly, it's much easier when the kids are in elementary school.....the older they get, the more they miss...but no school system should hassle you for trying to have "family" time.

Of course, this is all based on kids that don't routinely miss school! A student in good standing (and their family) should have no issues at all.
#4
2,750 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Los Angeles/LAUSD has zero official flexibility but there's a possibility of independent study. Last year I took my twins out for 3 days to visit Washington DC where they met with a lobbyist to learn meeting strategies and then they actually had meetings with Congressional staff to talk about an issue - activities I would think qualify as educational, but because it didn't fall into the death/illness category, they could only avoid truancy if their teachers allowed independent study. One did, one didn't. We went anyway, so one of my kids had a record of perfect attendance for last year and one has a truancy on her record (and I received a letter threatening further action if it happens again). I grew up in the same school system and there used to be flexibility, but it's all about $$ now. The private schools allow full flexibility, so it's not a matter of how important it is to be at your desk each day - it's about the public school needing the cash for attendance. I agree with CB that it should be my decision, but legally it's not.

Best,
Mia
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#5
1,890 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Originally posted by cb at sea
They are YOUR kids....no school system should give you a hard time about taking your kids out of school for a family vacation!

Certainly, it's much easier when the kids are in elementary school.....the older they get, the more they miss...but no school system should hassle you for trying to have "family" time.

Of course, this is all based on kids that don't routinely miss school! A student in good standing (and their family) should have no issues at all.
I agree but many states have statutes governing how many hours a child must be in class, etc. I think the only way to get around this is to live in a state that doesn't dictate this (probably not too many), home school, or send the kids to private school. The state does have "jurisdiction" over our children in term of educational requirements once they reach a certain age (some states it's five, some it's six, and so on).
#6
California
1,254 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
My district is very flexible and has to be. We loose a lot of kids whose parents take extended stay in Mexico over the breaks. We have Independent Study, wich allows us to pull study for at least 5 days and complete all the work that MUST be provided by the teacher. We offer Saturday school for kids to make up unexcused absenses and missed work.
#7
Virginia
59 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
We are close to you in Fairfax County. Here, kids can miss up to 15 days of school without much problem. The official statement is that if they are absent more than 15 days they will be removed from the school and you would have to re-register them when you return. Whether that actually happens seems to depend on the principal of the school.
We have not taken the kids out for more than a week.. We are taking a cruise the week of Thanksgiving (they will miss a day and a half that week) and the entire following week.
I will send the teachers a note this week to give them a heads up and ask them to prepare a package of work for them. My kids are in 4th and 2nd grade.

Every school system is different, I think it depends on how they get their funding. I have a friend in CA that had a hard time pulling his son out of school for a few days..
#8
38 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
We are in the UK. The Government have recently introduced legislation that means that headteachers are no longer allowed to authorise absences during term time. In addition to this you will be fined (per child, per parent) and there is a chance of losing your school place but whether these are actually enforced I don't know. However there is a loophole, which we are taking advantage of this year, which is that a child doesn't legally have to be at school until the term after they turn 5.
#9
Idaho
2,567 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by Nebr.cruiser

As a former teacher, IMO travel is a decision that should be left up to the parents, in most circumstances, and definitely can be very educational and broadening--my grandchildren still talk a lot about their experiences on the last cruise. I'd like to take them again this year, before they all start hitting high school and 15, if we possibly can.
AMEN!

When my child is school age we still plan to take vacations. No way will a teacher convince me doing worksheets in class is better than lifetime family memories.
Once he enters middle and high school the decision will probably rest with him. Since missing classes and sports practices can be a detriment to future success.
#10
29 Posts
Joined Sep 2013
Our school district in Missouri can turn you in for truancy if you miss a certain number of days. At the magic number of 10 missed days for any reason, you receive a letter with a bunch of warnings and admonishments about how important school is for your child. The school's social worker also calls for an explanation of why your child has missed school. They will help you make a plan to get your kid in school. This is strictly about $, schools get $ for every child in school on an hourly basis. So missed school means losing funding. Even tardies and doctor appointments can cause the school to loose funding. We are lucky that our district is funded so well that they are very lenient with the absences. I think you will find that other states and/or districts are more stringent based on how well they are funded and how the state distributes funds. So you can see how some schools would be very strict about absences.
#11
Canada
361 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
My parents have never taken me out of school for a cruise or a long vacation since the 3rd grade. But, we have done trips that require 2-3 days off school over a weekend, which there is no problem getting off. You just speak to your teachers ahead of time to get the work (if you're smart, most teachers appreciate the "heads up") and then go on your way. All you have to do then is phone the school office and leave a message saying what day(s) you'll be away from classes so the student is not marked as a skip, but rather an excused absence.
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#12
Florida
2,909 Posts
Joined Apr 2013
I am curious - are private schools subjected to the same scrutiny?
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#13
Toronto
3,516 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by RSLeesburg
I am curious - are private schools subjected to the same scrutiny?
No. The issue seems to be that public schools are paid x amount per student per day. If a student is not at school, the school (or district) doesn't get paid. If 10-15% of students are not present on any given day, because of illness, hooky, vacations, doctors appointments etc., the school gets paid 10-15% less. This can play havoc with budgets.

Private schools get paid no matter whether the student attends or not. In addition, they don't want to offend their "customers" by insisting on excellent attendance.

I live in Canada (now, I used to be a private school teacher in the US). We have no problem taking our kids out for vacation. That having been said, I'm planning to take 3 kids out for an additional 7 school days around the Christmas break for our upcoming cruise. Two of them are in high school. I'm planning to be very apologetic when I email the teachers.
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#14
Florida
2,909 Posts
Joined Apr 2013
Originally posted by boulders
No. The issue seems to be that public schools are paid x amount per student per day. If a student is not at school, the school (or district) doesn't get paid. If 10-15% of students are not present on any given day, because of illness, hooky, vacations, doctors appointments etc., the school gets paid 10-15% less. This can play havoc with budgets.

Private schools get paid no matter whether the student attends or not. In addition, they don't want to offend their "customers" by insisting on excellent attendance.

I live in Canada (now, I used to be a private school teacher in the US). We have no problem taking our kids out for vacation. That having been said, I'm planning to take 3 kids out for an additional 7 school days around the Christmas break for our upcoming cruise. Two of them are in high school. I'm planning to be very apologetic when I email the teachers.
OK. Our son is only 4, so this has not been an issue for us, but I know my wife is looking at sending him to private schools so was wondering if this would be a problem or not. It would be nice to have options to pull him out of school, if needed for a vacation.
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#15
Texas
1,821 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Our son went to private school and was subjected to the same state mandatory attendance law as public school students. For those thinking private schools don't care about such things because "they are getting paid", it was not the case with our son's schools. They absolutely did not tolerate truancy. Taking a child from school for a vacation was simply unthinkable if we wanted our child to keep his slot in those schools. Actually, the handbooks given out at the beginning of the school year informed parents that students could be dismissed for any or no reason. I personally saw children kicked out for behavioral problems.

Also, those who think these private schools don't want to offend the paying customer and won't say anything about attendance or anything else are very wrong. I guess it depends on where you live, but the private schools here have long waiting lists of prospective students who are desperate to get into these schools. They are definitely not hurting for money.

This is just anecdotal, but one rule at my child's schools was that parents were not allowed to bring forgotten items to the school. That included homework, projects, books, coats, lunch...anything. Our son was on the running tab lunch program which we paid for monthly, but not all kids were. Some were on the daily pay or brought their lunches. If they forgot their lunch or money for lunch they received a single peanut butter sandwich (no jelly) and a milk, gratis.

I really want to emphasize to those who think private school students are living on easy street that they are so wrong.
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#16
California
1,254 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by lovesublime
Our son went to private school (where???) and was subjected to the same state mandatory attendance law as public school students. For those thinking private schools don't care about such things because "they are getting paid", it was not the case with our son's schools (which one???) . They absolutely did not tolerate truancy. Taking a child from school for a vacation was simply unthinkable if we wanted our child to keep his slot in those schools (where and which one). Actually, the handbooks given out at the beginning of the school year informed parents that students could be dismissed for any or no reason. I personally saw children kicked out for behavioral problems. (what kind)

Also, those who think these private schools don't want to offend the paying customer and won't say anything about attendance or anything else are very wrong. I guess it depends on where you live, (where do you live?)but the private schools here (where??) have long waiting lists of prospective students who are desperate to get into these schools. They are definitely not hurting for money.

This is just anecdotal, but one rule at my child's schools (where??) was that parents were not allowed to bring forgotten items to the school. That included homework, projects, books, coats, lunch...anything. Our son was on the running tab lunch program which we paid for monthly, but not all kids were. Some were on the daily pay or brought their lunches. If they forgot their lunch or money for lunch they received a single peanut butter sandwich (no jelly) and a milk, gratis.

I really want to emphasize to those who think private school students are living on easy street that they are so wrong. - you are living on paid street, EXPENSIVE
Clap, Clap, Clap

I think the OP was trying to get a sense of what each personal school district policy or specific school system. What STATE/COUNTY and what school district did you child attend school?

In Riverside County CA, and several other counties, kids can miss 15 sick days without a doctors note. Family emergencies used to be excused but now only funerals. Yes, some kids grandparents pass away monthly.

Question - do you need a doctors note for absences and after how many?. My kids are almost never out sick but on the rare occasion a call to the attendance office was all it took.
#17
3,722 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
We are in Wisconsin. For now there is not a state-wide policy on taking your kids out of school, each district has its own policy.

When our DD was in elementary school, at her school we just had to talk to her teacher. In Middle school, she had a form that she needed to bring to each teacher to sign off on. They recorded the work that she would be required to do. Form had to be completed two weeks prior to vacation. Similar form in high school. No big deal.

Have to avoid test periods. That's about it.
#18
Texas
1,821 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Originally posted by Blk_Amish
Clap, Clap, Clap

I think the OP was trying to get a sense of what each personal school district policy or specific school system. What STATE/COUNTY and what school district did you child attend school?

In Riverside County CA, and several other counties, kids can miss 15 sick days without a doctors note. Family emergencies used to be excused but now only funerals. Yes, some kids grandparents pass away monthly.

Question - do you need a doctors note for absences and after how many?. My kids are almost never out sick but on the rare occasion a call to the attendance office was all it took.



Well, I'm not big on giving out much personal info such as my location, but I will say Houston. We now live outside of Houston and I wouldn't send my dogs to school in the Houston Independent School District. That's why our son went to private school. Even after we moved out to a bedroom community, we kept him in his private school. I will say that we live in an excellent school district (not Houston) and most of our son's friends are from the local public schools. Also, the rules, laws and regulations regarding schooling here are not based on individual school districts or counties. These rules are state wide for every school. My son's schools required a phone call reporting an absence. In the public schools, a phone call to the student's parents is likely after a couple of absences in a row. Better have a doctor's note. Fifteen sick days without a note is extremely generous.


I don't want to go on too much about it because I'm sure I'll offend someone, but I seriously doubt that the Houston public schools care if kids show up or not. I'm talking about a district that provides free breakfast, lunch and now dinner. On top of that, they are now sending kids home with backpacks filled with food for the weekends. The district also serves breakfast and lunch during the summer break at parks throughout the city. My BIL is in the Houston Fire Dept. and once or twice a year, firefighters will go and canvass neighborhoods with a list of names and addresses of drop outs. They are offered incentives if they pledge to return to school. My BIL tells us that in his entire nearly thirty year career that he has never had even one kid make the commitment. What does that tell you.


We don't live in Houston proper anymore but our child went to St. Anne and St. Thomas.....both in Houston.
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#19
84,538 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by bus man
Please, I'm hoping this thread does not turn into a debate about the relative merits of taking kids out of school for a cruise. Instead, I'm addressing those who have already done it. I'm curious as to which school systems are flexible about it, and willing to work with you (or at least not make it difficult), and which ones are real hard-noses about it.

I've read accounts from some people who have had all sorts of obstacles thrown in their path, even to the point of being threatened with being hauled into truancy court; while others have reported that their school sent them off with nary a second thought. Is this something that is decided on a state-by-state basis? Or is it truly district by district, or even school by school? (No offense to the Texans here, but a lot of the horror stories I've heard have come out of your state.)

For us, we took our son out of kindergarten for a week, and it was no trouble at all. All we had to do was write a short letter to the principal, copying the teacher, stating the dates we would be absent, and the reason. (I told the truth, that we were going on a cruise.) They approved the absences. The teacher gave us the homework for the week ahead of time, and we made sure that our son completed it and turned it in the day he got back.

I'm curious as to what other people's experiences have been, and if there is any kind of correlation as to which states (or districts) are more flexible than others. (We're in Howard County, Maryland.) Thanks!
Our children are now young adults.

Our experience was that in Kindergarten, it was not an issue to take the child out and even the early years of elementary school where we once did and our older child was given some school work to do and also did a trip report. However, in the upper grades this was not supported and the guidelines did not allow students to be out of school greater than two days without a doctors note. This was true in two areas that we lived in Northern California and in Northern Texas.

Keith