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My high school has an attendance policy in place where you are allowed to miss 6 periods of class with a medical certificate and six without. They claim that after you miss these combined 12 periods they will fail you for that subject.

My question is, are they legally allowed to fail year 12 students due to their attendance? The school isn’t super specific with what they mean by fail, but are they allowed to force us to drop out of year 12? Or not allow us to do our exams or SACs etc.

  • Public or private? What state or territory? – Nij Feb 4 '18 at 1:48
  • Public school, in Victoria. – 高校生 Feb 4 '18 at 3:29
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    You should definitely be talking to your student representative, your pastoral support teacher, your parents, and your dean. Victoria happens to be the guidelines I checked first and they (like presumably all of Australia) are very big on obliging educators to take positive action to support the learning. – Nij Feb 4 '18 at 3:34
  • Thankfully, I’m not in this position, however there may be a period further in the year when I have important study to do for entrance into further study and I have been advised to focus on that instead of school for a period up until the exam and was wondering if the school had any legal ability to actually fail students due to their attendance. – 高校生 Feb 4 '18 at 10:33
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It is possible this policy does not adhere to the guidelines on managing non-attendance set out by the Victoria State Government's Department of Education and Training. A total of 13 missed classes in a subject equates to less than a tenth of the typical year, and in the absence of exception for greater medical absences, may also go against the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority's Special Provision policy. Given the way that VCE units are structured, an automatic non-satisfactory grade for 13 periods of absence is likely to impact certain demographics much more than others, and that school administrators are sure to know this, it may be in violation of anti-discrimination laws as well.

This issue should immediately be raised with the pastoral support staff (pastoral or "home room" teacher, deans, guidance or health support), and with the school council student representative (if there is one), and with the student's parents or caregivers. If it does not already, the school policy should be clear on the manner in which it complies with the broader policy and guidelines of the DET, VCAA, and any regulations that further apply.

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Usually, educational institutions are allowed to set criteria for passing an educational requirement and courts are loathe to interfere with that unless there is some regulation to the contrary from a higher educational institution. There is no obvious reason why they couldn't fail you for failure to attend based upon a requirement clearly stated in advance. Often exceptions can be agreed to with the institution for special circumstances, but you would be wise to assume that they are within their rights.

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    A student missing 13 periods in a year still has greater than 90% attendance, and Victoria is extremely clear that schools must do what they can do, to support students to participate in education. This kind of policy may be acceptable in the USA where a board has free reign on every aspect of the school, but it is absolutely unethical and almost certain to be illegal in Australia. – Nij Feb 5 '18 at 21:56
  • @Nij The fact that you support students doesn't mean that somebody can't set standards. And, presumably, flunking one year does not mean that you would never be able to complete the year, just that you might have to, for example, take a make up class later before you could complete it. If there is a policy that contradicts it, identify it. – ohwilleke Feb 6 '18 at 6:26
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    I think you have a fundamental lack of knowledge of how schools in Australasia work, and possibly a warped sense of what support the student to participate in education means (being failed for just 4% unexplained attendance is unthinkably poor management in a high school)(even without the obligation to re-engage and positively act for the student benefit wherever possible). DET guidelines would be a good place to start reading. – Nij Feb 6 '18 at 7:26

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