Teacher Absent from School

Updated on December 05, 2012
A.S. asks from Dallas, TX
24 answers

What do you feel is an acceptable amount of time a teacher should be away from her class during the school year? Baring that there are occasional training sessions during the school year or conferences that they have to have a substitue for and they are human and around kids so illnesses definitely play a huge role in the number of acceptable abscenses I feel that the acceptable amount of time a teacher is absent should be the same as a student. The school district that my oldest attends frowns upon 10 or more abscences from school. They require no more than 10 unexcused abscences. I'm not sure but I think any combination of abscences over 20 and it is considered truancy. So I guess that I would understand if a teacher had to be absent 10 times.

I know teachers have premade lesson plans ahead of time and that the substitute is supposed to follow those but these teachers often do not know the kids or how they learn like their full time teacher so how is the an optimal learning environment for these kids. I've been considering this because over the last 3 weeks whenever I ask my 1st grader what she did at school about 4 times she has mentioned that she had a substitue. And about 1 month ago the teacher missed 3 days because she had the flu and she missed 2 days at the beginning of the school year due to a conference she attended. What do you think?

I have been primarily worried about reading comprehension with my daughter and according to the parent teacher conference in October she was borderline meeting her benchmarks in that area so we've started working with her and I've contacted the teacher regarding this and have heard nothing back. I ask about their reading groups, which we were told were three times a week, and my daughter has said more often than not that they had a substitue so they didn't do reading groups today. I know this may be in part to my daughter's interpretation but I'm at a loss since the teacher hasn't contacted me back regarding this either. I really like her teacher and I don't want to cause trouble. I'm just trying to be a concious parent.

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So What Happened?

I think I misrepresented my tone with the and I apologize. I do not think my child's teacher has been absent excessively. I have contacted her twice regarding my child's reading with no answer. I understand also that my child my be interpreting a hour long assistant as a substitute. No, I don't want the teacher to come to school sick. My daughter is 6 and I have her in tutoring and have been helping her at home with reading comprehension. I'm not blaming the teacher being absent for my daughter's trouble reading. I was just wondering what you felt was a reasonable amount of time for the teacher to be absent. I disregard stuff like maternity leave because they can plan for long term substitutes. I am mainly talking about a new substitute teacher taking over the class for the whole day once or twice every week. I don't know if that is truly happening but it is the way my daughter is presenting it. And as of yesterday I have contacted the teacher three times (2 email, 1 call) without contact back.

Featured Answers



answers from Appleton on

Since you do not know what is going on, you need to back off a little. This teacher understands that she has a responsibility to her students. But .... she may have been recently diagonsed with a severe illness such as cancer. She may have an elderly family member who is very sick or dying, she may have a sick child or going through a divorce.
I would email or call her and ask for a meeting. When you are face to face ask her if anything is wrong and if you can do anything to help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

At 6 she may not successfully read for another year. Not all kids read in kindergarten or even 1st grade. Some of them click in 2nd grade and then they read well above their grade level.

I think if she is doing so much of her school work at home, outside of the school, then there is no way the school's absent teacher or presence of a substitute is going to have any effect whatsoever. She is doing her school work at home it sounds like....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

My daughter in elementary had a teacher that was on the board for vairous school functions and once out of the classroom once a week atleast. It became an issue. continuality is important I'd switch her class.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

I think the teacher had the flu and stayed home so that the kids didn't get it.
Sometimes my kids have "substitutes" while the teacher is in the building. She is testing the students, one by one, on their math skills or their reading skills. It's easier to get a good idea of how each kid is doing if the teacher can talk to them individually.
We are not supposed to get more than 10 unexcused absents either, but being sick is excused!
So, your kid's teacher got the flu and stayed home for 3 days. Thanks goodness! Would you have WANTED her their puking, with a fever, and the runs? Probably not. Then she missed two at the beginning of the year to go to conferences, probably to learn how to teach better.
Give this woman a break

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Keep in mind that some of those conferences and meetings are only half day, so the teacher only misses either the morning or afternoon in the classroom.
Beyond that, I think as long as my children were hitting their benchmarks and goals, on track, happy, learning and growing, then I would be satisfied.
If your daughter is struggling and falling behind, and you feel it's because of excessive teacher absences, then by all means schedule a meeting with the principal where you can voice your concerns.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

This teacher's absences are nowhere near irresponsible at this point. And missing school for any kind of professional development is not the same as an "absence" and is excused. Expect more professional development days off for your teacher. These are a GOOD thing for your child in the long run.

Remember that young kids often say they "had a substitute" when the sub was in the room for one hour out of the whole day while the teacher met with someone there in the school, or kids say they "didn't do reading groups today" when the kids actually were given a different, but equally valid, reading assignment that wasn't the usual "group" structure. Not that your kid is fibbing -- no-- but when you ask about reading groups or substitutes she is going to answer you according to her own interpretations.

I think you are jumping on the idea of teacher absences because you're worried about your child's reading issues and are grasping at the teacher's supposed absence as a reason for your child's not getting something you think she needs.

Treat the reading issues and the work on that separately from any concerns about teacher absence. You are risking alienating this teacher if you pursue her with questions about her personal absences, especially since you already seem to know exactly why she was out on the five days she's been out so far this year -- what else could you really get from meeting with her to ask about her absences? You already know it was flu and a conference. Pursuing this would, frankly, look like you're prying and/or hounding her about what is actually a totally normal level of absence for totally normal reasons.

Please work on the reading issues without bringing a mere five days of absence into this. Your focus is in the wrong place. If the school has a reading specialist (who is not the teacher), meet with that person about what you can be doing at home to help your child. Yes, it would be good to clarify with the teacher what's going on re: reading groups and what your child says about them, but be open to the idea that the kids are not always going to learn reading just in reading groups.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

If the teacher was attending a professional development conference then it wouldn't be considered missing work. It is part of the job. A teacher would have to answer to the administration regarding time missed from work. They should have sick days available to them as well as short-term and long-term disability. Ideally, teachers would never have to take a sick day or time off for any reason, but like you said, they are human and susceptable to illness and injury just like the rest of us. If a teacher misses three days because of the flu, that would probably be an excused absence. I don't imagine teachers are allowed any unexcused absences. I've known a teacher who had to go on disability because she was put on bed rest for the last couple months of her pregnancy, I've known a teacher who missed many days due to chemo treatments, another teacher who missed often due to a back injury. Also, my kids will often have a substitute for half a day, or one or two periods in a day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My two kids are teens and I work as a teaching assistant in an elementary school. It has shocked me over the years to realize how much time teachers spend away from their classrooms.
You can't do anything to make trouble. You simply cannot do anything about a teacher's absences. If she is absent excessively - over the amount of sick or personal days allowed by her district, she will face disciplinary action by the administration, parents play no role in that. Your teacher can take off whatever time is allowed by her district. In ours, we get 17 sick days and 3 personal days a year! Going to conferences or training isn't absent. Teachers (and TAs with a certification) must get a certain amount of continuing education hours. When the school district decides to implement a new math or ELA or science curriculum, the teachers must go to trainings. When they have to attend IEP meetings, 504 meetings, etc for their students, that's time away from the class too.
Your daughter is very young and may not understand what is going on. The teacher may have been at a meeting for an hour. A teaching assistant may have been covering in the class. The teacher may use a term other than "reading groups" with the kids or your daughter might not consider some of the stations done in reading groups, like sight words, PAF, etc to be "reading."
If you are very concerned about your daughter's performance, please call the teacher and request a meeting. The teacher's attendance should not come up during the meeting. Acceptable/excessive absence is determined by the administration of the school district and typically laid out in the teacher's contract, per their union.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

What is "acceptable?" Whatever the teacher and the school have agreed upon, and whatever the teacher has earned per the contract with the school. Whatever she has to do as part of her job that requires her to be in another area of the building such as meetings and training sessions.

Sometimes teachers can't respond back immediately. She should contact you back within 24 hours. If she doesn't, then initiate contact again. But I wouldn't blame the teacher for your daughter's reading comprehension.

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answers from New York on

I understand what you're saying. I may get scolded but teachers get way more vacation than other jobs, winter, spring etc breaks, so I get annoyed too when a teacher seems to be out. I often don't take a day off work for a month so why shouldn't that apply to teachers too?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Don't get me started. The amount of time teachers are absent (for the endless number of reasons) is absolutely ridiculous. I don't understand why school districts can't realize the importance of consistancy.

Anyway, if you haven't heard back from the teacher be persistant. Contact her again. It's possible she didn't get your note or just forgot. If possible schedule a conference, making sure she can spend at least 20 minutes with you.

Also, be sure to read with your child every day. When reading ask those wonderful questions, "what do you think will happen next", "why to you think....", "this book reminds me of when we....".

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Wow....I can't believe the question, and while I've only read a few of the answers, my mind is a bit blown at some of the negativity.
The best answer is that teachers can take as many days as their contract allows. They have district days and state days. The state days are able to roll over.

Hubby's a teacher and coach, and he works long days. If you figure up the time at school, on the field, and grading papers at home - he makes way less than minimum wage. He's getting paid less per hour than your babysitter. Think about it. He puts up with alot, but at the end of the day he always wants what's best for your child and spends the time to make that happen. Think about it people.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I was going to write the exact same thing as the below poster, about being a regular sub in one building. I, too, could work in my kids' school every single day if I wanted to. I know A LOT of the kids by name, and I know all of the routines. Hopefully your school has subs that are in there all the time too. Of course it's not ideal for your child's teacher to be out. Wouldn't it be great if the teacher was there all 180 days? It's just not going to happen. Before I had my kids I taught high school English. Trust me, I DID NOT want to be out of that classroom! Having a sub was a lot of work - making the plans, etc. I only missed class if I absolutely had to. I imagine most teachers feel this way.

What I would be concerned about it the lack of response to your calls and emails. Whenever I email my kids' teachers I always hear back in less than 24 hours. Maybe worry more about that issue.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Well, didn't read all the responses, but I can tell you we were in this boat with my oldest in K. The teacher really was out one or two days a week. It was extremely troubling that when she did finally leave the teacher who took over handed me three workbooks with various lesson goals that the children were supposed to accomplish and the books had barely been cracked!

I have sympathy. She was a great gal and who knows what she was dealing with on a personal level, but you should be concerned and as a parent for the overall learning environment of your child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

The teacher does need to contact you if you requested it, so I would try to set up a meeting so you can discuss your child's reading. As for how often she is gone, if there is a qualified sub it is none of your business how often she is out. by your thinking teachers should not be allowed maternity leave or anything like that because that would be too many days. If your child is having trouble in reading step up and start helping her rather then blaming the teacher for being sick or having a life that sometimes takes them away from the school. The reason kids have a limit to how much they can miss is because they fall too far behind, and with 30 kids to deal with the teacher does not have all the time in the world to help a student that never shows up to catch up.

Would it be better if she just sucked it up and came to work, sending your kid home with her sickness so they could then give it to their siblings as well?

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answers from San Francisco on

10 absences per school year means they call in sick AT LEAST once a month. That is too much.

Personally, I believe that with the entire summer off, two weeks out for xmas (some have 3 weeks) and then ski week and spring break, plus all the 3 day weekends, they shouldn't have to call in sick at all! Hell, they're already only working 8 months a year!

Then they wonder why they don't make a huge amount of money. Probably because they don't work but 3/4 of the year!



answers from San Francisco on

I think anything more that two weeks is too much.--If you feel that it is excessive or that your daughter is being negatively effected by it, I would call the teacher and ask for a conference. See if she will meet with you and give you some tools to help your daughter with reading. You can ask her about the subs and see if they continue what she has on for the day etc....



answers from Dallas on

You have every right to be concerned. This happened to my daughter in 3rd grade. Within the first month of school her teacher missed 5 days. Then it was 4 days the second month. So I went to the principal to show my concern. Although her school has subs they use regularly likes others below mention. She still had like 4 different teachers for those 9 abesenses. The principal played it off and said her kids had been sick alot and not to worry. Well after a few more abesenes in Nov. I called and left a message w/Principal again. But she never called me back and then it was Thanksgiving so I didn't follow up...then In December she only missed one or two days, so I let it slide again thinking maybe she was going to be back on track after xmas break. When the kids went back after break her teacher was absent that entire week. So I called again to the prinicipals office to ask her to move my daughter to a diff. class. My main concern was Math becuz 3rd grade is prob. one of the most important years for Math. You learn to multiply and divide and start fractions and decimals...plus endless story problems. Again they told me the principal was aware and was monitoring it. Well the next monday when the teacher still wasn't back I marched into the prinicipals office to demand my daughter be moved and she told me they had tested my daughters class that week before and that they were 3 weeks behind. 3 Weeks!! I was sooooo mad. Why did they have to wait that long when I could see the problem as early as September, (and Oct. and Nov.) I was soooo angry. I now wish I had listend to my gut instinct instead of being made to feel I was over-exagerating the situation. That has really hurt my daughter in Math. They removed that teacher and replaced her with really great teacher, but by then it was the 3rd week of January and STARR test was in A.....So if you really feel like she is gone to much ask to have your child moved sooner rather than later. At that point I couldn't move my daughter to another class becuz she was 3 weeks behind all the other classes. Still makes me angry to think about the lack of concern from the school. For this situation. The only thing I ever heard about this teacher was she was going through a divorce. If she couldn't handle that then SHE should have removed herself I felt like. Where was her concern for her students. Anyway...sorry Definitely stay on top of this situation.

PS I don't think you need to apologize for anything. Your tone was appropriate.



answers from Honolulu on

Typically, every grade level, has a Grade Level "Chair."
So, either contact this person or the Principal, and ask them or bring up your concern.

If your daughter is not getting her reading group as it is supposed to be, then ask, why.

Ask in a non-confrontational manner.

Plus, your daughter's Teacher, is not responsive at all.
That would irk me.
How... did you contact the Teacher? Phone message or e-mail? I would, e-mail her. And SAY... you would like a response back. If not, some Teachers do not respond. Teachers are not just sitting at their desk all day at their computer like in an office.

It is better to ask these questions, than to guess at it.
And see what is really, happening.



answers from Tampa on

I think that you might get some pretty negative responses to your question here. I asked a similar question last year and some of the answers were pretty harsh. My son's teacher last year missed quite a bit and I was also concerned.

The teacher is allowed to take off as many absences as allowed by their contract for your area. What surprised me when I looked into it was that the teachers in my area had more discretionary time to use during the school year than I get for the entire year. So, while I fet that my son's teacher missed a lot of work, it did not rise to a violation of her contract.

I had Moms tell me that I absolutely had no right to be concerned about this and that the teacher had lesson plans prepared for the substitute to use. I was told that the school would handle it and would put qualified substitutes in place so that my child's education did not suffer. When I mentioned that my son's homework was not getting checked, I had some Moms mention that it wasn't the substitute's job to check homework. So, go figure...doesn't seem like you can have it both ways.

My son's teacher was pregnant and seemed to have some other issues going on as well. Once she went out on maternity leave, the school did put a long-term sub that was amazing in charge of his class. That worked out well, but the other absences did make things difficult for the kids.

If you have concerns about your child's academic performance, bring that up to the teacher. If she does not respond, then feel free to got to the Principal. As for the absences, it sounds like anyone could have gotten the flu for 3 days. I don't think you should bring this up as an issue yet...



answers from Lubbock on

You are right to be concerned. Studies have shown a strong link between teacher presence and student success.

On the other hand, I am a teacher and we do have a lot of professional development. The average new teacher works 80 hours per week. More experienced teaches often work 60 hours per week or more. When we have professional development, we still have to plan and prepare. This adds to our workload.

Personally, I am so busy during the school year that it is difficult for me to incorporate all of the great things that I an learning during professional development into my daily lessons.

Of course, we do get a lot of time off during the summer and during holidays. I did attend 17 days of professional development during the summer.

I too am for less time off during the summer. Students do forget so much. When I taught third grade, I noticed that the first 5 months were spent plaing catch-up, then students zoomed ahead. It was astonishing!

In France, students have Wednesdays off for sports, piano lessons, etc. if we were set up like that, we could have all of our meetings and professional development on that day. I would love to extend the school year and only work 45-50 hours per week. I think being fresher would make me better at my job. Some teachers take days off to combat exhaustion or to catch up on grading.

You are right to be concerning about not being contacted. I do not always contact parents when I should, but I have never not returned a call.


answers from Washington DC on

I work at a montessori school and I am part time (3 days a week) and this is my first year there. I get 6 paid days off per year. I can use them as either sick days, vacation, or personal. I've already used 2 days. The first day I had the stomach flu and the 2nd day I had already planned a family day with my kids and husband before I even had planned on going back to work. So, I'm saving my last 4 days for when I am sick. I don't need to take any personal or vacation days because I'm only part time. But, I do get sick a lot (moved to this area 2 years ago) and I think my body is still adjusting to the area and germs around here. So, I do plan on using those days, but only when I really and truly need them. My reasons I would call in sick is if I get a fever or if I'm throwing up, pink eye, or something bad like strep. I think next year and each year that I'm working there I get more days off per year



answers from New York on

id try to set up a meeting with the teacher... honestly id be more upset that she hasnt respondedto u regarding your daughters reading skills than about her absences... i mean it really isnt your business why she is absent from school or how often, but i totally understand it bothering u that the substitutes arent following through with what her lesson plans are for the day...but then again that might be her fault and not the subs. I know when i was in school and there was a sub, most of the time the actual teacher would have them not do what was planned and just assign reading or a worksheet or something like that just to take up class time and the sub wouldnt actually have to "teach"

i agree though teachers n kids should have the same amoutn of absences



answers from Miami on

It's according to the reason. I've had a teacher whose husband had a brain tumor and he was pretty much at death's door. She was out for 6 weeks between him being so close to death and dying and her getting to the point that she could come back to school. She had a "long term sub" and I had no problem with this. Should she have lost her job because her husband was dying? No.

Also there are teachers who are pregnant and then have complications and end up needing a long term sub because they cannot work.

It's harder if they have a bunch of different subs come in. I am kind of thinking that this is what you're getting at.

The answer in my mind is that there is always a reason for teachers to be out, but as parents, it's not our business as to the reason. It's the principal's business. If the reason is unacceptable to the principal, the teacher will eventually lose her job.


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