Student is absent more than 10 days in a row. Withdraw?

I found a case from Arizona in which a school “unenrolled” a student because he was absent for ten consecutive days.  This later became an issue in a special education dispute between the parent and the school. The court held that the “unenrollment” was not a violation of the student’s right to FAPE: a Free Appropriate Public Education. The case is Pangerl v. Peoria USD, 73 IDELR 49 (D.C. Ariz. 2018).

How would a thing like this play out in Texas?  Can you simply “unenroll” a student due to lack of attendance?  I scoured the Student Attendance Accounting Handbook (SAAH) in search of an answer to this question and I think I’ve found it.  It’s at Section 3.4.3:

3.4.3 Students Whose Whereabouts Are Unknown

Your district should decide the withdrawal date for a student who never officially withdrew from school, but whose whereabouts can no longer be determined, according to applicable local policies. For example, local policy may state that a student is withdrawn 10 days after he or she last attended if his or her whereabouts are unknown. Once withdrawn, a student in grades 7 through 12 must be reported as a school leaver on a 40203 Record and will possibly be considered a dropout according to Section 2 of the TSDS PEIMS Data Standards.

I take that to mean that you cannot withdraw a student unless 1) your board has adopted local policies permitting you to do so; and 2) you can’t locate the kid.  However, there is one other wrinkle on this, based on one of the “examples” that is provided in the SAAH:

3.11.31 Example 31

A student enrolled in your district has left the district to act in a movie that is being filmed in another state. The student’s parent said that the student would be in the other state for several months but might return before the end of the school year. District staff members would like to withdraw the student for the duration of the student’s absence.

Because your district has become aware that the student no longer resides in the district, your district may withdraw the student.

 To summarize: first, look at your local policy. If your board has adopted policies that authorize a withdrawal, you will probably find it at FEA (Local).  It will likely track the SAAH.  Second, if you know where the student is, you cannot withdraw the student unless you have been notified that the student no longer resides in your district.  Your FEA Local may require diligent efforts to locate the student.  If you have the local policy, and you make diligent efforts, and you cannot locate the student, you can administratively withdraw the student.

Legal questions can come up about this, and “withdrawal” is a fairly harsh thing to do. So when in doubt, give you school attorney a call.