A local family is pushing for a new state law that would help students who are labeled truant because they miss more than 10 days of school because of chronic conditions.

Ralph Gingras’ daughter, Stephanie, suffers from Chiari malformation – her skull is too small for her brain – and missed 70 days of school her senior year. State law says that a student can miss up to 10 days of school but must have a doctor’s note for each additional absence, something the Gingras family couldn’t always get, a story in The Journal Times reads.

Stephanie graduated on time last year, but Ralph knows there are other Racine Unified families struggling with similar circumstances. He contacted Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, about a bill that would give parents the opportunity to request an evaluation to help determine if a student has a disability and qualifies for the 504 rule, the story continues.

In a nutshell, the 504 rule requires schools to work with a student’s condition so they don’t fall behind in their schoolwork; giving them time to take their medication or adhere to a special diet, for example. Ralph told the newspaper he didn’t ask about the 504 rule for Stephanie because he didn’t know about it.

Mason introduced the bill last November, the story reads. If it becomes law, the school attendance officer must notify parents if a student has missed more than 10 days of school so the family can request an evaluation. If the student is determined to have a disability – like a chronic illness like Chiari – that child can have an individual education plan (IEP) so their school work is modified to include things like online classes or tutoring.

“If somebody is truant because they’re skipping school and causing mischief in the community, that’s a totally different thing than somebody who’s dealing with a chronic illness or disability,” Mason is quoted as saying.

Robin Vos, R-Rochester, supports the measure and believes it will go before the full Assembly still this session.