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Senate approves excused absences for student mental health appointments

OKLAHOMA CITY – The full Senate passed legislation Tuesday to provide families more support when it comes to protecting the mental health of their children. Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, is the principal Senate author of House Bill 1035 to provide excused absences for student mental health counseling or occupational therapy sessions if the parent or guardian submits a written request to the school beforehand.

“We’ve seen a significant spike in teen suicide rates since the COVID pandemic, along with other mental health struggles, yet school absences for mental health treatments aren’t currently excused like they are for emergencies or physical injuries and disabilities,” Pemberton said. “We are removing roadblocks that impede students from getting much needed help.” 

Currently, students are typically only allowed nine absences per semester and are failed on the tenth, unless the absences are excused.  

HB 1035 directs school districts to excuse absences related to mental health or occupational therapy once they receive documentation from the provider.

The measure now returns to the House for further consideration of Senate amendments. Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, R-Norman, is the House author.


For more information, contact:  Sen. Pemberton: (405) 521-5533 or