4-H Excused Absences Signed by Governor

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Stitt on Tuesday signed House Bill 1006 into law, which will grant 4-H students an excused school absence when participating in an approved activity.

The bill's author, Rep. Rick West, R-Heavener, said he's pushed the legislation for the past four years as a way to provide fairness for students that participate in 4-H.

"Students that participate in FFA and other school activities already get excused absences," West said. "Our 4-H students deserve the same consideration to not have their grades negatively affected when they participate in an activity that is recognized by the county 4-H facilitator."

This will allow students to make up any missed work, West said.

He said the request for the measure was from a constituent, but it has gained statewide support.

The number of excused absences allowed is still subject to the attendance policy of the local school board. Students are not excused if they miss days during statewide assessments or during any period of time for which the student has been disciplined, suspended or expelled, if the terms of punishment would preclude them from participating in an educational field trip or extracurricular activity.

4-H is not offered through local school districts but is instead part of the Oklahoma State University Extension Program. FFA, by contrast, is offered through local school districts but overseen by the state Department of Career and Technology Education.

That was part of the challenge West said he had to overcome in convincing other lawmakers to vote in favor of the bill. The measure passed the House in 2023 but only passed the Senate on March 19 this year.

West praised his Senate author, Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, for getting the bill over the final hurdle and sent to the governor who quickly signed it into law. The bill will become effective 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die, in time for the next school year, West said.