To:      All Faculty

From: Dr. Blanca Lupiani, 
           Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost

Date: September 1, 2019

Re: Student Absences for Religious Holy Days AY 2019-2020

Texas House Bill 256 and TAMU Student Rule 7: Attendance
Enacted by the Texas Legislature and effective 9/1/03, Texas House Bill 256 amends Chapter 51: Education Code, Section 51.911, and reads (in part):

“An institution of higher education shall excuse a student from attending classes or other required activities, including examinations, for the observance of a religious holy day, including travel for that purpose. A student whose absence is excused under this subsection may not be penalized for that absence and shall be allowed to take an examination or complete an assignment from which the student is excused within a reasonable amount of time after the absence.”

The language of House Bill 256 was adopted into Texas A&M Student Rules, Appendix IV: Excused Absences for Religious Holy Days. A “religious holy day” is defined as one observed by a religion whose places of worship are exempt from property taxation under Section 11.20, Tax Code.

For lists of holy days and their description, we encourage you to explore the following websites:

    The Interfaith Calendar

    PBS Multifaith Calendar

Faculty should grant excused-absence requests for holy days (the Dean of Faculties can help faculty in assessing the legitimacy of such requests). In addition, faculty should take particular care when scheduling class-related events outside regular class days. Please note that appropriate pre-approval is required for scheduling events outside the official university calendar.

Providing Accommodation for an Absence
Please note that neither the System Regulation 31.04.01 - System Holidays nor the Student Rule 7 - Attendance require that the student notify the instructor prior to an excused absence for religious observation. I ask that you accommodate students in a manner that is reasonable and also conveys the message that the University recognizes the importance of religious holy days.

If you have concerns about the implementation of this bill, please contact the office of the Dean of Faculties at 979.845.4274 or dof@tamu.edu.