Local News

Fort Bragg Asks for Time Off for Military Kids

Posted November 6, 2007 7:02 p.m. EST

— Fort Bragg is asking school districts in the 11 counties surrounding the U.S. Army post to give students five additional excused absences when a parent returns from war.

"It's a great idea, especially with parents on R&R, coming home from war, so they can spend time with their whole family," said Chris Harriss, who returned Monday from Afghanistan.

His son, Camden, attends Anderson Creek Primary School in Bunnlevel, where 46 percent of children have parents in the military.

The influx of troops returning home from deployment during a time of year where there aren't traditional breaks is what is prompting the request.

Students typically get a number of absences each school year. The request from Fort Bragg extends that number.

At Anderson, in Harnett County, school administrators are working with the military to accommodate the request.

"It makes us feel good we can accommodate that need," said Anderson principal Leanne O'Quinn. "We love these little children."

Other school systems are also working with Fort Bragg. Cumberland, Moore and Hoke County school systems, for example, are working with families on an individual basis. Some students could get more or less than the suggested five excused absences.

Under the agreement, students are still expected to make up their work. But school officials say it is actually better for the long-term to allow for the extra absences.

"When the child feels really good about what's going on at home -- especially if they're reuniting with a mom or dad, their academics will be so much stronger," O'Quinn said.

Fort Bragg is drafting a "Memo of Agreement" and will ask school leaders in Bladen, Moore, Cumberland, Richmond, Harnett, Robeson, Hoke, Sampson, Lee, Scotland and Montgomery counties to sign it.