The West

An teacher strike earlier this year was well attended.

Children who miss school because of the teachers' strike next week could have an "unauthorised absence" recorded on their attendance record, the Education Department has warned.

Unions representing teachers and other school staff, as well as parents' group Save Our Schools, have called on parents to support their stance against cuts to school budgets by bringing their children to protest marches and rallies across the State on Tuesday.

Many public schools are expected to close for the all-day strike because they will not have enough staff to supervise children.

But department director- general Sharyn O'Neill said parents should assume their school would be open unless they heard otherwise from their principal.

A list of schools authorised to close will be posted on the department's website this afternoon.

More than 60 schools were forced to shut in September when thousands of school staff held stop-work rallies at Gloucester Park and around the State.

The State School Teachers Union criticised the department after the September strike for tarnishing students' attendance records by marking them as "unauthorised absentees" if their school remained open but their parents kept them home. Ms O'Neill said that if a school was open, students were required by law to attend unless parents provided a valid reason such as illness.

"If a school is allowed by the director-general to close on April 1 because it cannot provide adequate supervision for students, then obviously students cannot attend and no absence will be recorded," she said.

"However, if the school is open and students stay away because of the union action or any other inappropriate reason, they will be recorded as unauthorised absences."

Ms O'Neill said it was inappropriate for principals to encourage student absence if a school was not closed and urged parents not to listen to rumours that it was OK to keep a child away from school during the strike.

Save Our Schools spokesman Tim Kucera said the department was making a heavy-handed attempt to intimidate parents.

The West Australian

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