Attendance Requirements and Resources
Good attendance helps children do well in school and eventually in the workplace.
Good attendance matters for school success, starting as early as prekindergarten and throughout elementary school. By middle and high school, poor attendance is a leading indicator of dropout. Developing the habit of attendance prepares students for success on the job and in life.
Excused and unexcused absences easily add up to too much time lost in the classroom.
- Students are at risk academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days. Once too many absences have occurred, they can affect learning, regardless of whether absences are excused or unexcused.
- Sporadic, not just consecutive, absences matter. Before you know it – just one or two days a month can add up to nearly 10 percent of the school year.
- Avoid unnecessary absences. Some absences are unavoidable. Occasionally, children get sick and need to stay home. What is important is getting children to school as often as possible.
Chronic absence, missing 10 percent of the school year or more, does not just affect the students who miss school. If too many students are chronically absent, it slows down instruction for other students, who must wait while the teacher repeats material for absentee students. This makes it harder for students to learn and teachers to teach.
Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when the whole community, along with to parents and schools, get involved in improving attendance. All of us can make a difference by helping students and families feel engaged in learning and their schools, setting the expectation that school attendance matters and working together to identify and help families overcome barriers to getting to school.
Community partners are especially important for helping schools and families address and overcome tough barriers, such as limited access to health care, unstable housing, poor transportation or neighborhood violence.
Relationship building is fundamental to any strategy for improving student attendance. Students are more likely to go to school if they know someone cares whether they show up. Trusting relationships – whether with teachers, mentors, coaches or other caring adults – are critical to encouraging families and students to seek out help to overcome barriers to attendance.
There are many helpful resources for parents and teachers at Attendance Works.
If your student is going to be absent, please contact your child’s school attendance line.
Bainbridge High School: 206-842-2634
Commodore Options School (Eagle Harbor High School, Odyssey, Mosaic): 206-780-1660
Woodward Middle School: 206-780-4579
Sakai Intermediate School: 206-780-6600
Blakely Elementary: 206-780-2071
Wilkes Elementary: 206-780-3050
Ordway Elementary: 206-780-1075
In 2016, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill establishing attendance
requirements for school districts.In June, BISD revised its Policy for Excused and Unexcused Absences and it now reflects the new requirements. This includes informing parents about the importance of regular attendance, consequences for excessive absences (excused or unexcused) and the formation of a community truancy board.As BISD parents complete the online registration process in Family Access this year, they will be asked to read and electronically sign a document indicating they are aware of the new requirements. Here is a copy of the letter.
Requirements for being excused from school for a planned trip or activity
The parent/guardian or an emancipated or appropriately aged student may request prior principal approval of excused absences for a planned trip or activity. The parent/guardian is required to submit the Pre-arranged Absence Request and Plan for Missed Learning form (available on the district website) to the principal for approval as an excused absence. This form should be submitted to the principal at least one week in advance of the planned absence. The principal will make the decision to approve the absence as excused. The principal may deny the request if there is a history of excessive absences or if a satisfactory plan is not in place for the child to not fall behind academically during the period of the absence. Teachers are not required to provide different work or have assignments prepared in advance before those same assignments are introduced in class. Absences not approved by the principal will be categorized as unexcused.If your child is going to be absent for an extended time for an activity such as a trip, the absences must be pre-approved by the principal of your child's school and involve a written plan to ensure that your child doesn't fall behind.
School Policies and State Laws
It is important that you understand our school policies and procedures, as well as Washington State Law, to ensure your child is successful in school. State law for mandatory attendance, called the Becca Bill, requires children from age 8 to 17 to attend a public school, private school, or a district-approved home school program. Children that are 6- or 7-years-old are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if parents enroll their 6- or 7-year-old, the student must attend full-time. Youth who are 16 or older may be excused from attending public school if they meet certain requirements. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.225
We, the school, are required to take daily attendance and notify you when your student has an unexcused absence.
If your student has three unexcused absences in one month, state law (RCW 28A.225.020) requires we schedule a conference with you and your student to identify the barriers and supports available to ensure regular attendance. The district is obligated to develop a plan that may require an assessment to determine how to best meet the needs of your student and reduce absenteeism.
In elementary school after five excused absences in any month, or ten or more excused absences in the school year, the school district is required to contact you to schedule a conference at a mutually agreeable, reasonable time with at least one district employee, to identify the barriers and supports available to you and your student. A conference is not required if your student has provided a doctor’s note, or pre-arranged the absence in writing, and the parent, student and school have made plan so your student does not fall behind academically. If your student has an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 Plan the team that created the plan needs to reconvene.
If your student has seven unexcused absences in any month or ten unexcused absences within the school year, we are required to file a petition with the Juvenile court, alleging a violation of RCW 28A.225.010, the mandatory attendance laws. The petition may be automatically stayed and your student and family may be referred to a Community Truancy Board, or you and your student may need to appear in Juvenile Court. If your student continues to be truant you may need to go to court.