Daily school attendance is critical for student success. Studies have shown that students who miss 10% of the school year (18 missed days, or two days a month) are more likely to get off track academically. All absences have an impact- both excused and unexcused - please do your part to ensure that your student is at school every day.
Schools are required to take attendance every day and notify you when your student is absent. BISD School Board Policy 3122 and Procedure P3122 outline the district’s policy regarding excused and unexcused absences. BISD is required to provide annual notice of its Attendance Policy.
Absences due to the following reasons may be excused:
(a) Physical health or mental health symptoms, illness, health condition or medical appointment for the student or person for whom the student is legally responsible. Examples of symptoms, illness, health conditions, or medical appointments include but are not limited to: medical, counseling, mental health wellness, dental, optometry, pregnancy, and behavioral health treatment (which can include in-patient or out-pateint treatment for chemical dependency or mental health);
(b) Family emergency including, but not limited to, a death or illness in the family;
(c) Religious or cultural purpose including observance of a religious or cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction;
(d) Court, judicial proceeding, court-ordered activity, or jury service;
(e) Postsecondary, technical school or apprenticeship program visitation, or scholarship interview;
(f) State-recognized search and rescue activities consistent with RCW 28A.225.055;
(g) Absence directly related to the student's homeless or foster care/dependency status;
(h) Absences related to deployment activities of a parent or legal guardian who is an active-duty member consistent with RCW 28A.705.010;
(i) Absences due to suspensions, expulsions, or emergency expulsions imposed pursuant to chapter 392-400 WAC if the student is not receiving educational services and is not enrolled in qualifying "course of study" activities as defined in WAC 392-121-107;
(j) Absences due to student safety concerns, including absences related to threats, assaults, or bullying;
(k) Absences due to a student's migrant status;
(l) Absences due to an approved activity that is consistent with district policy and is mutually agreed upon by the principal or designee and a parent, guardian, or emancipated youth; and
(m) Absences due to the student's lack of necessary instructional tools including internet access or connectivity.
State law requires that school districts take data-informed steps to reduce both excused and unexcused absences.
Elementary students - excused absences
If an elementary student has five excused absences in a single month during the current school year, or ten excused absences in the current school year, the school will schedule a conference with the guardian of the elementary student and the child for the purpose of identifying barriers to attendance and supports/resources available to assist the family. This step of holding a conference for excused absences is only required for elementary school students.
If the student has an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 Plan, the IEP or 504 team must convene. A conference or IEP/504 team meeting is not required if prior notice has been given or a doctor’s note has been provided and an academic plan has been put in place.
All students - unexcused absences
If any student has three unexcused absences within a month, the school will schedule a conference with parent/guardian and student for the purpose of identifying barriers to the student’s regular attendance and the supports and resources that may be made available to the family and the steps to be taken to support the student to attend.
Between the second and seventh cumulative unexcused absences in a school year, the school/district must:
Take data-informed steps to eliminate or reduce student’s absences.
Convene the IEP or 504 team if the student has an IEP or a 504 Plan to consider the reasons for the absences and adjust the IEP or 504 Plan as necessary. This is required and is in addition to the requirement to have a parent conference after 3 unexcused absences.
Administer the WARNS (Washington Assessment of Risks and Needs of Students) or other assessment (middle/high school students only).
If any student has seven unexcused absences within a month, the school/district is required to do one of the following:
Enter into an agreement with the student and parent establishing attendance requirements, or
Refer student to a Community Engagement Board, or
File petition under subsection (1) of RCW 28A.225.030
After seven unexcused absences in a month and not later than 15 cumulative unexcused absences in a school year, the school/district must:
File truancy petition with Juvenile Court. Court must “stay” the petition. “Stay” means that the court will temporarily hold the case from moving forward, giving the district, parent, and student time to address the causes of absences through the CEB and subsequent supports & interventions.
Refer the parent and child to a Community Engagement Board (CEB) or other coordinated means of intervention if referral did not take place before the petition. The CEB meeting must take place within 20 days of the referral. The CEB must meet with the child, a guardian, and school district representative and enter into an agreement.
Washington State Attendance and Truancy Legal Requirements are located at these links:
Washington state law (RCW 28A.225.010) requires mandatory attendance for children ages 8 to 17 at 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.
Updated August 2023