Attendance Requirements

ATTENDANCE MATTERS:

Good attendance is important to student success. Studies have shown that too many absences—excused or unexcused—can keep students from succeeding in school and in life. How many are too many? 10% of the school year—that’s 18 missed days or 2 days a month—can knock students off track.

State law outlines the reasons that absences must be excused:

(a) Illness, health condition, or medical appointment (including, but not limited to, medical, counseling, dental, optometry, pregnancy, and in-patient or out-patient treatment for chemical dependency or mental health) for the student or person for whom the student is legally responsible;

(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 (https://bit.ly/2XBwvMz) 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.  

Schools are required to take daily attendance and notify you when your student has an unexcused absence. 

Attendance and  Truancy Legal Requirements: Elementary Students:

  • After five excused absences within any month or 15 cumulative excused absences in a 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. If the student has an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 Plan, the IEP or 504 team must convene.  NOTE: A conference of the 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. This step of holding a conference for excused absences is only required for elementary school students. 
  • If a 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. If the student has an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 Plan the team that created the plan needs to reconvene.
  • If a student has seven or more unexcused absences in 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. 
    • 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. 

Attendance and Truancy Legal Requirements: Middle and High School Students

  • If a 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. If the student has an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 Plan the team that created the plan needs to reconvene.
  • If a student has seven or more unexcused absences in 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. 
    • 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. 

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.

 

Updated September 2021