Excused and Unexcused Absences
A. Excused Absences
Policy 3122 establishes the reasons for which the District will excuse student absences or tardiness consistent with state law. The student will be permitted to make up all missed assignments outside of class under reasonable conditions and time limits established by the appropriate teacher except; that in participation-type classes, a student’s grade may be affected because of the student’s inability to make up the activities conducted during a class period.
Students and parents/guardians will use the following procedures to report absences or tardiness:
- When possible, the parent/guardian is expected to notify the school office on the morning of the absence by phone, email, written note, or the electronic Skyward system and to provide the excuse for the absence. If no excuse is provided with the notification, or no notification is provided, the parent/guardian will submit an excuse via phone, email, written note, or the electronic Skyward system upon the student’s return to school.
- Adult students (those older than 18 or who are married to an adult) and emancipated students (those older than 16 who have been emancipated by court action) will notify the school office in lieu of a parent/guardian using the procedure discussed above.
- Students age 14 or older who are absent due to testing or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease (including HIV/AIDS) will notify the school of their absence with a note of explanation, which will be kept confidential in accordance with state law.
- Students age 13 or older who are absent for mental health or drug or alcohol treatment will notify the school of their absence with a note of explanation, which will be kept confidential in accordance with state law.
- All students who are absent for family planning and/or related medical purposes will notify the school of their absence with a note of explanation, which will be kept confidential in accordance with state law.
The following additional procedures apply to absences for specific reasons listed in Policy 3122:
- Absence for parent/guardian-approved activities: This category of absence will be counted as excused for purposes agreed to in advance of the absence by the school principal or designee and the parent/guardian, adult student, or emancipated minor. An absence will not be approved if the principal or designee determines that it would cause a serious adverse effect upon the student’s educational progress. In participation-type classes (e.g., certain music and physical education classes), the student may not be able to achieve the objectives of the unit of instruction as a result of absence from class. In such cases, a parent/guardian-approved absence would have a serious adverse effect on the student’s educational progress that would ultimately be reflected in the grade for the course, therefore such absence will not be excused.
- Absence due to extended illness or health condition: As specified in Policy 2165 and Procedure 2165, upon request from a parent/guardian or an adult student, home or hospital instruction will be provided to students who are unable to attend school for an estimated period of four weeks or more because of disability or illness. A written statement from a qualified medical practitioner verifying that the student will not be able to attend school for an estimated period of four weeks or more must accompany the request.
If an elementary school student subject to mandatory attendance has five or more excused absences in a single month during the current school year or 10 or more excused absences during the current school year, the District will schedule a conference with the student and his or her parents/guardians at a reasonably convenient time. This conference is intended to identify barriers to the student’s regular attendance and identify supports and resources so the student may regularly attend school. The conference must include at least one District employee (such as a nurse, counselor, social worker, teacher, or community human service provider). If a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference day is to take place within 30 days of the absences, the conference may be held on that day.
If the student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan, the team that created the program will reconvene prior to a truancy petition and/or applicable deadlines. A conference is not required when prior notice of the excused absences was provided to the District or a doctor’s note has been provided and a plan is in place to ensure the student will not fall behind in his or her coursework.
B. Unexcused Absences
Unexcused absences fall into two categories:
- Submitting an excuse that does not qualify for an excused absence as defined in Policy 3122 and above; or
- Failing to submit, whether by phone, email, in writing, or by the electronic Skyward system, any type of excuse statement by the parent/guardian, adult student, emancipated minor, or student (where allowed due to confidentiality reasons discussed above).
Any student who presents false evidence, with or without the consent of his or her parent/guardian, in order to wrongfully qualify for an excused absence will be subject to the same consequences that would have occurred had the false excuse not been used.
C. Student Discipline Consequences for Unexcused Absences and Tardiness
Students may be subject to “other forms of discipline,” as that term is defined in Procedure 3241P, for unexcused absences and tardiness. However, students will not be suspended or expelled due to absences or tardiness. All sanctions imposed for failure to comply with attendance policies and procedures will be implemented in accordance with state and District rules regarding student discipline.
D. Grading Consequences for Unexcused Absences and Tardiness
A student’s academic grades/credit in a particular subject/course may be adversely affected by reason of unexcused absence or tardiness as allowed by Policy 3122 and state law. A student’s grade will not be affected by an unexcused absence if no graded activity is missed during such an absence.
Prior to affecting a student’s grades or credit in a subject/course, the teacher will consider the circumstances pertaining to the student’s inability to attend school, including but not limited to whether the tardiness or absences are directly related to a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
E. Other Consequences for Unexcused Absences and Tardiness
In addition to other forms of discipline or grading consequences imposed for unexcused absences or tardiness, the District will take the steps described below to address truancy as required by state law.
1. Written Notice to Parents/Guardians
Each unexcused absence within any month of the current school year will be followed by a letter or phone call to the parent/guardian informing him or her of the consequences of additional unexcused absences. The school will make reasonable efforts to provide this information in a language in which that parent/guardian is fluent.
2. Attendance Conference
After three unexcused absences within any month of the current school year, the school will hold a conference with the principal or designee, student, and parent/guardian to analyze the causes of the student’s absenteeism. If a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference is scheduled to take place within 30 days of the third unexcused absence, the District may schedule the attendance conference on the same day. If the parent/guardian does not attend the scheduled conference, the school may hold the conference with the student and principal or designee. However, the school will notify the parent/guardian of the steps to be taken to eliminate or reduce the student’s absences.
3. Data-Informed Steps to Eliminate or Reduce Absences
At some point after the second and before the fifth unexcused absence during the current school year, the District will take data-informed steps to eliminate or reduce the student’s absences. In middle school and high school, these steps will include application of the Washington Assessment of the Risks and Needs of Students (WARNS) or other assessment by the District’s designated employee.
For any student with an existing Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan, these steps will include convening the student’s IEP team or Section 504 team, including a behavior specialist or mental health specialist where appropriate, to consider the reasons for the student’s absences. If necessary, and if the student’s parent/guardian gives consent, the District will conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) exploring the function of the absenteeism behavior and will develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to address the behavior, in accordance with Policy 2161 and Procedure 2161P. Time should be allowed for the BIP to be initiated and data tracked to determine progress.
For any student who does not have an IEP or Section 504 Plan, but who is reasonably believed to have a mental or physical disability or impairment, these steps will include informing the student’s parent/guardian of the right to obtain an appropriate District evaluation at no cost to determine whether the student has a disability or impairment and needs accommodations, special education services, or related services. This includes students with suspected emotional or behavioral disabilities. If the District obtains consent to conduct an evaluation, time should be allowed for the evaluation to be completed. If the student is found to be eligible for accommodations, special education services, or related services, a plan will be developed to address the student’s needs in accordance with the District’s policies and procedures for IEPs and Section 504 Plans.
For all students subject to this section, these steps must include, where appropriate, providing an available approved best practice- or research-based intervention, or both, consistent with the WARNS profile or other assessment, if an assessment was applied, adjusting the child’s school program or school or course assignment, providing more individualized or remedial instruction, providing appropriate vocational courses or work experience, referring the child to a community truancy board, requiring the child to attend an alternative school or program, or assisting the parent/guardian or child to obtain supplementary services that might eliminate or ameliorate the cause(s) for the absence from school.
4. Agreement with Student; Referral to Community Truancy Board; or Optional Truancy Petition
Not later than a student’s fifth unexcused absence in a month, the District will: enter into an agreement with the student and parents/guardians that establishes school attendance requirements; refer the student to a community truancy board; or file a petition to juvenile court, as described below.
A “community truancy board” means a board established pursuant to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between a juvenile court and the District and composed of members of the local community in which the student attends school.
The District will designate and identify to the juvenile court (and update as necessary) and to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) a staff member to coordinate District efforts to address excessive absenteeism and truancy, including scheduling outreach and conferences, coordinating the MOU, establishing protocols and procedures with the court, coordinating trainings, and sharing evidence-based and culturally appropriate promising practices. The District will also identify a person within each school to serve as a contact regarding excessive absenteeism and truancy.
5. Mandatory Truancy Petition
Not later than a student’s seventh unexcused absence within any month during the current school year, or a tenth unexcused absence during the current school year, if the District’s attempts to substantially reduce a student’s absences have not been successful and if the student is under the age of 17, the District will file a petition and supporting affidavit for a civil action in juvenile court.
The petition will contain the following:
- A statement that the student has unexcused absences in the current school year (taking into account any absences from a school district from which the student transferred, as discussed below).
- An attestation that actions taken by the District have not been successful in substantially reducing the student’s absences from school;
- A statement that court intervention and supervision are necessary to assist the District to reduce the student’s absences from school;
- A statement that RCW 28A.225.010 has been violated by the parent/guardian, student, or parent/guardian and student;
- The student’s name, date of birth, school, address, gender, race and ethnicity; the names and addresses of the student’s parents/guardians; whether the student and parent/guardian are fluent in English; whether there is an existing IEP; and the student’s current academic status in school;
- A list of all interventions that have been attempted, a copy of any previous truancy assessment completed by the District, the history of approved best practices intervention or research-based intervention(s) previously provided to the student by the District, and a copy of the most recent truancy information document provided to the parent/guardian.
- Facts that support the above allegations.
Petitions may be served by certified mail, return receipt requested, but if such service is unsuccessful, personal service is required. At the District’s choice, it may be represented by a person who is not an attorney at hearings related to truancy petitions.
If the allegations in the petition are established by a preponderance of the evidence, state law requires the court to grant the petition and enter an order assuming jurisdiction to intervene for a period of time determined by the court, after considering the facts alleged in the petition and the circumstances of the student, to most likely cause the student to return to and remain in school while the student is subject to the court’s jurisdiction.
If the court assumes jurisdiction, the District will periodically report to the court any additional unexcused absences by the student, actions taken by the District, and an update on the student’s academic status in school on a schedule specified by the court. The first report must be received no later than three months from the date that the court assumes jurisdiction.
F. Attendance Record Upon Student Transfer
If a child transfers into the District from another school district during the school year, the District will include the unexcused absences accumulated at the previous school district for purposes of calculating the number of days of absence in a given month or school year under this procedure. State law provides that the sending school district will provide information on unexcused absences to the receiving school, together with a copy of: previous WARNS or other attendance assessment results; the history of best practices- or researched-based interventions previously provided by the child’s sending school district; and the most recent truancy information (including any online or written acknowledgment by the parent/guardian and child).
When a student transfers from the District to another school district, the District will provide that information about unexcused absences required by RCW 28A.225.020.
Initial Adopted: April 11, 2016
Amended: October 23, 2017
Amended: July 22, 2019