(Video courtesy of Jeffrey Lee, fifth-grade teacher at Sacajawea Elementary)
Student welfare and attendance:
Did you know?
- Your children can suffer academically if they miss 10 percent of school days in a year, or about 18 days. That can be just one day every two weeks and can happen before you know it.
- It doesn’t matter if these absences are excused or unexcused. They all represent lost time in the classroom and lost opportunities to learn.
- Attendance matters as early as kindergarten. Studies show many children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade can struggle academically in later years. They often have trouble mastering reading by the end of third grade.
- Preschool is a great time to start building a habit of good attendance. Studies show that poor attendance in preschool can predict absenteeism in later grades.
- By middle and high school, chronic absence is a leading warning sign that a student will drop out.
All students between the ages of 8 and under 18 years are required by Washington state law to attend school regularly. If a parent or guardian enrolls a child at 6 or 7 years of age, the child is required by law to attend the full school session. To ensure compliance, each school takes regular attendance and the district has set a policy for excused and unexcused absences.
Parents or guardians must provide the school with an excuse for any absence, late arrival or early departure in the form of a note or personal contact with school officials. (Please refer to your child’s individual school student handbook.) Any absence not properly explained within three days of the student returning to school will not be excused without approval from an administrator.
Valid reasons for an excused absence include:
- Illness, health conditions or health care appointments
- Family emergencies
- Participation in school-approved activities
- Disciplinary action or short-term suspensions
- Observance of religious holidays
- Other absences as permitted by law (WAC 392-400-325 R5117)
All other absences will be considered unexcused and may result in disciplinary action and affect a student’s grades. (Please refer to your child’s individual school student handbook.)
Parents may be asked to provide documentation for an absence.
Elementary and secondary (sixth through 12th grade) students must follow separate procedures to secure a prearranged absence. Refer to the school student handbook for procedures.
Absences of six consecutive days or more due to illness or other health conditions require a note from a doctor or appropriate medical provider.
The school district will take the following action related to unexcused absences.
- On the first unexcused absence in any month, the school will notify the parent by phone or in writing of the student’s absence and of potential consequences for further unexcused absences.
- On the second unexcused absence in any month, a conference will be scheduled with parents or guardians and the student to discuss the absences. After five unexcused absences, an attendance agreement is required to be signed.
- If the student reaches seven unexcused absences in any month or 10 unexcused absences in the current school year, the district is required to file a petition in juvenile court alleging a violation of Washington state’s mandatory attendance law.