3122P - Excused and Unexcused Absences Procedure
Students are expected to attend all assigned classes each day. Teachers shall keep a record of absences and tardiness as set forth in Regulation 3122. Schools will contact households informing parents that their student(s) were marked absent that day.
At the beginning of each school year, the District will provide information to students and parents regarding the benefits of regular school attendance; the potential effects of excessive absenteeism, whether excused or unexcused, on academic achievement and graduation and dropout rates; the school’s expectations of the parents to ensure regular school attendance; the resources available to assist the child and the parents; the role and responsibilities of the school; and the consequences of truancy, including the compulsory education requirements under Washington law.
A. Excused Absences
The following procedures govern certain types of excused absences defined in Regulation 3122:
1. For absences due to illness, health conditions, medical appointments, family emergencies, religious or cultural purposes, court appointments, post-secondary visits, search and rescue activities, student safety concerns, deployment activities, lack of necessary instructional tools or a student’s migrant, homeless or foster care status: When possible, the parent is expected to notify the school office on the morning of the absence by phone, e-mail, or written note, and to provide the excuse for the absence. If this notice is not provided, the parent is expected to notify the school office by 8:00 AM of the day following the absence or send a signed note of explanation with the student upon their return to school. Adult students eighteen (18) years of age or older and emancipated students (those over sixteen (16) years of age who have been emancipated by court action) shall notify the school office of their absences with a signed note of explanation. Students fourteen (14) years old or older who are absent from school due to testing or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease shall notify the school of their absence with a signed note of explanation, which will be kept confidential. Students thirteen (13) years and older may do the same for mental health, drug or alcohol treatment; and all students have that right for family planning and abortion.
2. Mutually agreeable absences for approved activities that are consistent with District policies: To obtain an excused absence for approved activities, the student must get a pre-arranged absence form from the Attendance Office and circulate the form among their teachers, who will sign it and indicate to what extent the student’s grade and/or progress will be affected by the proposed absence(s). The parent shall sign the form and return it to the Attendance Office one week prior to the first scheduled absence. The Attendance Office will notify the parents/student if the absence will be excused according to Regulation 3122 criteria. For example, in participation-type classes, the student may not be able to achieve some of the objectives of the unit of instruction as a result of absence from class. In such a case, an adverse effect on the student's educational progress may include a lower grade. Parents and students are responsible for understanding the effect of the requested absence(s) on the student’s grade and their standing. In general, however, pre-arranged absences shall not be approved if they cause a serious adverse effect on the student’s educational progress.
3. Absence resulting from disciplinary actions: Regulation 3122 sets forth the criteria for determining whether a student is absent due to disciplinary action. Any absences as a result of disciplinary action are excused and students shall have the right to make up assignments or exams missed during the time they are denied entry to the classroom. All suspensions and/or expulsions will be reported in writing to the superintendent within 24 hours after imposition.
4. Extended illness or chronic health condition: If a student is confined to home or hospital for an extended period, the school shall arrange for the accomplishment of assignments at the place of confinement whenever practical. If the student is unable to do their schoolwork, or if there are major requirements of a particular course which cannot be accomplished outside of class, the student may be required to take an incomplete or withdraw from the class without penalty. The school team should convene on behalf of a student with an extended illness or chronic health condition that is impacting school attendance and consider any input and recommendations of the student’s medical provider.
Absences need to be verified by the parent or guardian. Parents should provide their students with a note or contact the Attendance Office no later than 8:00 A.M. of the day following an absence and or consistent with the building Student Handbook. After an absence, students are to report directly to the Attendance Office and then to class.
Assignments and/or activities not completed because of an excused absence or tardiness may be made up in the manner provided by the teacher. A student shall be allowed one make up day for each day of absence. Failure to punctually complete missed assignments will result in the loss of credit for those assignments. Students should note that not all types of work can be made up (special panels, guest speakers, etc.).
B. Unexcused Absences
Unexcused absences fall into two categories: submitting a signed excuse which does not constitute an excused absence as defined above, or failing to submit any type of excuse statement signed by the parent, guardian, or student if at least eighteen (18) years of age or legally emancipated. This type of absence is also defined as truancy. The procedures in this section will be followed for students with full-day unexcused absences, as that term is defined in Regulation 3122.
1. Each full-day unexcused absence shall be followed by a warning letter or telephone call to the parent of the student. Each written notice shall be in English or the primary language of the parent.
2. After three (3) unexcused full-day absences within any month, a conference will be scheduled between the parent, student and principal/designee (a regularly scheduled teacher-parent conference held within thirty days of the third unexcused absence may substitute). If the parent does not attend the scheduled conference, the conference may be conducted with the student and principal/designee. If the parent did not attend, they shall be notified of the steps taken to eliminate or reduce the child’s absence.
3. At some point after the second (2nd) and before the seventh (7th) full-day unexcused absence, the District will take data-informed steps to eliminate or reduce the student’s absences as specifically set forth in RCW 28A.225.020(1)(c), including all subsections.
4. Not later than the student’s seventh (7th) unexcused full-day absence within any month, the District shall enter into an agreement with the student and parents that establishes school attendance requirements, refer the student to a community truancy board as defined in RCW 28A.225.025 or file a petition and affidavit with the juvenile court alleging a violation of RCW 28A.225.010.
5. After the student’s seventh (7th) unexcused full-day absence within any month and not later than the student’s fifteenth (15th) unexcused full-day absence during the current school year, the District shall file a petition and affidavit with the juvenile court alleging a violation of RCW 28A.225.010 by the parent, student, or parent and student. The petition consists of written notification to the court alleging that:
a. The student has at least seven (7) or more unexcused full-day absences within any month during the current school year or fifteen (15) or more unexcused full-day absences in the current school year;
b. Actions taken by the District have not been successful in substantially reducing the student’s absences from school;
c. Court intervention and supervision are necessary to assist the District to reduce the student’s absences from school; and
d. Additionally, the petition shall include the other required components set forth in RCW 28A.225.030 and .035.
Generally, a student’s grade shall not be affected if no graded activity is missed during an unexcused absence. However, any work due or assigned during an unexcused absence cannot be made up for credit.
C. Attendance Requirements for Children Under Eight (8) Years of Age.
Although compulsory attendance laws only apply to children who are at least eight (8) years of age up to eighteen (18) years of age (see Regulation 3121), students who are less than eight(8) years of age who have been enrolled in the District’s schools are required to attend school, and their parents are responsible for ensuring that they attend. Parents who wish to withdraw their children before the children are eight (8) years old and against whom no truancy petition has been filed, may withdraw the students from school. When a student who is less than eight(8) years old has unexcused absences, the District shall do the following:
1. Notify the parent or guardian in writing or by telephone after one (1) unexcused full-day absence in any month.
2. Request a conference with the parent or guardian and child to analyze the causes of the student’s absences after three (3) unexcused full-day absences in any month (a regularly scheduled teacher-parent conference held within thirty days of the third unexcused absence may substitute).
3. Take steps to eliminate or reduce the student’s absences, including: adjusting the school program, school, course assignment; providing more individualized or remedial instruction; offering assistance in enrolling the student in alternative schools or programs; or assisting the parent or student in obtaining supplementary services.
4. After seven (7) unexcused full-day absences within any month during the current school year, and not later than the fifteenth (15th) unexcused full-day absences during the current school year, the District shall file a truancy petition.
D. Conference for Elementary Students for Excused Absences.
In the event that a child in elementary school is required to attend school under Washington law and has five (5) or more excused absences in a single month during the current school year, or ten(10) or more excused absences in the current school year, the District will schedule a conference or conferences with the parent and child for the purpose of identifying the barriers to the child’s regular attendance, and the supports and resources that may be made available to the family so that the child is able to regularly attend school (a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference held within thirty days of the absences may substitute).
The conference must include at least one District employee such as a nurse, counselor, social worker, teacher, or community human services provider, except in those instances regarding the attendance of a child who has an Individualized Education Program or a plan developed under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, in which case the reconvening of the team that created the program or plan is required.
A conference is not required in the event of excused absences for which prior notice has been given to the school or a doctor’s note has been provided and an academic plan is put in place so that the child does not fall behind.
Unless properly excused, students are required to be in class each assigned class period and on time. Consequences for unexcused tardiness are progressive, beginning at the level of the classroom teacher.
When a student’s tardiness becomes frequent or disruptive, the student may be referred to the appropriate administrator/designee. If interventions are ineffective in changing the student’s attendance behavior, corrective action may be considered.
F. Partial Day Absence
Students who leave class during the school day must be properly checked out through the Attendance Office (see 3124 and 3124P). An absence that results from a student leaving class during the school day will be deemed excused or unexcused based on the criteria set forth in Regulation 3122. Leaving class without prior approval and without properly signing out may be cause for disciplinary action.
Any student who presents false evidence, with or without the consent of his/her parent, in order to wrongfully qualify for an excused absence shall be subject to the same consequences that would have occurred had the false excuse not been used. In addition, discipline for the falsehood will also be imposed.
H. Adult and Emancipated Students
Emancipated students are students at least sixteen (16) years of age who have been emancipated by the court. Prior to the assumption of full responsibility for attendance and all other school functions by the emancipated student, it is strongly recommended that a parent/guardian/student conference with an administrator be held.