Attendance Policies and Procedures
Washington state law requires that all students between 8 and 18 years of age attend school full-time, unless the student is excused from full-time attendance or meets certain exceptions. Parents/Caregivers are expected to ensure regular school attendance by their students. As provided in Regulation 3122, regular school attendance is necessary for mastery of the educational program provided to students. Daily attendance and active participation in each class are critical parts of the learning process. Excessive absenteeism, whether excused or unexcused, has a negative impact on academic achievement and graduation and can increase drop-out rates.
Students are expected to attend all classes each day. Teachers shall keep an accurate record of absences and tardiness. Students will be marked absent when they have an absence for any full class period. As used in this handbook, an “absence” means a student is (a) not physically present on school grounds, and (b) not participating in the following activities at an approved location: instruction, any instruction-related activity, or any other district or school approved activity that is regulated by an instructional/academic accountability system, such as participation in District-sponsored sports. A “full-day absence” is when a student is marked absent for fifty-percent or more of their scheduled day. A ”tardy” is non-attendance for less than a full class period.
Parents/Caregivers will be informed when their student(s) misses one or more periods. Students participating in a co/extra-curricular activity must be in attendance in all periods, as assigned, to be eligible for participation in the activity or event. The District has resources available to support parents/caregivers and students who may be experiencing excessive absences. Please contact your school principal for assistance if there are barriers to your student’s attendance.
Excused absences are absences due to:
- Physical 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-patient treatment for chemical dependency or mental health);
- Family emergency, including, but not limited to, a death or illness in the family;
- Religious/cultural purpose including observance of a religious/cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction;
- Court, judicial proceeding or serving on a jury;
- Post-secondary, technical school or apprenticeship program visitation, or scholarship interview;
- State-recognized search and rescue activities consistent with RCW 225.055;
- Absence directly related to the student’s homeless or foster care/dependency status;
- Absences related to deployment activities of a parent/caregiver or legal guardian who is an active duty member consistent with RCW 705.010;
- 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 a qualifying “course of study” activities as defined in WAC 392-121-107;
- Absences due to student safety concerns, including absences related to threats, assault, or bullying;
- Absences due to a student’s migrant status;
- An approved activity that is consistent with District policy and is mutually agreed upon by the principal (or designee) and a parent, caregiver, or emancipated youth; and
- Absences due to the student's lack of necessary instructional tools, including internet access or connectivity.
In the event of emergency school facility closure due to COVID-19, other communicable disease outbreak, natural disaster, or other event when the District is required to provide synchronous and asynchronous instruction, absences due to the following reasons must be excused:
- Absences related to the student's illness, health condition, or medical appointments due to COVID-19 or other communicable disease;
- Absences related to caring for a family member who has an illness, health condition, or medical appointment due to COVID-19, other communicable disease, or other emergency health condition related to school facility closures;
- Absences related to the student's family obligations during regularly scheduled school hours that are temporarily necessary because of school facility closures, until other arrangements can be made; and
- Absences due to the student's parent/caregiver's work schedule or other obligations during regularly scheduled school hours, until other arrangements can be made.
A school principal or designee has the authority to determine if any absence meets the above criteria for an excused absence. The principal or designee may only grant permission for a student’s absence providing such absence does not adversely affect the student’s educational process. If a student has excessive excused absences, the school may require documentation for absences to continue to be excused.
Verification: Parents/Caregivers are expected to notify the school office by 8:00 a.m. of the day following the absence or send a signed note of explanation with the student upon the student’s return to school. Adult students or emancipated students must notify the school office of their absences with a signed note of explanation. If attendance is taken electronically, either for a course conducted online or for students physically within the District, an absence defaults to unexcused until such time as an excused absence may be verified by a parent/caregiver or emancipated or adult student. See Procedure 3122P for details.
Unexcused Absences are any absence from school that does not meet one of the criteria above for an excused absence.
- Each full-day unexcused absence shall be followed by a warning letter or telephone call to the parent/caregiver.
- At some point after the second full-day unexcused absence and before the seventh 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.
- After three full-day unexcused absences within any month, a conference will be scheduled with the parent/caregiver, student, and principal/designee. If the parent/caregiver does not attend the conference, the conference may be conducted with the student and principal/designee. If the parent/caregiver does not attend, they will be notified of the steps taken to eliminate or reduce the student’s absences.
- Not later than the student’s fifth full-day unexcused absence within any month, the District will enter into an agreement with the student and parents/caregivers that establishes school attendance requirements, refer the student to a community engagement 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.
- After the student’s seventh full-day unexcused absence within any month and no later than the student’s fifteenth full-day unexcused 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/caregiver, student, or parent/caregiver and student.
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.
Upon returning to school from an absence, students must obtain an admit slip at the main office and present it to each teacher that day.
- Students who become ill at school must check out with the attendance office even if the health attendant speaks with a parent/caregiver. Failure to do so could result in an unexcused absence and disciplinary action, however, a student may not be suspended or expelled for absences or tardies.
- 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.
- Procedures outlined in the BECCA Bill will be followed as unexcused absences occur. See Procedure 3122P.
- Disciplinary action may be assessed for truancy, however, a student may not be suspended or expelled for absences or tardies.
- Students are encouraged to contact their teachers via email and Canvas to get make up work. Arrangements can be made with teachers to pick up work through the attendance office. Homework/make up work will not be gathered for students missing school because of personal choice or truancy.
- Students are expected to take care of attendance business during their own time such as before school, during break, at lunch or after school.
Excessive Excused Absences
For many valid reasons, students are absent from school. However, even with communication from parent(s)/caregiver(s), absences add up and can significantly impact a student’s opportunity and progress towards learning. Building administrators will work proactively with families to understand the cause of the excessive excused absences and discuss ways to ensure access to education for the student. Once a student reaches fifteen (15) excused absences in a year, building administrators may require a doctor’s note in order to excuse all future absences. Absences not excused by a doctor’s note, may be marked unexcused.
Extended Illness or Chronic Health Condition
If a student is confined to home or hospital for an extended period, the family and school counselor should work together to 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 that cannot be accomplished outside of class, the student may be required to take an incomplete or withdraw from the class without penalty and/or make up the course at another time. These plans should be arranged with the family, school counselor and administrator. 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.
Family Access provides parents/caregivers and students on-line access to student information including attendance. Parents/Caregivers and students are encouraged to monitor attendance records regularly using Family Access and contact the attendance office for discrepancies. For questions on logging in to Family Access, view the instructions on the Family Access webpage or contact the school registrar.
Make Up Work
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 is 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 (guest speakers, graded class discussions, etc.). Should this type of work occur on a date when a student has an excused absence, the assignment may be excused and not counted in the student’s grade OR an alternative assignment may be provided per the teacher’s decision.