Washington - Family Engagement on Chronic Absenteeism: Program requirements

Area: 
Program Requirement
Policy Type: 
regulation; statute
Summary: 

State law involves parents in responding to truancy or chronic absenteeism using non-punitive or supportive interventions.

Washington Administrative Code 392-400-233 Absenses, tardiness, and school meals.

(1) Students with one or more unexcused absences and subject to compulsory attendance pursuant to chapter 28A.225 RCW may be subject to corrective action reasonably calculated to modify the student's conduct. If a school district imposes corrective action on a student for one or more unexcused absences, the school district must:

  • (a) Provide notice to the student's parent(s) or guardian(s) in writing in English or, if different, the primary language of the parent(s) or guardian(s), that the student has failed to attend school without valid justification, and by other means reasonably necessary to achieve notice of such fact;
  • (b) Schedule a conference or conferences with the parent(s) or guardian(s) and the student at a time and place reasonably convenient to all persons included to analyze the causes for the student's absence, and to determine, by appropriate means, whether the student should be made a focus of concern for placement in special programs designed for his or her educational success; and
  • (c) Take steps to reduce the student's absence which include, where appropriate in the judgment of local school officials and where possible, discussed with the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), adjustments of the student's school program or school or course assignment or assisting the student or parent to obtain supplementary services that might ameliorate the cause(s) for the student's absence from school.

(2) A student's academic grade or credit in a particular subject or course may be adversely affected by reason of tardiness or absences only to the extent and upon the basis that:

  • (a) The student's attendance or participation is related to the instructional objectives or goals of the particular subject or course;
  • (b) The student's attendance or participation has been identified by the teacher pursuant to policy of the school district as a basis for grading, in whole or in part, in the particular subject or course; and
  • (c) The circumstances pertaining to the student's inability to attend school have been taken into consideration, including whether the tardiness or absences are directly related to the student's 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.

Revised Code of Washington 28A.225.020 School's duties upon child's failure to attend school.

(1) If a child required to attend school under RCW 28A.225.010 fails to attend school without valid justification, the public school in which the child is enrolled shall:

  • (a) Inform the child’s parent by a notice in writing or by telephone whenever the child has failed to attend school after one unexcused absence within any month during the current school year. School officials shall inform the parent of the potential consequences of additional unexcused absences. If the parent is not fluent in English, the school must make reasonable efforts to provide this information in a language in which the parent is fluent;
  • (b) Schedule a conference or conferences with the parent and child at a time reasonably convenient for all persons included for the purpose of analyzing the causes of the child’s absences after three unexcused absences within any month during the current school year. If a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference day is to take place within thirty days of the third unexcused absence, then the school district may schedule this conference on that day. If the child’s parent does not attend the scheduled conference, the conference may be conducted with the student and school official. However the parent shall be notified of the steps to be taken to eliminate or reduce the child’s absence; and
  • (c) At some point after the second and before the fifth unexcused absence, take data-informed steps to eliminate or reduce the child’s absences.
    • (i) In middle school and high school, these steps must include application of the Washington assessment of the risks and needs of students (WARNS) or other assessment by a school district’s designee under RCW 28A.225.026.
    • (ii) For any child with an existing individualized education plan or 504 plan, these steps must include the convening of the child’s individualized education plan or 504 plan team, including a behavior specialist or mental health specialist where appropriate, to consider the reasons for the absences. If necessary, and if consent from the parent is given, a functional behavior assessment to explore the function of the absence behavior shall be conducted and a detailed behavior plan completed. Time should be allowed for the behavior plan to be initiated and data tracked to determine progress.
    • (iii) With respect to any child, without an existing individualized education plan or 504 plan, reasonably believed to have a mental or physical disability or impairment, these steps must include informing the child’s parent of the right to obtain an appropriate evaluation at no cost to the parent to determine whether the child has a disability or impairment and needs accommodations, related services, or special education services. This includes children with suspected emotional or behavioral disabilities as defined in WAC 392-172A-01035. If the school obtains consent to conduct an evaluation, time should be allowed for the evaluation to be completed, and if the child is found to be eligible for special education services, accommodations, or related services, a plan developed to address the child's needs.

Revised Code of Washington 28A.225.018 Conferences to identify barriers to child's school attendance.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, in the event that a child in elementary school is required to attend school under RCW 28A.225.010 or 28A.225.015(1) and has five or more excused absences in a single month during the current school year, or ten or more excused absences in the current school year, the school district shall schedule a conference or conferences with the parent and child at a time reasonably convenient for all persons included 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. If a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference day is to take place within thirty days of the absences, the school district may schedule this conference on that day. To satisfy the requirements of this section, the conference must include at least one school 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.
(2) A conference pursuant to subsection (1) of this section 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.


Revised Code of Washington 28A.225.005 Information for students and parents.

(1) Each school within a school district shall inform the students and the parents of the students enrolled in the school about: 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 and guardians to ensure regular school attendance by the child; the resources available to assist the child and the parents and guardians; the role and responsibilities of the school; and the consequences of truancy, including the compulsory education requirements under this chapter. The school shall provide access to the information before or at the time of enrollment of the child at a new school and at the beginning of each school year. If the school regularly and ordinarily communicates most other information to parents online, providing online access to the information required by this section satisfies the requirements of this section unless a parent or guardian specifically requests information to be provided in written form. Reasonable efforts must be made to enable parents to request and receive the information in a language in which they are fluent. A parent must date and acknowledge review of this information online or in writing before or at the time of enrollment of the child at a new school and at the beginning of each school year.
(2) The office of the superintendent of public instruction shall develop a template that schools may use to satisfy the requirements of subsection (1) of this section and shall post the information on its web site.

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