State law encourages or requires districts to address truancy or chronic absenteeism through the provision of comprehensive student support services.
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.225.020 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.225.026 Community truancy boards—Memoranda of understanding with juvenile courts—Designation of school district coordinators to address absenteeism and truancy—Community-wide partnerships.
(1) By the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, juvenile courts must establish, through a memorandum of understanding with each school district within their respective counties, a coordinated and collaborative approach to address truancy through the establishment of a community truancy board or, with respect to certain small districts, through other means as provided in subsection (3) of this section. (2) Except as provided in subsection (3) of this section, each school district must enter into a memorandum of understanding with the juvenile court in the county in which it is located with respect to the operation of a community truancy board. A community truancy board may be operated by a juvenile court, a school district, or a collaboration between both entities, so long as the agreement is memorialized in a memorandum of understanding. For a school district that is located in more than one county, the memorandum of understanding shall be with the juvenile court in the county that acts as the school district’s treasurer. (3) A school district with fewer than three hundred students must enter into a memorandum of understanding with the juvenile court in the county in which it is located with respect to: (a) The operation of a community truancy board; or (b) addressing truancy through other coordinated means of intervention aimed at identifying barriers to school attendance, and connecting students and their families with community services, culturally appropriate promising practices, and evidence-based services such as functional family therapy. School districts with fewer than three hundred students may work cooperatively with other school districts or the school district’s educational service district to ensure access to a community truancy board or to provide other coordinated means of intervention. (4) All school districts must designate, and identify to the local juvenile court and to the office of the superintendent of public instruction, a person or persons to coordinate school district efforts to address excessive absenteeism and truancy, including tasks associated with: Outreach and conferences pursuant to RCW 28A.225.018; entering into a memorandum of understanding with the juvenile court; establishing protocols and procedures with the court; coordinating trainings; sharing evidence-based and culturally appropriate promising practices; identifying a person within every school to serve as a contact with respect to excessive absenteeism and truancy; and assisting in the recruitment of community truancy board members. (5) As has been demonstrated by school districts and county juvenile courts around the state that have worked together and led the way with community truancy boards, success has resulted from involving the entire community and leveraging existing dollars from a variety of sources, including public and private, local and state, and court, school, and community. In emulating this coordinated and collaborative approach statewide pursuant to local memoranda of understanding, courts and school districts are encouraged to create strong community-wide partnerships and to leverage existing dollars and resources.
School Attendance Initiative
This document addresses intervention systems to address chronic absenteeism