Attendance is Important
Good attendance is important in all grade levels, from Pre-K through 12th grade. Students who attend regularly are much more likely to be at or above grade-level standards. Poor attendance at any grade increases the likelihood of falling behind academically. Students who miss 10% or more of the school year are defined as being chronically absent. Students who are chronically absent have a greater risk of falling behind one or more grade levels. A student can be chronically absent by missing two or more days a month. New state laws regarding attendance now require schools to address both excused and unexcused absences.
Plan for good attendance by helping your child to stay healthy. Children who get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced, nutritious diet, wash their hands regularly, and are up to date on their immunizations miss less school. Work with doctors to schedule appointments outside of school hours or on non-school days. Make a back-up plan with friends and relatives to help get your child to school if an unplanned situation arises. If there are other barriers causing your child to miss school, please reach out to your school to schedule a meeting to discuss.
It is important that you understand our school policies and procedures, as well as Washington State Law, to ensure your child is successful in school. State law for mandatory attendance, called the Becca Bill, requires children from age 8 to 17 to attend a public school, private school, or a district-approved home school program. Children that are 6- or 7-years-old are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if parents enroll their 6- or 7-year-old, the student must attend full-time. Youth who are 16 or older may be excused from attending public schools if they meet certain requirements. Please contact Student and Family Support Services if you want more information on the requirements.
Schools are required to take daily attendance and notify you when your student has an unexcused absence.
If your student has three unexcused absences in one month, state law (RCW 28A.225.020) requires we schedule a conference with you and your student to identify the barriers and supports available to ensure regular attendance. The district is obligated to develop a plan that may require an assessment to determine how to best meet the needs of your student and reduce absenteeism.
Not later than the seventh unexcused absence in a month, the school is required to initiate a written agreement with the parent to improve student’s attendance. For secondary students, after the second absence and before the seventh absence, the school is required to conduct an assessment with the student to determine barriers to the student’s ability to attend school. After the seventh unexcused absence in a month, the school may refer the student to the community engagement board or truancy workshops or file a petition to juvenile court. If your student has an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 Plan the team that created the plan needs to reconvene.
If your student has seven unexcused absences in any month or before the fifteenth unexcused absences within the school year, we are required to file a petition with the Juvenile court, alleging a violation of RCW 28A.225.010, the mandatory attendance laws. The petition may be automatically stayed and your student and family may be referred to a Community Truancy Workshop, or you and your student may need to appear in Juvenile Court If your student continues to be truant you may need to go to court.
For more information about Washington’s Truancy law and the Kent School District’s Absenteeism Policy, please contact Student & Family Support Services at (253) 373-7235.