Students are expected to attend all assigned classes each day. School staff will keep a record of absence and tardiness, including a call log and/or a record of excuse statements submitted by a parent/guardian or, in certain cases, students, to document a student’s excused absences.
The following are valid excuses for absences and tardiness. Assignments and/or activities not completed because of an excused absence or tardiness may be made up in the manner provided by the teacher.
- Health condition
- Medical appointment
- Family emergency
- Religious purposes
- 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 28A.225.055
- Directly related to the student’s homeless status.
Participation in School-Approved Activity or Instructional Program
To be excused, an absence for participation in a school-approved activity or instructional program must be authorized by a staff member and the affected teacher must be notified prior to the absence unless it is clearly impossible to do so.
This category of absence will be counted as excused for purposes agreed to by the principal and the parent/guardian. An absence may not be approved if it causes a serious adverse effect on the student's educational progress. In participation-type classes (e.g., certain music and physical education classes) the student may not be able to achieve the objectives of the unit of instruction as a result of absence from class. In such a case, a parent or guardian-approved absence would have an adverse effect on the student's educational progress which would ultimately be reflected in the grade for such a course.
Parents shall submit a request at least a week prior to the absence(s) using the district form. The principal will review the student’s current academic levels and make a determination whether approving the absence would constitute a serious adverse effect on the student’s academic progress. If it is determined by the principal that it would not, the absence(s) will be considered excused.
A student, upon the request of his/her parent/guardian, may be excused for a portion of a school day to participate in religious instruction provided such is not conducted on school property or otherwise involves the school to any degree.
Absence Resulting from Disciplinary Actions
As required by law, students who are removed from a class or classes as a disciplinary measure or students who have been placed on short-term suspension will have the right to make up assignments or exams missed during the time they were denied entry to the classroom if the effect of the missed assignments will be a substantial lowering of the course grade.
Extended Illness or Health Condition
If a student is confined to home or hospital for an extended period, the school will arrange for the accomplishment of assignments at the place of confinement whenever practical. If the student is unable to do his/her 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.
Chronic Health Condition
Students with a chronic health condition which interrupts regular attendance may qualify for placement in a limited attendance and participation program. The student and his/her parent will apply to the principal, counselor or school nurse and a limited program will be written following the advice and recommendations of the student's medical advisor. The recommended limited program will must then be approved by the principal. Staff will be informed of the student's needs, though the confidentiality of medical information will be respected at the parent's request.
Reporting Absences to the School
When possible, the parent/guardian is expected to notify the school office on the morning of the absence by phone, email or written note and to provide an excuse for the absence. If no excuse is provided with the notification, or no notification is provided, the parent/guardian will submit an excuse via phone, email or written note upon the student’s return to school.
Adult students (those over eighteen) and emancipated students (those over sixteen who have been emancipated by court action) will notify the school office of their absences with a note of explanation.
Students fourteen years old or older who are absent from school due to testing or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease will notify the school of their absence with a note of explanation, which will be kept confidential. Students thirteen 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.
Making Up Missed Assignments for Excused Absences
If an absence is excused, the student shall be permitted to make up all missed assignments outside of class, under reasonable conditions and time limits established by the appropriate teacher, except that in participation-type class a student’s grade may be affected because of the student’s inability to make up the activities conducted during a class period.
Unexcused absences fall into two categories:
- Submitting an excuse which does not constitute an excused absence as defined previously.
- Failing to submit, whether by phone, in person, email or written any type of excuse statement signed by the parent, guardian or adult student. This type of absence is also defined as truancy.
Tracking Unexcused Absences
The District has a responsibility under state law to accurately track unexcused absences and excessive excused absences and to work with the student and parent to promote good school attendance.
Schools will use the following guidelines to notify parents/guardians prior to referring a student, parent, or student and parent to the King County Juvenile Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for violation of the state mandatory school attendance laws.
One Unexcused Absence
After one unexcused absence in a month, the school is required to inform the parent in writing or by phone.
Two Unexcused Absences
After two unexcused absences, the school is required to initiate a parent conference to improve the student’s attendance. During the conference with the principal or designee, student and parent the following should be considered:
- Adjusting the student’s program.
- Providing more individualized instruction.
- Transferring student to another school if space is available.
- Assisting the student to obtain supplementary services that may eliminate or ameliorate the causes of the absences.
- Imposing other corrective actions that are deemed appropriate.
Five Unexcused Absences in a Month
After five unexcused absences in a month, the school is required to initiate a written agreement with the parent to improve the student’s attendance.
Seven Unexcused Absences in a Month or Ten Unexcused Absences in a School year
After seven unexcused absences in a month or ten unexcused absences in an academic year, the district will file a truancy petition with the juvenile court. The following truancy petition procedures apply only to a student under the age of seventeen at the time the petition is originally filed.
- The student has unexcused absences in the current school year. While petitions must be filed if the student has seven or more unexcused absences within any one month, or ten or more unexcused absences in the current school year, a petition may be filed earlier. In addition, unexcused absences accumulated in another school or school will be counted when preparing the petition.
- Attesting that actions taken by the school district have not been successful in substantially reducing the student’s absences from school.
- Court intervention and supervision are necessary to assist the school district to reduce the student’s absences from school.
Tardies and Excessive Excused Absences
Students are expected to be in class on time. When a student's excessive tardiness becomes frequent or disruptive, the student will be referred to the principal or designee. The school may enter into an attendance agreement with the student, parent, and/or student and parent and corrective actions may be imposed.
All sanctions imposed for failure to comply with the attendance policies and procedures will be implemented in conformance with state and district regulations regarding discipline or corrective action.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year. Significant learning gaps occur when a student is chronically absent. Therefore, when a student’s excused absences reach the chronic level the school principal or designee, after notifying the parent in writing, may require additional documentation to consider future absences excused.
Report an Absence
If your student is going to be absent or tardy, please call the TOP office at (253) 373-4080.