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Attendance and Truancy

Attendance

We know that there are a wide range of reasons that students are absent from school, from health concerns to transportation challenges.  Whatever the reason, our building staff are prepared to help with the challenges and getting your student to school regularly and on-time.

State Law requires that we track attendance daily, to notice when your student is missing from class, communicate with you to understand why they were absent, and to identify barriers and supports available to overcome challenges facing you and your student. 

Student Annual Attendance Letter 2022-2023

School Policies and State Laws

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.

Did You Know?

  • Starting in kindergarten, too many absences (excused and unexcused) can cause children to fall behind in school.
  • Missing 10 percent (or about 18 days) increases the chance that your student will not read or master math at the same level as their peers.
  • Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks.
  • Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
  • Absences can affect the whole classroom if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.
  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
  • By being present at school, your child learns valuable social skills and has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with other students and school staff.
  • Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with schoolwork, dealing with a bully, or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
  • By 9th grade, regular and high attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.

What Can You Do?

  • Set a regular bedtime and morning routine.
  • Prepare for school the night before, finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Find out what day school starts and make sure your child has the required immunizations.
  • Don’t let your student stay home unless they are truly sick. Keep in mind complaints of a stomachache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home.
  • Avoid appointments and extended trips when school is in session.
  • Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or another parent.
  • Keep track of your student’s attendance. Missing more than 9 days could put your student at risk of falling behind.
  • Talk to your student about the importance of attendance.
  • Talk to your student’s teachers if you notice sudden changes in behavior. These could be tied to something going on at school.
  • Encourage meaningful afterschool activities, including sports and clubs

What is the BECCA Law?

The BECCA Law, established in 1995, requires that a student has no more that seven (7) unexcused absences in a month or fifteen (15) during a school year.  Originally, the law covered 8-18-year-old youth but was expanded in July 1999 to include parents of 6 and 7-year-olds as well, and in February 2012, the upper age was reduced to 17. 

If a student meets this criterion, the district or the student’s home school, is mandated to file a truancy petition with the Juvenile Court.  If the student does not return to school or has even one more unexcused absence, the district and/or school building will refer the student to the Community Engagement Board.

History and Programs:

In 1993, a 13-year-old runaway named Rebecca Hedman (BECCA) was murdered in Spokane, far from her home in Tacoma.  In 1995, a group of parents and legislators came together and successfully pushed for and passed legislation to prevent situations like this from happening again.  The so-called “BECCA Bill” addresses several areas of public policy, including those affecting truant, at-risk, and runaway youth.

Truancy

All youth between the ages of 8-18 are required to attend school every day.  When these youth fail to attend their assigned schools, they are considered truant.

At-Risky Youth (ARY)

An at-risk youth is defined by statute as a child under the age of 18 who meets at least one of the following three requirements:

  • Is absent from home for at least 72 consecutive hours without parental consent; or
  • Is beyond parental control such that the child’s behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or
  • Has a substance abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges relating to the substance abuse.

The purpose of the At-Risk Youth program is to allow parents a process in which they can request and receive assistance and support from the court in maintaining the care, custody, and control of their child.

Child In Need of Services (CHINS)

A child in need of services is defined by statute as a child under the age of 18 who meets at least one of the following three requirements:

  • Is beyond parental control such that the child’s behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or other person; or
  • Has been reported to law enforcement as absent without consent for at least 24 consecutive hours from the parent’s home, a crisis residential center, an out-of-home placement, or a court-ordered placement on two or more separate occasions and has exhibited a serious substance abuse problem or behaviors that create a serious risk of hard to the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or
  • Is in need of necessary services, including food, shelter, health care, clothing, educational, or services designed to maintain or reunite the family and lacks access to or has declined to utilize these services, and who parents have evidenced continuing but unsuccessful efforts to maintain the family structure or are unable or unwilling to continue efforts to maintain the family structure.

The purpose of CHINS is to get a court order requiring temporary placement (for up to nine months) of a child in a residence other than the home of his/her parent.  The need for placement must be based on a serious conflict between the parent and the child and cannot be resolved as long as the child remains at home.  A child, parent, or DCYF may file a CHINS petition

Truancy Process

First page of the PDF file: KCTruancyFlowChartmonroe-dowellrev3-9-2022

Community Engagement Board

What is the Community Engagement Board?

  • A board of awesome community members that have received specific training, that meets with students and families to identify barriers to attendance and recommend resources and services for improving attendance
  • The Community Engagement Board (CEB) acts as a bridge between student success and the community
  • Provide a supportive space for students with ongoing truancy issues to openly discuss and identify the reasons behind their truancy
  • The CEB works in partnership with local community partners, volunteers, district staff and the local juvenile court to intervene with students’ ongoing attendance barriers
  • Boards are highlighted as a key intervention in the truancy process.  According to our State Legislature, the CEB is a preferred means of intervention

The Community Engagement Board are held at the school district administration office.  They typically occur twice a month between the hours of 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.  The CEB are held both virtually and in-person.

The purpose of the Community Engagement Board is to provide an opportunity for the student and parent/guardian to meet with concerned community members and to be introduced to new ideas and resources with the purpose of improving student school engagement. 

If you have questions about your specific truancy board time and date, please contact the Community Engagement Board Specialist via email at: stewarta@skschools.org.

We are always seeking volunteers for our Community Engagement Boards; if you are interested, please contact us!

Community Resources