Attendance Law and Policy
To combat the effects of chronic absences, the state of Washington attendance law requires greater accountability for school districts and parents alike. Some of those changes include mandatory meetings when scholars have several absences (even excused absences), an improved system for tracking absences and interventions, adherence to state definitions of excused/unexcused absences, the forming of a Community Engagement Board, needs assessments for chronically absent middle and high school scholars and district forms to document prearranged absences.
How do I excuse my child’s absence?
Excused absences and tardies must be verified by a parent or guardian within two (2) business days of the absence.
You can send a note of explanation with your student to turn in to his or her school’s attendance office, or contact the school to excuse the absence. To prearrange an absence, contact your child’s school prior to the absence.
There are a number of different reasons why students miss school. WAC 392-401 defines which of these reasons qualify as excused daily absences and which are unexcused. Any absence that is not verified by a parent or guardian per FWPS policy is considered unexcused.
After five (5) consecutive days of absence due to a health condition, or an accumulation of ten (10) absences during a single semester due to illness or a health condition, a note of explanation signed by a doctor may be required, unless the absence was pre-arranged.
If your child has a chronic medical condition or illness that causes him or her to miss school frequently, please contact your school nurse to discuss whether there are accommodations or support that your child’s school can offer.
Excused and Unexcused Absence
Absences due to the following reasons must be excused:
- Illness, health condition or medical appointment (including, but not limited to, medical, counseling, dental, optometry, pregnancy, and in-patient or out-patient treatment for chemical dependency or mental health) for the student or person for whom the student is legally responsible;
- Family emergency including, but not limited to, a death or illness in the family;
- Religious or cultural purpose including observance of a religious or cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction;
- Court, judicial proceeding, court-ordered activity, or jury service;
- Post-secondary, technical school or apprenticeship program visitation, or scholarship interview;
- State-recognized search and rescue activities consistent with RCW 28A.225.055;
- Absence directly related to the student's homeless or foster care/dependency status;
- Absences related to deployment activities of a parent or legal guardian who is an active duty member consistent with RCW 28A.705.010;
- Absences due to suspensions, expulsions or emergency expulsions imposed pursuant to chapter 392-400 WAC if the student is not receiving educational services and is not enrolled in qualifying "course of study" activities as defined in WAC 392-121-107;
- Absences due to student safety concerns, including absences related to threats, assaults, or bullying;
- Absences due to a student's migrant status; and
- An approved activity that is consistent with district policy and is mutually agreed upon by the principal or designee and a parent, guardian, or emancipated youth.
A school principal or designee has the authority to determine if an absence meets the above criteria for an excused absence. Districts may define additional categories or criteria for excused absences.
Unexcused Daily Absences
Any absence from school is unexcused unless it meets one of the criteria above for an excused absence.
Is My Child Too Sick to Go to School?
Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether you should send your child to school if they do not feel well. If your child has any of the symptoms listed below, please keep him or her home:
Thick mucus or pus draining from the eye or the eye is red, waters profusely and feels irritated-please contact health care provider or clinic
Temperature of 100 degrees F or higher in the past 24 hours
Greenish Nose Discharge and/or Cough
Contact your health care provider for appropriate treatment
Especially with fever or swollen glands in neck, please contact your health care provider or clinic. If strep throat, the student may return to school after on antibiotics for 24 hours and feeling better.
Two or more watery stools in a 24-hour period, especially if the child acts or looks ill.
Vomiting two or more times within the past 24 hours
Body rash, especially with fever or itching – student can return when rash has cleared or has physician diagnosis and treatment.
If you are not sure whether your student is well enough to attend school, contact your school nurse.