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Suggestions for Parents/Guardians When Dealing With Truancy Procedures

State law, 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 who 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 school if they meet certain requirements.

  1. Contact the administrator of the school building, or the school district administrator responsible for attendance or truancy. Learn the school district’s supervisory chain of command, and try to resolve the problem at the level closest to the students involved.
  2. Obtain a copy of the district's policies and procedures regarding attendance and truancy. Attendance and truancy information is often contained in the student conduct section of a district’s policy manual, and is likely to be found in the Student Handbook issued by many schools. Some school districts place their policies on their Web sites.

    Another method of researching local policies and procedures is to contact the local juvenile court that manages the truancy petition process. Some of the Web sites that the court system has developed include:

  3. Determine how your child’s situation fits the attendance and truancy policies and procedures.
  4. If you feel that the district has not addressed procedures properly, inquire as to the appeal process.
  5. If you feel the district's policies or procedures are inadequate, inquire as to how they can be modified. Ultimately, the local school board and superintendent are responsible for policy development.
  6. Parent/guardian involvement in recommending changes to school district policies can be through local parent-school-community collaboration programs. The national Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and Washington State PTA is a viable method for productive problem-solving.
  7. Review the available policy, advocacy and research perspectives on truancy programs, including:

For more information

ACLU's Parent Guide to Truancy in Washington (PDF)

Washington State Office of the Education Ombudsman's Special Report on Harassment/Bullying in Public Schools (PDF)

Chronic absenteeism


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