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ZILLAH SCHOOL DISTRICT

IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school—and themselves. Your student can start building this habit in preschool so they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Consistent attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work.

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 school work, 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.

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. Youth who are 16 or older may be excused from attending public school if they meet certain requirements.  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.225

We, the school, are required to take daily attendance and notify you when your student has an unexcused absence.

If your student has two 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. 

In elementary school after five excused absences in any month, or ten or more excused absences in the school year, the school district is required to contact you to schedule a conference at a mutually agreeable, reasonable time with at least one district employee, to identify the barriers and supports available to you and your student. A conference is not required if your student has provided a doctor’s note, or pre-arranged the absence in writing, and the parent, student and school have made a plan so your student does not fall behind academically.

If your student has seven unexcused absences in any month or ten 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 Board, or you and your student may need to appear in Juvenile Court. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Set a regular bed time and morning routine.
  • Prepare for school the night before, finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Don’t let your student stay home unless they are truly sick. Keep in mind complaints of a stomach ache 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 students’ 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.