Attendance and Truancy

School Attendance, Absences and Truancy (Asistencia y Absentismo escolar en español)

A state law in Washington, called the “Becca Bill,” requires all children between ages 8 and 18 to attend school regularly. The law requires parents or legal guardians to make sure their children are in school regularly. Students can be in public school, private school or homeschool. The law requires that students are in school, full-time, every day, unless there is a valid excuse. If a student misses school without a valid excuse, the student might be considered “truant.” When a student is truant, schools are required to:

  • Notify the family;
  • Meet and work with the family and student to figure out why, and
  • Try different strategies to help improve the student's attendance.

If that doesn't work, a student and family can be referred to a Community Truancy Board or to court. If a student misses school a lot, even with a valid excuse, the law now requires schools to meet and work with the family to figure out why, and make a plan to help the student get to school regularly.  That is because missing school a lot or “chronic absenteeism” can make it hard for a student to keep up. It can also be a sign that a student might not be getting the supports they need. When we are talking about missing school, “a lot” can seem like “a little” – missing even just 2 days a month can add up to a big impact!

If getting your child to school every day has been a challenge, your school can help break down barriers and help your child build a new habit of attendance every day, all day, on time.  Check out OEO's FAQs to find out what may happen if a student continues to be absent, and ideas for getting back on track with regular attendance. If you need more help solving problems with attendance, please call! Visit our website at www.oeo.wa.gov, or call 1-866-297-2597.

What does the law require of Schools?

  • notify parents of the attendance rules and get a signature to show they received the notice
  • notify parents every time a student is absent,
  • meet with parents and students to find out why,
  • try different strategies to improve attendance, and in some cases,
  • refer a student and/or parent to a Community Truancy Board or to court.

What does the law require of Students?

  • in school,
  • on time,
  • every day, unless there is a valid excuse.