Policy Details Page

Policy 3122

PURPOSE: Tacoma Public Schools believes in the importance of regular attendance to ensure student educational success. Through partnership with families, local agencies and the community, we work with students to identify barriers, provide resources and encourage reengagement into the learning environment. Through intervention and providing support services for students, their families and/or guardians, this reinforces the link between academic success and regular school attendance.  In order to prevent unnecessary involvement of the juvenile justice system,  the District will first exhaust multi-tiered supports and interventions before filing a truancy petition.

Regular school attendance is  important, however, at times, it may be necessary for student to be absent from class. The following principles shall govern the development, administration,  monitoring and data collection of attendance procedures within the District:


Definition of Instruction

Synchronous Online Instruction- real time education between the student and a certificated teacher or District staff with live, two-way interactive communication.

Asynchronous Instruction- learning prepared by a certificated teacher or District staff not physically in a school or classroom setting without live two-way interactive communication.

In-person Instruction- real-time learning prepared by a certificated teacher or District staff physically in a school or classroom setting with live interactive communication.


Definition of Absence

In-person instruction

  1. Not physically present on school grounds;
  2. Not participating in the following activities at an approved location:
    1. Instruction;
    2. Any instruction related activity; or
    3. c. Any other District or school-approved activity that is regulated by an instructional/academic accountability system, such as in District sponsored sports.

Synchronous online and asynchronous instruction

  1. A student is absent from synchronous online instruction when the student does not log in to the synchronous meeting/class.
  2. A student is absent from asynchronous instruction when there is no evidence that the student accessed the planned asynchronous activity.
  3. Evidence of student participation in asynchronous activities must occur daily, within a twenty-four (24) hour time frame of when the participation was planned or expected. Evidence may include, but not limited to:
    1. Daily login(s) to the learning management system; or
    2. Interaction with teacher or District staff verifying attendance (messages, chats or emails); or
    3. Evidence of participation in an assignment or task.


Daily Attendance Tracking

The District has the responsibility of taking attendance of enrolled students whether the instruction is in-person, synchronous online, or asynchronous. The District will advise the parent or guardian of the benefits of regular attendance, consequences of truant students, and the role of the District when students do not attend instruction. Upon student’s enrollment into the District, parent or guardian will be informed of attendance expectations, responsibilities and will agree to abide by the laws and rules of truancy.

When instruction is synchronous online or asynchronous, secondary schools must take attendance daily in each course with planned instruction, and elementary must take attendance at least twice a day.

The District will report student absences to the office of the superintendent of public instruction through the designated data reporting system.

Excused Absences

  1. Illness, physical or mental health condition or medical appointment (including, but not limited to) medical, counseling, dental, optometry, pregnancy, in-patient/out-patient treatment for chemical dependency or mental health for the student or person legally responsible for the student;
  2. Family emergency (including, but not limited to) a death or illness in the family;
  3. Religious or cultural purpose including observance of a religious or cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction;
  4. Court, a judicial proceeding, court-ordered activity, or jury service;
  5. Post-secondary, technical school or apprenticeship program visitation or scholarship interview;
  6. State-recognized search and rescue activities consistent with RCW 28A.225.055;
  7. Absence directly related to the student’s homeless or foster care dependency status;
  8. Absences related to deployment activities of a parent or legal guardian who is an active duty member consistent with RCW 28A.705.010;
  9. 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 defined by WAC 392-121-107;
  10. Absences due to student safety concerns, including absences related to threats, assaults, or bullying;
  11. Absences due to the student’s migrant status;
  12. Absences due to an approved activity that is consistent with District policy and is mutually agreed upon by the principal or designee and parent, guardian, or emancipated youth;
    1. Absences related to student enrichment programs or events shall be considered excused (including, but not limited to) civic engagement, speaking activities or leadership groups;
  13. Absences due to the student’s inability to access necessary instructional tools, including internet access or connectivity;


Emergency School Closure

In the event of emergency school closure or quarantine due to COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, outbreaks, pandemic, natural disasters, or other event when the District is required to provide synchronous online or asynchronous instruction, the following absences will be excused:.

  1. Absences related to the student’s illness, physical or mental health condition, or medical appointments due to COVID-19 or other communicable diseases;
  2. Absences related to caring for a family member or guardian who has an illness, physical or mental health condition, or medical appointment due to COVID-19, other communicable diseases, quarantine or other emergency health condition related to the school closure;
  3. Absences related to the student’s family or guardian’s obligations during regularly scheduled school hours that are temporarily necessary because of school closures until other arrangements can be made;
  4. Absences due to the student’s parent’s or guardian’s work schedule or other obligations during regularly scheduled school hours until other arrangements can be made.

The District may define additional categories for excused absences. The school administrator or designee has the authority to determine if an absence meets the excused criteria.


Missed Assignments

If an absence is excused, the student will be permitted to make up all missed assignments outside of class under reasonable conditions and time limits established by the appropriate teacher or designee; if a student misses a participation-type class, they can request an alternative assignment that aligns with the learning goals of the activity missed.  The District will provide supports to help the student catch-up.

Unexcused Absences

If the student is absent and does not meet any excused criteria, including under the emergency school closure section or administrator/District designee approved activity, the student is considered unexcused absent.

A student is absent when missing 50 percent or more of the school day from in-person, synchronous online, or asynchronous instruction.


Tardies will not be counted or combined into absences for the purpose of filing a truancy petition.


Multitiered System of Support (MTSS) for Attendance

The District will implement a multitiered system of support for attendance to address barriers, interventions and best practices to reduce absenteeism and truancy in accordance with WAC 392-401-045 including but not limited to:

  1. Monitoring daily attendance data for all students who are absent, whether the absence is excused or unexcused;
  2. A process to contact families and verify current contact information for each enrolled student that includes multiple attempts and modalities in the parent's home language;
  3. Differentiated supports that address the barriers to attendance and participation that includes universal supports for all students and tiered interventions for students at-risk of and experiencing chronic absence, including school and district attendance or engagement teams, connecting to community resources, and community engagement boards; and
  4. A process for outreach and reengagement for students who have been withdrawn due to nonattendance and there is no evidence that the student is enrolled elsewhere. This outreach and reengagement process must include:
    1. A school and/or district point person/people to maintain the list, keep it updated, and coordinate the outreach;
    2. School or district staff assigned to conduct the outreach and attempts at reengagement in coordination with community partners or other programs;
    3. Multiple methods of communication and outreach in a language or mode of
    4. communication that the parent understands including phone calls, texts, letters, and home visits;
    5. Referral to community-based organizations;
    6. Documentation of the attempts to reach student and family; and
    7. Follow the required steps to address unexcused absences in chapter 28A.225 RCW, including early communication to parents, holding parent conferences and administering a truancy screener to understand the underlying reasons for the absences, and providing evidence-based or best practice interventions, even if the student has been withdrawn due to nonattendance.


Truancy Petitions Due to Absenteeism

The District wants to ensure that students, their families and/or guardians receive appropriate support for student attendance.  The District does not intend to create additional barriers for students who are experiencing attendance struggles.  As an additional intervention before filing a truancy petition, the District shall use an Attendance Support Team, modeled after the Community Engagement Board in RCW 28A.225.025 to identify barriers to school attendance.

If school implemented interventions are not successful, including exhausting multi-tiered supports and the Attendance Support Team, only then shall the District file a truancy petition with the juvenile court alleging a violation of RCW 28A.225.010 by the parent/guardian, student or parent/guardian and student no later than the seventh (7) unexcused absence within any month during the current school year or upon the fifteenth (15) unexcused absence during the current school year.

The Superintendent will enforce the District’s attendance Policies and will develop Regulations relating to student attendance.


Cross References:

  • Policy 3241 - Student Discipline 
  • Policy 3231 - Compulsory Attendance 

Legal References:

  • RCW 13.34.300 Failure to cause juvenile to attend school as evidence under neglect petition
  • RCW 28A.225 Compulsory School Attendance
  • RCW 28A.225.025 Community Engagement Boards - Membership Duties 
  • WAC 392-401 Definition of Absence, Excused and Unexcused
  • WAC 392-400 Student Discipline 
  • Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1113

Adoption Date: 6/22/2000
Revised Date: 10/24/2007, 9/01/2016, 10/14/2021

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