Attendance

Policy 3121, 3122

State law and district policies and regulations require daily and punctual attendance of all students, unless officially excused. Parents and students are responsible for assuring attendance. Parents must provide the school with a valid reason for an absence before it can be excused. The following constitute valid reasons for excused absences: a personal illness; health condition or medical or dental appointment; an appearance in court when required by law; a disciplinary action (i.e., short- term suspension, long-term suspension that does not result in loss of grades or credits or emergency expulsion); religious observance; a family emergency approved by the principal; school-approved activities; and a planned family activity which has been pre-approved by the principal. In all cases, the school principal determines whether an absence is excused or unexcused.

The school will inform the parent/guardian upon the first occasion of a student’s unexcused absence. Upon the third occasion of an unexcused absence, the school will schedule a conference with the parent(s)/ guardian(s). Data-informed steps will be taken to attempt to eliminate or reduce the student’s absences.

If a student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a Section 504 plan, the school will schedule an IEP or Section 504 team meeting. The conference or Section 504/IEP team meeting is not required if prior notice is given to the school or a doctor’s note is provided, and an academic plan is in place so the child does not fall behind.

In accordance with the state’s mandatory attendance laws, if a student is absent without excuse seven times within a month or 10 times within a school year, the school district will file a petition with the juvenile court. Any parent found to have violated the law may be fined up to $25 per day of unexcused absence from the school, and the student will be ordered to attend school. The court may also order the parent/guardian to provide community service at the student’s school in lieu of imposing a fine. A student who fails to comply with a court order to attend school may be found in contempt of court and may be placed in juvenile detention or receive alternative sentencing from the court.

The policy is available from the Public Information Office, 253-571-1015, on the district’s website at tacomaschools.org. To obtain a copy, you may also contact the Office of Secondary Education at 253-571-1191, or the Office of Elementary Education at 253-571-1032. Absences may adversely affect a student’s grade if the teacher (a) has shown a relationship between attendance and instructional goals and objectives of the course; (b) advised the student and parent(s)/ guardian(s) in writing and by posting at the beginning of the year; and (c) obtained approval from principal for guidelines to be used in classes in which attendance may adversely affect grades or credits. (Policy 3122, Regulation 3122R, Chapter 28A.225 RCW)

The District reserves the right to assign students to attend particular schools or programs for certain specific reasons in the process identified in Regulation 3131R.

Any law enforcement officer authorized to make arrests can take a truant student into custody without a warrant and must then deliver the student to the parent or to school. (Policy 3121). The District and its School Board will be revising District Policy/ Regulation 3121 and/or 3122 / 3122R in response to the requirements of Second Substitute House Bill 2449, signed by the governor on April 1, 2016, and effective June 9, 2016. Copies of the updated policy and regulations, as well as information on the benefits of regular school attendance, potential effects of excessive absenteeism on academic achievement and dropout rates, the District’s expectations of parents to ensure regular school attendance, resources available to assist the child and parents, the roles and responsibilities of the school, and the consequences of truancy, will be provided to families and students.