Washington law requires children from age 8 to 17 to attend a public school, private school, or 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.
Unexcused absences may be an early warning sign for unaddressed problems and future academic failure. When youth fail to attend school, they are considered truant.
Education has the potential to affect our children for the rest of their lives. Working together, we can design a plan to keep your child in school. In Clark County, school districts, the Juvenile Court, and Education Service District 112 have joined efforts to assist students in improving their attendance through an array of truancy interventions, including Truancy Workshops, the Clark County Truancy Project, Community Truancy Boards and the Truancy Mentoring Program.
The School Process
If a student has unexcused absences, this law requires that schools and school districts take the following actions:
One Unexcused Absence: The school must inform the parent when there is one unexcused absence. This is often done by a phone call home.
Two Unexcused Absences: After the second unexcused absence, the school is required to schedule a meeting with the parent/legal guardian and student to discuss the causes of the unexcused absences and find solutions to prevent further absences. This is a team effort.
Five Unexcused Absences within 30 days: The school must enter into a written truancy agreement with the family, where the parent, student and school agree on the necessary steps to resolve the student’s attendance problem.
Seven Unexcused Absences (during a month) or Ten Unexcused Absence (within a school year): The school district will file a petition in juvenile court to order the student to attend school. Schools must send the student a notice of the truancy court petition by certified mail with return receipt or by in-person delivery.The petition includes many important dates and deadlines that you and your child must not miss.
The Court Process
The first requirement of the court process for you and your child is to attend an educational workshop at the Juvenile Court. You and your child will meet with a truancy representative after attending the workshop to develop a plan to address barriers to your child’s attendance.
If your child continues to have unexcused absences, your school district representative will refer your child to the Clark County Truancy Project for further intervention.
If unexcused absences continue, the court will proceed with a truancy fact-finding court hearing. If the court determines that your child has continued to be truant, an order compelling school attendance will be entered.
If unexcused absences continue after the entry of the order compelling school attendance, the student and/or parent can be summoned back to court for a contempt hearing. If the student is found in contempt, the court may order consequences such as writing a report, obtaining a drug/alcohol evaluation, doing community service or spending time in juvenile detention.
The student is represented by an attorney at the contempt court hearings. A parent held in contempt can be fined $25 for each day their child has an unexcused absence.
|Clark County Truancy Manual|
|Notice of Hearing|
|Order to Substitute|