Call the attendance line to let us know of an absence, late arrival or early release. This line is available to take your messages 24 hours a day. Please give your student's name, the date(s) of the absence and the reason. You may also excuse the absence via e-mail. Please include your name, your child’s name, date, and reason for absence. Renton School District policy allows up to 48 hours after a student has returned from an absence to excuse the absence(s). An absence(s) cannot be excused after this 48 hour period and will remain on your child’s record as an unexcused absence. If we do not receive a morning call or e-mail, you will receive an automated call from School Messenger to verify your child’s whereabouts; this verification call is for your child’s protection. If a scholar is absent 50% of the day, they are absent the entire day.
- Only contacts in our system under your student’s name can pick him/her up and call in absences and early release.
- Please check in with the Attendance Office to ask who is on your student’s contact list, and update when necessary.
- Current attendance information can be checked via Skyward Family Access.
For students’ safety and the school’s liability, all students must check in to the attendance office when arriving late. ID verification, from a parent/guardian is required before a student leaves campus during the day. If someone else will be picking up your child during the school day, please send a note with the name of that person and a phone number where you can be contacted. If you do not notify us that a party other than a guardian or emergency contact will pick up your child, we will not allow your child to be released to that party. Having your student check in with the Attendance Office ensures we can give accurate information on whether your student made it to school safely and on time.
For students’ safety and the school’s liability, all students must check out of the attendance office when being released early. ID verification, from a parent/guardian is required before a student leaves campus during the day. If someone else will be picking up your child during the school day, please send a note with the name of that person and a phone number where you can be contacted. If you do not notify us that a party other than a guardian or emergency contact will pick up your child, we will not allow your child to be released to that party. Having your student check out with the Attendance Office ensures we can give accurate information on your student.
- A Pre-arranged absence permission form must be completed by the parent/guardian and signed by Administrator at least 48 hours prior to any student’s extended absence. If you know a student and family has an upcoming absence, please refer them to the attendance office.
- Extended leave of absence requests are considered on a case by case basis. Forms can be found below and should be completed a week before first day of extended absence.
Student Leave of Absence Forms
- Participation in a state, district or school approved activity or instructional program;
- Illness, health condition or medical appointment (including medical, dental, or optometry);
- Family emergency, including a death or illness in the family;
- Religious purpose including observance of a religious holiday or participation in religious instruction;
- Court, judicial proceeding or serving on a jury;
- College visitation or scholarship interview;
- Principal and parent, guardian, or emancipated youth mutually agreed upon approved activity; and
- Absence resulting from a disciplinary action (e.g., short-term or long-term suspension, emergency expulsion).
Any absence from school for an entire scheduled school day or a majority of a scheduled school day is unexcused unless it meets one of the criteria above for excused absences. Each unexcused absence will be followed by a notification call to the parent/guardian of the student. An official notification letter written in English or, to the extent practicable, in the primary language of the parents/guardians, will be sent to the parent/guardian of the student as follows:
- After the first unexcused absence in a calendar month;
- After the second unexcused absence in a calendar month;
- After the fifth unexcused absence in a calendar month;
- After the seventh unexcused absence in a calendar month; or
- After the tenth cumulative unexcused absence during the school year.
After two unexcused absences within any month, a conference will be held with the parent/guardian, student, and principal or designee to eliminate to reduce the student's absences.
Not later than the student’s fifth unexcused absence in a month, the district will enter into an agreement with the student and parents/guardians that establishes school attendance requirements; refer the student to a community truancy board; If such action is not successful, the district will file a petition and affidavit with the juvenile court alleging a violation of RCW 28A.225.010 by the parent, student or parent and student no later than the seventh unexcused absence within any month during the current school year or upon the tenth unexcused absence during the current school year.
Students with 20 consecutive full-day unexcused absences or non-attendance will be withdrawn.
Absences are considered excessive when they are deemed to be a major factor in a student’s lack of academic progress. Excessive absence from individual class(es): Students may be denied credit when their absence from a class exceeds building attendance limits as stipulated in individual school/student handbooks. The school will notify the student and parents/guardians in writing of the student’s pattern of excessive absence from class and the potential loss of credit. The notice will indicate that any further absence, or that a specified number of additional absences, will result in a loss of credit for that class.
In the event of additional absences and the resultant denial of credit, the student and/or parents/guardians may request, within three school days of their receipt of written notification of loss of credit, a hearing by the principal and/or the school’s attendance appeals board. The attendance appeals board will consider any mitigating evidence and/or explanations of the circumstances pertaining to the student’s inability to attend the class. Its decision will be provided in writing to the student and parents/guardians. Should the appeal at the building be denied, a formal appeal may be made as outlined in district policy related to the appeal process for disciplinary action.
- Excessive absences related to illness: Where medically-related absences are considered to be excessive (five or more consecutive days), the building principal or designee may require a parent/guardian to provide a note from their health care provider stating that the student was too ill to attend school during the days in question. If this note is not received by the school within five days of the principal’s or designee’s request, then the absences may be recorded as “unexcused”.
- Tardiness: Students are expected to be in class on time. When a student's tardiness is frequent and/or disruptive, the student will be referred to the principal or designee. If counseling, parent/guardian conferencing, and/or disciplinary action is ineffective in changing the student's attendance behavior, other disciplinary sanctions may be imposed, including suspension from class.
In Washington State, it is the law that all children between the age of 6 and 18 must attend school unless they attend a private school, are home schooled, have graduated, are 16 years of age and are lawfully and regularly employed with parent permission, or have acquired their GED. Washington's Compulsory Attendance Laws often referred to as "the BECCA Law" is intended to identify and eliminate barriers to attendance. The law is further intended to prevent school dropout and promote student safety by requiring schools to verify absences with parents and take steps if a student starts to accumulate absences. The law requires that students attend school and that parents send their students to school. If a student is absent for a reason that does not meet the criteria for an excused absence, or the parent does not verify that an absence is excused, the absence is considered “unexcused”. If a student accumulates unexcused absences, the law requires the school district to take the following actions:
Truancy is prohibited by Law: RCW 28A.225
- One (1) Unexcused Absences- Inform the student’s parent/guardian by a notice in writing or by telephone, in a language the parent is fluent, whenever the student has failed to attend school after one unexcused absence.
- Third (3rd) Unexcused Absence in a Month- Schedule conference with parent/guardian and student for the purpose of identifying barriers to the student’s regular attendance and supports and resources that may reduce or eliminate further absences from school.
- Between the Second (2nd) and Fifth (5th) Unexcused Absence - the district is required to take data-informed steps to eliminate or reduce student’s absences. Including, but not limited to offering an assessment to middle and high school students, convening the IEP team (if applicable), and informing parents of their rights to an evaluation for supplementary services and supports if applicable.
- Not later than the Seventh (7th) unexcused absences in a month, the district must do one of the following:
- Enter into an agreement w/student and parent establishing attendance requirements, OR
- Refer student to a Community Engagement Board (CEB), OR
- File and stay petition under subsection (1) of RCW 28A.225.030
- After the Seventh (7th) Unexcused Absence in a Month and no later than the Fifteenth (15) Unexcused Absence in a year - The law requires that the school district file a truancy petition in Superior Court against the student, parent or both. The Court must stay the petition and refer the student and family to a Community Engagement Board or other coordinated means of intervention. In King County students and families are offered a tiered menu of options to help address barriers to attendance in a holistic and restorative way.
Parents may contact the district’s Attendance Liaison, Marsha Linn at 425-204-2359 for further information, questions and resources.
 Please see RCW 28A.225.010 for full list of exceptions.
 This summary is not intended to capture the full detail of the law; please refer to RCW 28A.225 for the full extent of the requirements.
- Any absence that is or exceeds THREE (3) periods in length will be counted as a full day absence. This includes absences at the beginning or end of the school day.
- To be eligible to participate in after-school activities, students must have been on time to school and in attendance the full school day (all assigned classes).
- Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the school year. Half the students who miss 2-4 days in September go on to miss nearly a month of school.
- An estimated 5 million to 7.5 million U.S. students miss nearly a month of school each year.
- Absenteeism and its ill effects start early. One in 10 kindergarten and first grade students are chronically absent. Poor attendance can influence whether children read proficiently by the end of third grade or be held back.
- By 6th grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.
- Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school, or about 18 days in most school districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s just two days a month and that’s known as chronic absence.
- The academic impact of missing that much school is the same whether the absences are excused or unexcused. Suspensions also add to lost time in the classroom.
- Low-income students are four times more likely to be chronically absent than others often for reasons beyond their control, such as unstable housing, unreliable transportation and a lack of access to health care.
- When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for graduating.
- Attendance improves when schools engage students and parents in positive ways and when schools provide mentors for chronically absent students.
- Most school districts and states don’t look at all the right data to improve school attendance.They track how many students show up every day and how many are skipping school without an excuse, but not how many are missing so many days in excused and unexcused absence that they are headed off track academically.
Help Your Child Succeed in School: Build the habit of good attendance early. School success goes hand in hand with good attendance!
Did you know?
- Starting in kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school.
- Missing 10 percent (or about 18 days) can make it harder to learn to read.
- 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.
Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school—and themselves. Start building this habit in preschool so they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Good attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work.
What you can do to set a regular bed time routine?
- Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
- Find out what day school starts and make sure your child has the required shots.
- Introduce your child to her teachers and classmates before school starts to help her transition.
- Don’t let your child stay home unless she is 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.
- If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to teachers, school counselors, or other parents for advice on how to make her feel comfortable and excited about learning.
- Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or another parent.
- Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session.
Additional attendance resources for students and families.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% of the school year—about 18 days a year or just two days every month. Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten can predict lower test scores, poor attendance and retention in later grades, especially if the problem persists for more than a year.
Additional attendance resources for students and families.
Showing up for school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and more independent, families play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and on the job.
Did you Know?
Students should miss no more than 9 days of school each year to stay engaged, successful and on track to graduation.
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 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
- By 9th grade, regular and high attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.
- Missing 10 percent, or about 18 days, of the school year can drastically affect a student’s academic success.
- Students can be chronically absent even if they only miss a day or two every few weeks.
- Attendance is an important life skill that will help your child graduate from college and keep a job.
What You Can Do?
Make school attendance a priority
- Talk about the importance of showing up to school everyday, make that the expectation.
- Help your child maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
- Try not to schedule dental and medical appointments during the school day.
- Don’t let your child stay home unless truly sick. Complaints of headaches or stomach aches may be signs of anxiety.
Help your teen stay engaged
- Find out if your child feels engaged by his classes and feels safe from bullies and other threats. Make sure he/she is not missing class because of behavioral issues and school discipline policies. If any of these are problems, work with your school.
- Stay on top of academic progress and seek help from teachers or tutors if necessary. Make sure teachers know how to contact you.
- Stay on top of your child’s social contacts. Peer pressure can lead to skipping school, while students without many friends can feel isolated.
- Encourage meaningful after-school activities, including sports and clubs.
Communicate with the school
- Know the school’s attendance policy – incentives and penalties
- Talk to teachers if you notice sudden changes in behavior. These could be tied to something going on at school.
- Check on your child’s attendance to be sure absences are not piling up.
- Ask for help from school officials, after-school programs, other parents or community agencies if you’re having trouble getting your child to school.
Additional attendance resources for students and families.
Renton School District is making a special effort to ensure that all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly. Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school—and themselves. Consistent attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work.
Please take a minute to read this letter to your child(ren) and make a pledge together to attend school every day. Then, print, sign and have your child return this pledge to your school. Let's make school count, every day for every child!
1. Are districts required to record daily attendance?
Yes, school districts are required to take daily attendance for each student enrolled on any day when there is planned instructional activities. This includes days with in-person, remote, or hybrid instruction. Marking a student absent is not intended to be punitive and should not be used as such.
2. When should a student be marked absent from remote learning?
An absence from remote learning is when a student is not participating in planned instructional activities on a scheduled remote learning day. Student presence or participation may be asynchronous or synchronous. For the purposes of taking daily attendance, examples of what student participation could look like include, but are not limited to:
- Daily logins to learning management systems;
- Daily interactions with educators to acknowledge attendance (including messages, emails, phone calls or video chats); or
- Evidence of participation in a task or assignment.
Districts will need to adopt consistent practices for determining when students are recorded as attending during a scheduled day. Districts have broad authority to allow for the unique circumstances that their students, and the adults supporting them, face due to COVID-19. When developing their local definition of absence, districts should take into consideration that the intent of marking a student absent is to measure when a student is missing instructional time.
3. Do districts need to determine if a student’s absence is a full day absence?
Yes. Districts continue to be required under RCW 28A.225.020 to determine when a student misses a majority of their school day. This requirement in statute provides parameters around what counts as an unexcused absence for truancy purposes.
4. How many times per day should districts take attendance for elementary grades?
Districts have flexibility to determine how frequently they will track daily attendance or participation in elementary grades. This frequency should be based on their instructional plan and the requirement to determine if the student misses the majority of their school day. At a minimum, attendance must be determined once a day.
5. In secondary grades, if a student has multiple classes on a given day, does attendance need to be recorded for each class?
Yes. Attendance should be taken for each scheduled day and for each class that has planned instructional activities. Planned instructional activities can be synchronous or asynchronous, including participation in a task or assignment.
6. Can a student demonstrate attendance before or after regularly scheduled school hours?
Yes. A student participating in planned asynchronous learning before or after regularly scheduled school hours can be considered present and not absent. Daily planned instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. Districts should develop a plan where teachers can retroactively determine if students participated in asynchronous activities. OSPI supports this flexibility.
7. Can a district count a student as present for a class if they are unable to attend a live scheduled session?
Yes, districts can count a student present if they engage in asynchronous activities, in place of a live scheduled session. Districts are encouraged to provide this flexibility but are not required to provide this alternative.
8. Does a student have to attend a certain portion of a synchronous class or complete a whole assignment in order to be considered present?
No. Districts should adopt policies and practices which allow students to be marked present when a student attempts an assignment, logs on for a part of the class, or asynchronously demonstrates participation. Attendance should not be tied to completion. District monitoring of student engagement and mastery is outside the scope of the purpose of taking attendance.
9. Do districts need to adopt identical procedures on taking daily attendance for remote, in-person, and hybrid instructional modalities?
No. Districts have the flexibility to align attendance taking procedures with different instructional modalities while operating within the daily attendance taking requirement and the definitions of absence for in-person and remote learning. As the school year progresses with a goal of providing in-person instruction using the school reopening decision tree, this flexibility will be important. Districts will need to ensure attendance procedures can adapt throughout the planned and scheduled calendar.
10. What are the new reasons that a student can be considered excused?
The emergency rule specifies these new reasons that a students’ absence may be excused.
- Absences related to the student’s illness, health condition, or medical appointments due
- to COVID-19;
- Absences related to caring for a family member who has an illness, health condition, or medical appointment due to COVID-19;
- Absences related to the student’s employment or other family obligations during regularly scheduled school hours that are temporarily necessary due to COVID-19 until other arrangements can be made, including placement in a more flexible education program;
- Absences due to the student’s parent or guardian’s work schedule or other obligations
- during regularly scheduled school hours, until other arrangements can be made;
- Absences due to the student’s lack of necessary instructional tools, including internet
- broadband access or connectivity;
- Other COVID-19 related circumstances as determined between school and parent/guardian or emancipated youth.
See the emergency rule Chapter 392-401A WAC for the complete list of excused reasons.
11. How will the emergency rule impact apportionment?
Apportionment is based on enrollment on a monthly count day. Enrolled students are those who are enrolled and whose attendance record shows they have attended at least once in the prior 20 school days before the count day. Enrollment for apportionment reporting and daily attendance are two different measures. To claim a student for state funding for September, a student must have participated on or before the September count day, which is the fourth school day of September. For October through June, the count day is the first school day of the month. To claim a student for these months, enrolled students must have attended at some point within 20 consecutive school days prior to the count day.
12. Do districts have to withdraw or unenroll students based on lack of attendance or participation by the first count day in September or after 20 days?
Districts are not required to withdraw students from enrollment if they do not attend prior to the first count day in September or if they have 20 consecutive days of absences on or before the count day in later months. Districts are encouraged to maintain students in their local system even if they cannot claim the student for state funding. This enables districts to communicate with families, attempt to secure the student’s reengagement, and reduces the barrier of re-enrolling when the student does start attending again.
13. What is “non-truancy remote learning absence” and why did OSPI develop this new category?
The emergency rule creates the new category of absence “non-truancy remote learning absence” which shall be used to identify any absence from remote learning through October 4. This new category of absence is neither excused nor unexcused. Beginning October 5, districts will begin differentiating between excused and unexcused for absences on remote learning days. Districts should review their methods of communicating with families about attendance (e.g. letters, robocalls, family and student portals) to ensure that the “non-truancy remote learning absence” is not communicated as excused or unexcused. The purpose of this new category is to create flexibility at the beginning of the school year as students, families, and schools adjust to remote learning settings. Districts are still required to develop a tiered response system for all absences, including “non-truancy remote learning” absences.
14. How does the non-truancy remote learning absence affect the “20-day drop” rule or requirements for claiming students for state funding?
The non-truancy absence remote learning absence category is still an absence. In order to claim a student for state funding, they still need to have attended at least once prior to the September count day. However, as stated above, districts are not required to withdraw the student, but can keep them enrolled while ensuring they are not claimed for state funding.
15. What parts of the compulsory attendance laws (or Becca Bill requirements) are still required this fall?
Districts are still required to comply with Chapter 28A.225 RCW. For schools that are fully remote or where remote learning days are planned as part of a hybrid model, absences from remote learning will be considered non-truancy remote learning absences through October 4, 2020. This mean absences from remote learning, until October 4, are neither excused nor unexcused and therefore do not contribute to the accumulation of unexcused absences which require action under RCW 28A.225.020 or 28A.225.030. Districts are still required by Chapter 28A.225 RCW to do the following:
- Provide information about attendance to parents including district policies, supports and resources, and expectations of students. (RCW 28A.225.005)
- Convene team for youth in foster care or dependent pursuant to chapter 13.34 to review excessive or unexpected absences to determine causes of absences and support youth’s school work (RCW 28A.225.023)
- Daily notification of all absences
For students currently on a petition, districts should continue to partner with their local juvenile courts and follow expectations accordingly.
16. What is required as part of a tiered response system?
School districts must develop a tiered response system for all absences (WAC 392-401A-045), regardless of their type (excused, unexcused, or non-truancy remote). The tiered system is intended to address barriers to student participation and engagement in learning during the COVID epidemic. Tiered response systems must include:
- Monitoring daily attendance data for all absences
- A process to contact families and verify current contact information
- Daily notification of absences to parents;
- A process for outreach to determine student needs
- 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; and
See the emergency rule Chapter 392-401A WAC for complete details.
17. What strategies and resources does OSPI recommend for developing a tiered response system for all absences?
School districts should consider reviewing their existing strategies implemented under the compulsory attendance laws (Chapter 28A.225 RCW), which include:
- Hold parent conferences
- Administer an assessment to identify barriers to attendance
- Provide best practice interventions
- Refer the student to a community truancy board
- File a truancy petition
- Convene the IEP or 504 team
In addition, districts can access the following resources:
- Attendance Playbook: Smart Solutions for Reducing Chronic Absenteeism in the COVID Era (FutureEd)
- Guide to Using the Attendance Playbook: Smart Strategies for Reducing Chronic Absenteeism in the COVID Era (Attendance Works)
- Improving Attendance in a Remote Learning Environment (Center on PBIS)
- Multi-Tiered System for Attendance Resources (Attendance Works)
- Remote Learning Tiered Engagement Tool – Sample (High Desert ESD, Oregon)
- Family Connections Tool (High Desert, ESD)
Please visit the OSPI Attendance Webpage for additional resources on effective strategies to increase student attendance and participation.
18. If a student is absent because they need an accommodation due to a disability (IEP or 504), can that absence be excused?
Yes. Students with a 504 plan or IEP can be marked as an excused absence in accordance with the rules. If, however, a student with a 504 plan or IEP is in contact with their teacher or other district official regarding their potential need for an accommodation, they may not need to be given an excused absence. Educators should be willing to engage with families and the members of the student’s IEP and/or 504 teams to discuss how the student has a need for an accommodation that is not yet met. Districts may need to develop a plan where teachers can retroactively determine if students participated in asynchronous activities with accommodations. OSPI supports this flexibility and value for equitable access to learning.
19. How will this emergency rule impact absence data reporting to CEDARS?
School districts will continue to report all absences to CEDARS, including the temporary “non- truancy remote” absence. When reporting this temporary absence in CEDARS, districts will report it as “excused.” In their local student information systems, districts are encouraged to create a separate category to capture the “non-truancy remote learning” absence to ensure that these absences are not communicated as excused or unexcused to parents and students. Districts continue to be required under RCW 28A.225.020 to determine when a student misses a majority of their school day. The CEDARS manual and reporting guidance will be updated as soon as possible and will be available on OSPI's CEDARS webpage.
20. How long will the emergency rule be in effect?
The emergency rule will be in place temporarily for four months. OSPI intends to engage in rulemaking to make the rule permanent for the remainder of the school year.
21. What is chronic absence?
Chronic absence is when a student misses 10% or more of their school days, for any reason, whether the absence is excused, unexcused or non-truancy remote learning. This amounts to two days a month. Washington measures student’s regular attendance as an element of the accountability system, the Washington School Improvement Framework, in alignment with the definition of chronic absence.