• Steilacoom High School Attendance Policy

     SHSD Policy 3122 Excused and Unexcused Absences

     Why are we focusing on attendance?


    Commonly referred to as the Becca Bill, our state has established guidelines for schools to monitor and report the accumulation of unexcused absences. Multiple unexcused absence within any month of the current school year will be followed by a letter or phone call to the parent/guardian informing them of consequences of additional unexcused absences. Between two and five unexcused absences within any month of the current school year, a conference will be held between the principal or assistant principal, student and parent to analyze the causes of the student’s absenteeism. The district will also assign a staff member to give the student the WARNS assessment in order to determine potential interventions and next steps. An agreement with student/parent, referral to an engagement board, or petition/affidavit will occur no later than the 7th unexcused absences in a month.  If the above are unsuccessful,then petition/affidavit is filed no earlier that 7th unexcused absence within a month and not later than the 15th unexcused absence within the current school year, per RCW 28A.225.010. 

    ACCEPTABLE Reasons for an Excused Absence

    1. The following are valid excuses for absences: 1. Illness, health condition or medical appointment (including, but not limited to, medical, counseling, dental, optometry, pregnancy, and in-patient or out-patient treatment for chemical dependency or mental health) for the student or person for whom the student is legally responsible;
    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, 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 as defined in WAC 392-121-107;
    10. Absences due to student safety concerns, including absences related to threats, assaults, or bullying;
    11. Absences due to a student's migrant status; and
    12. An approved activity that is consistent with district policy and is mutually agreed upon by the principal or designee and a parent, guardian, or emancipated youth;
    13. Absences related to the student's illness, health condition, or medical appointments due to COVID-19;
    14. Absences related to caring for a family member who has an illness, health condition, or medical appointment due to COVID-19;
    15. 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;
    16. Absences due to the student's parent's work schedule or other obligations during regularly scheduled school hours, until other arrangements can be made;
    17. Absences due to the student's lack of necessary instructional tools, including internet broadband access or connectivity; and
    18. Other COVID-19 related circumstances as determined between school and parent or emancipated youth. A school principal or designee has the authority to determine if an absence meets the above criteria for an excused absence. Districts may define additional categories or criteria for excused absences.

    Excused Absence, in this sense, means being absent from campus for any portion of the school day, including lunch.

    ATHLETES on a Game Day

    On the day of a game, absences for any part of the day must be excused with a third party note. If an athlete is absent for any part of the day without a third party note, they will not be eligible to play.

    EXCUSING an Absence

    A parent or guardian must call, write a note, or come into the attendance office to excuse a student’s absence or tardy. Absences must be excused before the absence occurs or within 48 hours after the absence by one of the following means:

    • A phone call to the Attendance Office: 253-983-2303.
    • When leaving a voice mail, please speak clearly and include the following information:
      • Student name;
      • Parent or guardian name;
      • A phone number where parent or guardian can be reached; and,
      • The reason for the absence/specified type of appointment.
    • A note brought to the attendance office by the student including the following information:
      • Student name;
      • Parent or guardian name;
      • A phone number where parent or guardian can be reached; and,
      • The reason for absence/specified type of appointment.

    EXTENDED Absences

    Any absence over two days (not including illness) must have prior approval through a planned absence form. Signatures from parents and teachers are required. Forms may be found in the attendance office and must be submitted to the attendance office prior to the absence. 


    1. Students shall not be absent if:

    They have been suspended, expelled, or emergency expelled pursuant to chapter 392-400 WAC;

    Are receiving educational services as required by RCW 28A.600.015 and chapter 392-400 WAC; and

    The student is enrolled in qualifying "course of study" activities as defined in WAC 392-121-107.

    2. A full day absence is when a student is absent for fifty percent or more of their scheduled day.

    3. A school or district shall not convert or combine tardies into absences that contribute to a truancy petition.


    A student shall be considered absent if they are on school grounds but not in their assigned