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Truancy

MISSION STATEMENT:
Improving school attendance by using best practices that incorporate the following:
* Developing a system for finding solutions to prevent truancy
* Improving school engagement
* Reducing drop-out rates
* Increasing access to outside service providers
* Using an interdisciplinary approach to collaborate and coordinate with local community businesses, non profit groups, schools and Court staff.

Washington State Law requires that children between the age of 8 and 18 attend school regularly (if the child is between the ages of 6-8 and enrolled in school, the law applies).  You are in violation of the Washington State Truancy Law if one or more of the following is true:

  • if a student has five (5) or more unexcused absences in one month; or
  • if a student has ten (10) or more unexcused absences in one year.

Mandatory attendance law came into effect in 1996 and mandates that schools in Washington State must legally file a petition with Juvenile Court if a student has the number of absences shown above.  If you are in violation of the Washington State Truancy Law a Truancy Petition for an order compelling school attendance can be filed by the School District the student attends.  The petition is then stayed by the Court and the student is referred to the School District's Community Truancy Board. A Community Truancy Board is a board established pursuant to a memorandum of understanding between a Juvenile Court and a School District and is comprised of members of the local community in which the child attends school.  Duties of a Community Truancy Board shall include, but not be limited to:  Identifying barriers to school attendance, recommending methods for improving attendance such as connecting students and their families with community services, culturally appropriate promising practices, and evidence-based services such as functional family therapy, suggesting to the School District that the child enroll in another school, an alternative education program, an education center, a skill center, a dropout prevention program, or another public or private educational program, or recommending to the Juvenile Court that a juvenile be offered the opportunity for placement in a HOPE center or crisis residential center, if appropriate.  Once a student is referred to the Community Truancy Board, the School District will send a letter to the student and their family to set an appointment with the CTB and notify the CTB members of the appointment.  The goal is to inform the family and student the CTB's willingness to work with them to improve attendance.  An agreement between the CTB and the student and family is documented.  If unexcused absences continue after the CTB meeting or the family refuses to attend the CTB, the next step is to file an Amended Petition.  The Amended Petition is sent to the Juvenile Probation Officer who will file the petition and send the school and family paperwork with a Court date.  The School's Truancy Counselor will attend the hearing to state the facts of the case and how the non-attendance is impacting achievement and/or graduation.  If the student does not follow the guidelines as ordered by the Court, the Probation Officer is required to file a contempt and set another hearing date in which the Court can order sanctions.  If the student does not appear at the hearing, a bench warrant may issue.