Student Rights and Responsibilities
The Seattle Public Schools Student Rights and Responsibilities sets forth the rules and regulations of Seattle Public Schools regarding student behavior.
It is created in compliance with the requirements of state law and is aligned with the Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan. It references sections of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) that govern use of corrective responses (i.e., discipline, suspension, and expulsion) for any student by a school district.
Student Civic Engagement and Protest
Support of Students’ Rights
The district supports the right of our students to express their views in a peaceful manner, including their constitutional right to peacefully protest. This student right is formally acknowledged in Board Policy 3223, Freedom of Assembly
Over the past few years, our students have exercised this right in numerous visible ways including participation in sit-ins, walkouts, taking a knee at athletic events, and marches. Our role as educators is to provide an environment in which students are supported in the development of their opinions, ideas, and their personal role in our democracy.
Activism and community participation are values held by many Seattle residents, and is a theme that can be found in our city’s past as a source of our community pride. As a school district, we pride ourselves on developing young people who are prepared to make positive contributions not only in Seattle, but across our nation. Seattle Public Schools has educated many of our state’s community and civic leaders.
Protection and respect for student First Amendment rights is foundational to our mission of ensuring that each and every student is prepared for life, college, and career.
Protest and Absences
Seattle Public Schools believes students have an important voice in their education and in our community. Participation in civic engagement provides students a valuable opportunity to learn firsthand the important role each of us can have in our democracy and our communities. Civic engagement activities can include, but are not limited to, legislative visits, campaigning, peaceful protests, awareness walks, or advocacy efforts.
Civic Engagement Activity Excused Absence Form
The decision to participate in a civic engagement activity is made between the student and their parent/guardian. The role of the school principal or their designee is to determine if the civic engagement activity absence form submittal process was followed.
Other than those activities required by Seattle Public Schools course curriculum, civic engagement activities are optional, and participation is determined by a student’s parent/guardian. As such, civic engagement activities are not supervised by district staff. Students must submit this form for signature at least two school days prior to their planned absence.
Making up Missed Work
Following an unexcused absence, students do not have the right to make up schoolwork. The opportunity to make up work will be at the discretion of the principal and classroom teacher. The opportunity to make up work will depend on the course syllabus and other factors.
Student Safety During Protests
Student safety is a top priority. When students leave our campuses, we are no longer able to assure student safety. For this reason, when a school or the district learns about a planned walkout or any instance where groups of students might be departing campus, the district’s Safety and Security Department will work closely with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) so they can monitor the safety of our students as travel away from district property and out of our care. Through this coordinated effort, students have had appropriate supports as they exercise their First Amendment rights.
Additional Information and resources:
- Board Policy 3121
- Superintendent Procedure 3121
- Compulsory Attendance Letter to families
- Statewide definition of excused and unexcused daily absences
- ACLU in WA: Student Walkouts and Political Speech in Schools
- State of Washington Administrative Code Statewide Definition of Absence, Excused and Unexcused
- Civic Engagement Activity Excused Absence Form