Skip To ContentSkip To Content

    Attendance FAQ

    Remote Learning Attendance: For information related to attendance during remote learning, please visit our Teaching and Learning FAQ webpage.


    What is SPS' Attendance Policy/Procedure?

    SPS believes that maximizing instructional time is critical to the success of our students. Read our Attendance Policy (3121) and related Superintendent Procedure (3121) for more information.

    What do I do if my student misses school?

    If the absence is planned, provide written or verbal notice to the school at least three (3) days in advance. If the absence is unplanned, let the school know as soon as you are able.

    Be sure to check with your student's teachers and get assignments and classwork in advance (if you are able) or after your student has returned so they can stay on track with classmates.

    Families are encouraged to not schedule appointments, vacations, or other events at times that would cause students to be absent from school.

    What is the difference between an excused absences and an unexcused absence?

    Excused absences meet at least one of the criteria set out in state law and our Superintendent Procedure. The are:

    • Participation in a district or school approved activity or instructional program;
    • Illness, health condition or medical appointment (including, but not limited to, medical, counseling, dental, optometry, pregnancy, and inpatient or out-patient treatment for chemical dependency or mental health) for the student or person for whom the student is legally responsible;
    • Family emergency, including, but not limited to, a death or illness in the family;
    • Religious or cultural purpose including observance of a religious or cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction;
    • Court, judicial proceeding, court-ordered activity, or jury service;
    • Post-secondary, technical school or apprenticeship program visitation, or scholarship interview;
    • State-recognized search and rescue activities consistent with RCW 28A.225.055;
    • Absence directly related to the student's homeless or out of home care status;
    • Absences related to deployment activities of a parent or legal guardian who is an active duty member consistent with RCW 28A.705.010;
    • Absence resulting from a disciplinary/corrective action (e.g., short-term or long-term suspension, emergency expulsion);
    • Absences due to student safety concerns, including absences related to threats, assaults, or bullying;
    • Absences due to a student's migrant status; and
    • An approved activity that is consistent with district policy and is mutually agreed upon by the principal or designee and a parent, guardian, or an adult, emancipated or appropriately aged student.

      Activities that are consistent with district policy deepen and/or expand student learning, build community awareness, develop skills (e.g., technical, visual or performing arts, athletic) and/or prepare students for college, career and life. Activities eligible for approval include attending a youth conference, serving as a counselor at a school-sanctioned outdoor education program and participating in an activity sponsored by a nonprofit and/or community organization that relates to the policy objectives listed above. At the time of the activity the student must meet or exceed the eligibility criteria for students participating in district sponsored activities and have a plan in place for making up missed classroom activities and assignments.

    The school principal (or designee) has the authority to determine if an absence meets the above criteria for an excused absence.

    Absences are unexcused if they do not meet any of the above criteria or if notice is not provided to the school within two school days of the student's return. All schools are required to take steps if a student has too many unexcused absences. Elementary schools are required to take steps if a student has too many excused absences.

    What is the school required to do if my student misses school?

    For elementary students with five (5) excused absences in any month or 10 during the school year, the student’s school will schedule a conference with the student and their parent(s)/guardian(s) to identify barriers to the student’s regular attendance and to identify supports and resources so the student may regularly attend school. (If the student has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan, a team able to modify that plan must reconvene.)

    A conference is not required if prior notice of the excused absences was provided to the school or if a doctor’s note has been provided and a plan is in place to ensure the student will not fall behind in their coursework.

    For all SPS students with three (3) unexcused absences in any month during the school year, the student’s school will schedule a conference with the student and their parent(s)/guardian(s) to analyze the causes of the student’s absences and determine supports needed. After seven (7) unexcused absences in a month or 10 during the school year, we are required to file a court petition to help resolve the student's attendance concerns.

    What can I do to help my child get to school?

    • Don’t let your child stay home unless they are truly sick, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or a contagious rash.
    • Avoid appointments and travel when school is in session.
    • Keep track of your child’s attendance and regularly talk with your student about the importance of being in school.
    • Set a regular bedtime and morning routine. Finish homework and pack backpacks the night before.
    • Have a back-up plan in place with family members, neighbors, or other parents for getting your child to school in case something comes up.
    • Set limits for when students need to be off devices (tv, cellphone, tablet, etc...) at night.
    • For students riding Metro buses, check the Metro website, an app, or electronic signs to ensure your bus is on time. Have a backup route if possible in case your bus is running late.

    How do I know if my child is too sick to attend school?

    If you are wondering if your child is too sick to attend school, use this guide and contact your school's nurse or your child's health care provider if you have further questions.

    Who can I talk to if my child is involved with the court relating to truancy?

    Your student's assigned Attendance Rep will be able to answer your questions about court, the court process, and what is available to support your student's success. You can find the Rep for your student's school here.

    How do I change the automated daily attendance notifications from SchoolMessenger?

    Parents/guardians may update their communication preferences at at any time. (See SPS Communication Preferences for additional details.)

    If an emancipated or appropriately aged student (18+ years) wishes to stop automated messages to other contacts relating to daily attendance they can send a request to Requests must include the student’s first name, last name, student id, and date of birth; and the name(s) and relevant phone number(s) and/or email address(es) to remove from receiving messages.