What will happen if my child misses a lot of school?

A child who misses a lot of school can miss out on a lot of opportunities.

Sometimes there are completely valid reasons why a child can't get to school (for example, if they are sick, or dealing with a health condition, or trying to sort things out if their family loses their housing). If a child has to miss school a lot, you can ask the school to work with you to put together a plan so that your child can still keep learning.

Sometimes students get in a habit of missing a few days now and then, and before you know it, it has added up to a lot of days. It might seem like they are doing fine, catching up when they get back, but the missed time can really make an impact in learning to read, write and do math. If a student misses several days, they might miss learning things that they will need to know as they move on to more complex topics. Missing days in high school can mean a student risks losing credit for a class. Missing days in elementary school can mean a student misses out on learning key things that they'll need to be successful as the work gets harder.

Conferences to Identify Barriers to Attendance: If a child in elementary school has 5 or more excused absences in a month or 10 or more excused absences in a year, the school must schedule a conference with the parents. These conferences are an important time to consider whether a child needs extra supports.  The conferences are meant to help schools and families work together to identify barriers to attendance. The conference should include someone like a nurse, counselor, social worker or teacher who can help come up with ideas to address any barriers to attendance.

If your child has an IEP or Section 504 Plan, and misses 5 days in a month or 10 in a year, then the school should call the team together to problem-solve around the absences.

If you have already given the school a doctor's note and worked out a plan so your child can keep on track with academic work, the conference may not be necessary.

You can read about this requirement in the state law at RCW 28A.225.018, online here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28a.225&full=true#28A.225.018.