WSR 18-06-104
[Filed March 7, 2018, 10:33 a.m.]
Original Notice.
Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 16-22-071.
Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: Chapter 392-401 WAC, Statewide definition of absence, excused and unexcused.
Hearing Location(s): On April 11, 2018, at 1:00 p.m., at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Brouillet Conference Room, 600 South Washington Street, Olympia, WA 98501.
Date of Intended Adoption: April 16, 2018.
Submit Written Comments to: Krissy Johnson, OSPI, P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200, email, fax 360-753-4201, by April 11, 2018.
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Kristin Murphy, phone 360-725-6133, fax 360-754-4201, TTY 360-664-3631, email, by April 4, 2018.
Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: The purpose of this proposed rule is to establish a statewide definition of absence for students enrolled in public schools. The proposed rule would change the current rule's definition of what constitutes an excused or unexcused absence.
OSPI initially filed proposed language for chapter 392-401 WAC on August 23, 2017 (WSR 17-17-167). Following the public comment period, OSPI made revisions to the proposed rule language that are substantially different from the rule proposed in WSR 17-17-167. OSPI is therefore reopening the proceedings for public comment on the proposed rule.
Reasons Supporting Proposal: Several recent developments have necessitated a revision of the existing rule: (1) OSPI is publicly displaying chronic absenteeism data through the key performance indicator analytics; (2) United States Department of Education (USDOE) is collecting an annual chronic absenteeism report; (3) USDOE Office of Civil Rights collects chronic absenteeism in its civil rights data collection; and (4) chronic absenteeism is included in Washington state's ESSA accountability framework. The intent of the rule making is to align OSPI's state data collection with federal reporting and create consistent reporting across the state so as to increase data quality and comparability as accountability and visibility of chronic absenteeism increases.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 28A.300.046.
Statute Being Implemented: RCW 28A.300.046.
Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.
Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting and Implementation: Krissy Johnson, OSPI, 600 South Washington Street, Olympia, WA, 360-725-6045; and Enforcement: Dixie Grunenfelder, OSPI, 600 South Washington Street, Olympia, WA 360-725-0415.
A school district fiscal impact statement is not required under RCW 28A.305.135.
A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328.
This rule proposal, or portions of the proposal, is exempt from requirements of the Regulatory Fairness Act because the proposal:
Is exempt under RCW 19.85.030.
Explanation of exemptions: No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. The proposed amendment does not have an impact on small business and therefore does not meet the requirements for a statement under RCW 19.85.030 (1) or (2).
March 7, 2018
Chris P. S. Reykdal
State Superintendent
of Public Instruction
The following section of the Washington Administrative Code is repealed:
WAC 392-400-325
Statewide definition of excused and unexcused daily absences.
Chapter  392-401  WAC
WAC 392-401-005 Purpose.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a definition of absence to districts that supports accurate and consistent attendance data collection across the state. This effort will support the state and districts to address the challenge of chronic absenteeism, in an effort to improve learning outcomes and success in school for all students and to support the whole child.
WAC 392-401-010 Authority.
The authority for this chapter is RCW 28A.300.046, which requires the superintendent of public instruction to adopt rules establishing a standard definition of student absence from school.
WAC 392-401-012 Definition of absent or absence for the 2017-18 school year.
(1) A student is absent when they are:
(a) Not physically present on school grounds; and
(b) Not participating in instruction or instruction-related activities at an approved off-grounds location for at least fifty percent of the student's scheduled day.
(2) Absences due to suspensions, expulsions or emergency expulsions imposed pursuant to chapter 392-400 WAC must be reported as excused absences, unless the student is receiving educational services as required by RCW 28A.600.015 and chapter 392-400 WAC.
(3) A student who is marked tardy to class is not absent unless the student otherwise meets the criteria for absence provided in WAC 392-401-015(1).
(4) This section is effective only for the 2017-18 school year.
WAC 392-401-015 Definition of absent or absence.
(1) A student is absent when they are:
(a) Not physically present on school grounds; and
(b) Not participating in the following activities at an approved off-grounds location:
(i) Instruction;
(ii) Any instruction-related activity; or
(iii) Any other district or school approved activity that is regulated by an instructional/academic accountability system, such as participation in district-sponsored sports. 
(2) Students who have been suspended, expelled, or emergency expelled pursuant to chapter 392-400 WAC and are receiving educational services as required by RCW 28A.600.015 and chapter 392-400 WAC, shall not be absent. 
(3) A full day absence is when a student is absent for fifty percent or more of their scheduled day.
(4) A school or district shall not convert or combine tardies into absences that would result in the filing of a truancy petition.
(5) This section is effective for the 2018-19 school year and thereafter.
WAC 392-401-020 Excused absences.
Absences due to the following reasons must be excused:
(1) Participation in a district or school approved activity, that meets the criteria of an absence as defined in WAC 392-401-015;
(2) 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;
(3) Family emergency including, but not limited to, a death or illness in the family;
(4) Religious or cultural purpose including observance of a religious or cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction;
(5) Court, judicial proceeding, court-ordered activity, or jury service;
(6) Post-secondary, technical school or apprenticeship program visitation, or scholarship interview;
(7) State-recognized search and rescue activities consistent with RCW 28A.225.055;
(8) Absence directly related to the student's homeless or foster care/dependency status;
(9) Absences related to deployment activities of a parent or legal guardian who is an active duty member consistent with RCW 28A.705.010;
(10) Absences due to suspensions, expulsions or emergency expulsions imposed pursuant to chapter 392-400 WAC if the student is not receiving educational services as provided under RCW 28A.600.015 and chapter 392-400 WAC;
(11) Absences due to student safety concerns, including absences related to threats, assaults, or bullying;
(12) Absences due to a student's migrant status; and
(13) 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.
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.
WAC 392-401-030 Unexcused absences.
Any absence from school is unexcused unless it meets one of the criteria provided in WAC 392-401-020.