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Moses Lake School District
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Chronic Absenteeism/Truancy

State law in Washington called the “Becca Bill," requires all children, from ages 8 to 18 to attend school regularly. It also requires their parents or legal guardians to make sure they are in school regularly. This law applies to 6/7-year-olds if their parents choose to enroll them in school as well.

Students can be in public school, private school, or homeschool. The law requires that students are in school, full-time, every day unless there is a valid excuse.

If a student misses school without a valid excuse, the student might be considered “truant”. When a student is truant, schools are required to:

  • Notify the family
  • Meet and work with the family and student to figure out why
  • Try different strategies to help improve the student’s attendance


Repeated absences may result in a referral to the Community Truancy Board or to court.

If a student misses school a lot, even with a valid excuse, the law requires schools to meet and work with the family to figure out why and make a plan to help the student get to school regularly. Missing a lot of school, or “chronic absenteeism,” can make it difficult for a student to keep up with academic performance. It can also be a sign that a student might not be getting the supports he/she needs. Just 2 days of absence a month can make a huge impact!

Getting your child to school every day can be a challenge, but we can help you and your child break down barriers and build new habits.

For help solving attendance issues, please call your school today!


What is a Community Engagement Board?

A Community Engagement Board used to be called a Community Truancy Board.  It is a group of people from the community brought together by a joint agreement between a school district and the county juvenile court. Boards must include members who receive training on:

  • how to identify barriers to school attendance,
  • the use of a Washington state tool for assessing risks and needs of students, called the “WARNS”, or other similar assessment tools;
  • culturally responsive interactions;
  • trauma-informed approaches to discipline;
  • evidence-based treatments for supporting at-risk youth and their families; and
  • specific services and treatment available in the local school, court and community.


Community Engagement Boards meet with youth and families that are referred by their district. They listen and talk with them to try to figure out what is getting in the way of the student attending school; they make recommendations to the family and the school for steps to take to improve attendance.

Community Engagement Boards can:

  • Connect students and families with services including functional family therapy, or “wraparound” mental health, behavioral health or other family services);
  • Recommend that the district transfer the student to another school, an alternative program, skill center, dropout prevention program, or other school option; or
  • Recommend to the juvenile court that the youth be referred to a HOPE center or crisis residential center.