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Report an Absence

Due to the high volume of absences and other attendance requests, we are no longer using the Forms portal for a pre-planned absence. To report an absence, late arrival or request an early dismissal, please e-mail Because of the high volume of emails being received it is very difficult to acknowledge receipt of the email or respond back to general questions. But, sending an email is preferred to receiving a phone call unless it is a very last minute notification. Please do not do both as it creates extra work.

It is not necessary to send a follow-up email or phone call. If you receive a School Messenger phone call because we have not been able to get to your email know that we will be processing it as soon as possible. Your emails will be processed as soon as humanly possible and we appreciate your patience as staff work through the mountains of emails that are being received on a daily basis.

Attendance by the Numbers

2 days: How much time you have to provide a valid excuse in writing or electronic message after an absence has occurred or it will remain unexcused.

3 days: When a planned absence form is due prior to the start of an absence.

5 days: Illness keeping you out 5 days in a row or longer?  You must provide a doctor’s verification note for it to be excused.

7 days: Seven unexcused absences in a month (or ten in a school year) will prompt attendance intervention and possibly require the district to file a truancy petition if absences continue.

8 days: If you miss the first 8 days of the start of school, you will no longer be enrolled in the Seattle Public Schools.

10 minutes: If you miss more than 10 minutes of instruction time in a period, you will be marked absent for that period.

10 days: Your sick days will no longer be excused without a doctor’s note if you have already had 10 sick days in that school year. (This does not pertain to students with chronic conditions and have communicated with the school nurse.)

10 days: If you miss more than 20 consecutive days (unexcused or excused), you will cease to be enrolled in Seattle Public Schools.

Seattle Public Schools Attendance Policies


An absence from a class at the high school (secondary) level is defined as any time a student misses more than ten (10) minutes of a given class period.

  • For unplanned absences , written or electronic notice of the absence by the parent or guardian to the school within two (2) school days of the student’s return.
    • Five (5) consecutive unplanned absences requires a physician’s verification to excuse (provided within 3 days of return to school).
    For planned absences , “ Planned Absence” forms are due to attendance office three (3) days prior to date of absence.

Absences are recorded per period, so any absence (period or full-day) should be communicated to the attendance office. If a student is marked absent/late for class/period(s) in error, the student is required to clear the discrepancy with the teacher. The parent cannot excuse the absence.

How absences can affect enrollment:

Absences at the beginning of the school year:
  • Students who miss the first eight (8) days of school, whether the absences are excused or unexcused, will not be counted as enrolled students and will cease to be enrolled in the District; unless there is a written agreement between the appropriate school official and a student’s parent or guardian to begin attending later.Every student must attend at least one (1) day prior to October 1st or they will cease to be enrolled.

Absences for longer than twenty (20) consecutive school days:

  • Students who are absent for more than twenty (20) consecutive school days, whether the absences are excused or unexcused, will not be counted as enrolled students except in the following two (2) circumstances:
    • If there is an agreement between the appropriate school official and a student’s parent or guardian that the student’s temporary absence is not deemed to cause a serious adverse effect upon the student’s educational progress, the absent student may be counted as an enrolled student for at least two monthly enrollment periods. Any agreement between the school and the parent or guardian under this section must be in writing and signed by the parties.A student who receives home/hospital services shall be counted as an enrolled student so long as the student remains a student in the Seattle Public Schools. If a student enrolls in another district, the student will be withdrawn from SPS.

Definitions (Seattle School District) Valid Excuses:

  • Participation in a district or school approved activity or instructional program (internal)Illness, health condition or medical appointment (including but not limited to, medical, counseling, dental or optometry). Five consecutive days absent requires physician’s verification to excuse.
  • Extended Medical – medical absence to exceed three (3) consecutive days; recurring medical appointments – Submit Preplanned Absence formFamily emergency, including but not limited to, death or illness in the family. Details may be requested.
  • Absence related to bereavement; anticipate more than three (3) consecutive days – Submit Preplanned Absence form
  • Religious or cultural purpose including observance of a religious or cultural holiday or participation in religious or cultural instruction – Submit Preplanned Absence form
  • Court, judicial proceeding or serving on a jury – Submit official document for review
  • Post-secondary, technical school or apprenticeship program visitation, or scholarship interview – Submit Preplanned Absence form
  • State recognized search and rescue activities – Submit Preplanned Absence form
  • Approved activity such as attending youth conference or serving as a counselor at a school sanctioned outdoor education program – Submit Preplanned Absence form
  • Absence directly related to the student’s homeless status, such as a house fire, moving, lack of new District transportation set up, required agency visit or similar situation.
  • Absence related to deployment activities of a parent or legal guardian who is an active duty member.
  • Absence resulting from a disciplinary/corrective action.

If an absence is excused, the student is permitted to make up all missed assignments outside of class under reasonable conditions and time limits established by the appropriate teacher.

Written, verbal or electronic notice by a parent/guardian must be in the Attendance Office BEFORE a student may be notified to leave class by Attendance.

Important: Sign out at Attendance before leaving campus is mandatory and a school requirement to excuse early dismissals. Absences will remain unexcused if the student/parent-guardian does not sign out at the time of departure – no exceptions.
Parent/guardian notification within one hour of early dismissal requires the parent to check the student out at the attendance window.

Early dismissal due to illness (while at school) requires a release from the school nurse. The school nurse will contact and receive release authorization. Sign out at Attendance is mandatory.

If another individual is picking up the student, that person must be listed as contact in the student record and must have proper identification. The students’ safety is our first concern.
If a student leaves school without seeing the nurse and without signing out, they will not be excused.

Any absence from school is unexcused unless it meets one of the criteria above for an excused absence.

A student record is not excused when the parent notification does not provide a reason, or the reason does not meet district standard for the absence to be excused.

A student record is unexcused when the student/parent does not sign out at attendance when leaving early.

Specifically, absences for the following reasons are unexcused: oversleeping, finishing homework, missing one’s bus or having other transportation problems, family trip or vacation, or a student needed to babysit a sibling.

A student who has failed to attend the majority of hours or periods in an average day will be marked as having an “unexcused absence (Truant) day.”

Important: Students report directly to class upon arrival at school – On Time or Late unless the late arrival is more than 10 minutes into class.

A tardy at the secondary level is defined as arriving late to school or to any class during the school day. Secondary (high school) students who miss 10 or more minutes of instructional time in a class will be marked absent.

Parent/guardian notification is required to excuse a tardy/late arrival within two (2) days.
Schools may implement attendance interventions and supports by including accumulated tardies and/or early departures with full-day absences.