BECCA BILL TRUANCY LEGISLATION R. C. W. 28 A. 225 Effective 9/l/95 • • • Ø • History of the BECCA BILL Truancy Legislation Truancy Process Community Truancy Boards (CTB) Supporting Your Child’s Education
History of the BECCA BILL The BECCA Bill was given the name “BECCA” by the legislature in 1995 in memory of Rebecca Hedman. At the age of 15 months, Rebecca was placed with the Hedman family in Tacoma, Washington, to live as a foster child, and they eventually adopted her. Rebecca’s father described her as a healthy, happy child. "Mom and Dad got hugs and kisses good night, " he said. "She was my buddy. " Things changed when Rebecca entered Middle School and started hanging out with older youth. She became rebellious, groaned about doing chores, and began threatening to run away. Her parents sent her to a state-run crisis residential center, where teenagers can be sent to cool off while the family begins working on its problems. When she didn't want to come home after the weekend, Rebecca went to live in a group home. The Hedmans said Rebecca met older girls there who introduced her to marijuana and eventually crack cocaine. They would run away for days to party. During one absence, Rebecca's mother told a Police Officer she'd throw Rebecca in her car if she saw her on the street. "The Officer told her she'd be arrested for kidnapping and physical assault, " Hedman said. To Becca's parents, it seemed the law prevented them from keeping Becca safe. Unfortunately, on October 18, 1993, at the age of just 14 years old, Rebecca Hedman was murdered in Spokane, Washington. Murakami, Kery. “Would `Becca Bill' Have Saved Becca? -- Named For Runaway Girl Who Was Murdered, New Law Gives Parents More Control Over Kids” Seattle Times. Friday, June 23, 1995. http: //community. seattletimes. nwsource. com/archive/? date=19950623&slug=2127830. 23 Jan. 2019
Truancy Legislation What the Washington State Law says about attending school RCW 28 A. 225 COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND ADMISSION ENROLLMENT Each school within a School District shall inform the students and the parents of the students enrolled in the school about: The benefits of regular school attendance; the potential effects of missing school (excused or unexcused), on academic achievement, and graduation and dropout rates; the school's expectations of the parents and guardians to ensure regular school attendance by the child; the resources available to assist the child and the parents and guardians; the role and responsibilities of the school; and the consequences of truancy, including the compulsory education requirements under this chapter. The school shall provide access to the information before or at the time of enrollment of the child at a new school and at the beginning of each school year. Schools regularly and ordinarily communicates most other information to parents online through skyward. Reasonable efforts must be made to enable parents to request and receive the information in a language in which they are fluent. A parent must date and acknowledge review of this information online or in writing before or at the time of enrollment of the child at a new school and at the beginning of each school year. Contact the School District that you reside in for further information on how to enroll your child into school.
Truancy Legislation What the Washington State Law says about attending school RCW 28 A. 225 COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND ADMISSION MANDATORY ATTENDANCE In the State of Washington, children 8 years of age to under 18 years of age are required to attend a public school unless: a). The child is enrolled and attending a Private School b). The child is receiving home-based instruction (homeschooling) c). The child is attending an Education Center d). The Superintendent of the School District has excused the child from attending school because the child is physically or mentally incapable of attending school e). The child is excused by the parent for a reason of faith or conscience for up to two days of school per school year. f). The child is 16 years old or older AND lawfully/legally employed AND emancipated. g). The child has already completed the educational requirements by receiving the High School Diploma or General Education Diploma (GED). If a parent enrolls a child into school that is between the ages of 6 to 7 years of age, the child must attend school. If the School District has not filed a Truancy Petition, a child under the age of 8 years old can be unenrolled by the parent. For more information on Homeschooling, please click the link http: //washhomeschool. org/homeschooling/the-law/
THE SCHOOL’S RESPONSIBILITY If a child that is enrolled in an Elementary School has 5 or more EXCUSED absences in a single month, or 10 EXCUSED absences in a school year, the school must schedule a conference with the parent and child to identify potential barriers to the child’s regular attendance within 30 days of the absence. If a child has an Individual Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan, the team that created the program or plan is required to hold a meeting to address the absences. If a child enrolled in a public school fails to attend school, the School District must notify the parent in writing or by telephone after each unexcused absence. Many schools use the automated phone system. If a child enrolled in a public school has 3 or more unexcused absences in a month, the school must attempt to schedule a school conference. A school conference could be a letter, a phone call home, a conversation in the office, and/or a parent-teacher conference. After the second but before the fifth unexcused absence, the school must take data-informed steps to reduce the child’s absences. Data-informed steps are established by applying the Washington Assessment of the Risks and Needs of Students (WARNS), reassessing an IEP or 504 Plan, evaluating for Special Education services, adjusting the child’s school program or schedule, referring a child to the Community Truancy Board, offering remedial services, and/or requiring the child to attend an alternative school.
THE SCHOOL’S RESPONSIBILITY If a child under the age of 17 years of age is required to attend school by law, the School District must file a Truancy Petition with the court after the 7 th unexcused absence in any month or tenth unexcused absence in the school year. A School District may file a Truancy Petition if the student violates the School District’s attendance policy. For more information on the school’s attendance policy, contact the School District that your child is enrolled in or go to the school district’s website. If a School District fails to file a Truancy Petition after the 7 th unexcused absence in any month or tenth unexcused absence in the school year, a parent/guardian can file the Truancy Petition themselves. When a School District files a Truancy Petition with the court, the district must include each date that the student was tardy or absent, the date of which a conference was held or attempted, and what interventions have been offered to the student in order to alleviate the absences.
The Truancy Process The School District filed a Truancy Petition on your child. What happens next? Once a School District files a Truancy Petition with the court alleging that the youth/parent have violated the Truancy law of Washington State or the School District’s attendance policy, the Truancy Petition is reviewed by a Juvenile Probation Officer for legal sufficiency. The Truancy Petition will be filed with the Lewis County Clerk’s Office as a civil action (meaning it is not a part of criminal history). The Juvenile Court will mail a copy of the Truancy Petition, an informational letter about the Truancy Process, and a copy of the Order to Stay the Petition to the student and the parent/guardian. Slide 8 -9 is a copy of a blank Truancy Petition. Schools must select at least one of the allegations regarding the student’s absences, provide the court with the student’s full name, address, parent/guardian(s) full names and addresses, each day the student was absent, what actions the school has taken to eliminate or reduce the absences, the date of which a conference was held or attempted, and attach a copy of the student’s attendance to the petition.
Order to Stay Truancy Petition Every Truancy Petition that is filed with the court will automatically be stayed. A stay of proceedings is a ruling by the court in civil and criminal procedure, halting further legal process in a trial or other legal proceeding. The Juvenile Court will mail a copy of the Truancy Petition and Order to Stay Truancy Proceedings to the student and parent/guardian. The Truancy Petition will remain stayed as long as the student attends school as required, with no further unexcused absences or tardies. If the Truancy Petition continues to be stayed, it will be dismissed on June 30 th of the current school year.
Community Truancy Boards Community Truancy Board (CTB) means a board established pursuant to a memorandum of understanding between a juvenile court and a school district and composed of members of the local community in which the child attends school. Community truancy boards must include members who receive training regarding the identification of barriers to school attendance, the use of the Washington assessment of the risks and needs of students (WARNS) or other assessment tools to identify the specific needs of individual children, cultural responsive interactions, trauma-informed approaches to discipline, evidence-based treatments that have been found effective in supporting at-risk youth and their families, and the specific services and treatment available in the particular school, court, community, and elsewhere. Duties of a community truancy board shall include, but not be limited to: Identifying barriers to school attendance, recommending methods for improving attendance such as connecting students and their families with community services, culturally appropriate promising practices, and evidence-based services such as functional family therapy, suggesting to the school district that the child enroll in another school, an alternative education program, an education center, a skill center, a dropout prevention program, or another public or private educational program, or recommending to the juvenile court that a juvenile be offered the opportunity for placement in a HOPE center or crisis residential center, if appropriate. For more information on your local CTB, please contact the School District.
Order Lifting Stay and Scheduling Hearing If the student continues to have unexcused absences or tardies, the school will refer the student and parent to the Community Truancy Board (CTB). The CTB will review the student’s attendance and will have the student and parent/guardian sign a CTB contact to address and improve the student’s attendance within 20 days of the referral. If a student/parent fails to participate in the CTB process or violates the contract, the school will return the case back to the court. The Order to Stay the petition shall be lifted, and the juvenile court shall schedule a hearing at which the court shall consider the petition.
The Truancy Process What happens after the CTB? Once a Truancy Petition’s Order to Stay is lifted, the Juvenile Court will mail a Notice and Summons to the student and parent/guardian to attend a Court hearing to address the allegations in the Truancy Petition. Children that are 8 years of age or older are required to attend the court hearing. Child 8 years of age and older will automatically be appointed an attorney at no cost. The parent/guardian has the right to retain their own attorney at their own cost. Courtroom etiquette- Absolutely no hats, hoods, or backpacks are allowed within the lobby or the courtroom. Cell phones must be turned off or put on silent. At no time is a student/parent allowed to use a cellphone or other electronic device while in the courtroom. No food or drink is allowed in the courtroom. All firearms or potential weapons are not allowed within the building. When directed to do so, everyone within the courtroom must rise for the Judicial Officer. All proceedings are audiotaped and a verbal response to questions is required. During the court hearing, a Juvenile Probation Office will facilitate court but is not a party to the case and will not provide a recommendation. The school will be present and represented by a staff member. If the student is 8 years of ago or older, they will sit next to their attorney. The parents(s)/guardian(s) must also be present for the hearing. Failure to appear to the court hearing could result in a bench warrant being issued for the student and/or parent/guardian. During the court hearing, the Judicial Officer will hear from the school representative, the student’s attorney and the parent. After reviewing the facts of the case, the Judicial Officer will make a finding as to either grant the Truancy Petition by placing the student and parent on a Truancy Court Order, deny the Truancy Petition dismissing the case, or continue to stay the Petition for progress.
Truancy Court Order If the court grants a Truancy Petition, the Court Order will be in effect for two school years, or the student’s 18 th birthday, whichever is sooner. The Truancy Order will transfer to different School Districts in Washington State as well as the GED Program. The Judicial Officer will make a finding: • The student and/or parent/guardian were served the Truancy Petition • The student and parent/guardian were given the opportunity to participle in a CTB • The student had failed to attend school as required under the Truancy law (Becca Bill) • The parent/guardian violated the Truancy law (Becca Bill) • The school district has taken appropriate steps to eliminate or reduce the student’s absences The Judicial Officer can order the student/parent: • To participate in a drug/alcohol assessment and follow any recommended treatment • To participate in a Mental Health assessment and follow any recommended treatment • To attend school each and every day without any unexcused absences or tardies • To abide by a curfew • To ride the school bus to and from school • To participate in Summer School or an after school program • To provide proof of progress if attending an online program • And any further remedial requirements or services that the Judicial Officer sees fit to reduce or eliminate the absences. The court requires that a student be excused with a Physician’s Monitoring Statement or sent home by a school staff member for being too ill to be at school in order for an absence to be considered “excused. ” A parent/guardian is no longer allowed to excuse their student from school without a Physician’s Monitoring Statement or the school excusing the absence.
Physicians Monitoring Statement If you miss school without a Physicians’ Monitoring Statement or by being excused by the school nurse, the school can file a contempt. The Physicians’ Monitoring Statement is a slip of paper you can get from us or your school. Take it with you when you go to the doctor. The doctor will sign off on it. THE ABSENCE WILL NOT BE EXCUSED UNLESS THE PHYSICIANS’ MONITORING STATEMENT IS BROUGHT BACK TO SCHOOL.
Violating a Truancy Order The School District is the petitioning party of the case and can file a Motion for Contempt alleging that the student and/or parent/guardian violated the Truancy Order that had previously been granted. The Juvenile Court will send the student and parent/guardian a Notice and Summons to appear for the court hearing. The student can be found in violation (Contempt) of the Truancy Order by having unexcused absences or tardies; failing to complete a drug/alcohol assessment and recommendations if court ordered; failing to complete a mental health assessment and recommendations if court ordered; violating a court imposed curfew; failing to participate in Summer School if court orders; and/or failing to follow any other court order that was imposed. The parent/guardian can be found in violation (Contempt) of the Truancy Order if the student has any unexcused absences or tardies; if the parent does not provide the school with a Physician’s Monitoring Statement; prohibits the student from regularly attending school each and every day; and/or failing to follow any other court order that was imposed. Consequences for Students • • • Up to 7 days in Juvenile Detention Work Crew Community Service Writing Assignments Criminal Contempt- Judicial Officer refers the student to the Prosecutor’s Office for criminal charges with the student continues to violate the court order Consequences for Parents • Assessed a fine of $25 per day for each unexcused absence • Community Service • Attend school with the child
Supporting Your Child’s Education The intent of the Becca Bill is to empower parents in supporting their student’s education. A parent can support their child’s education by: • • Providing appropriate clothing Waking the child up for school each morning or providing the child with an alarm clock Ensuring your child has a ride to school Talking with the school about any potential issues such as a learning disability, medication side effects, bullying, etc. Providing structure and a bedtime at home. Identifying potential issues that interfere with your student getting a good nights rest such as electronics in their bedrooms, noise in the house, etc. Keeping a calendar of the days where your child stays home ill. If you get a new address, make sure to update your information at the school as well as the court. The Juvenile Court issues the Notice and Summons to the last known address and if you fail to appear for court, a bench warrant could be issued.