OSPI Adopts Permanent Absence Rules

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has created the new Chapter 392-401 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) that contains substantial changes to the absence rules. This chapter defines an absence and reasons for excused absences. 

OSPI adopted the absence rules on May 3, 2018. The rules will become effective on August 1, 2018.

Review the adopted absence rules here. We strongly encourage school districts to review the final rules in detail.

Further guidance on the new rules will be forthcoming in an official OSPI bulletin and on the OSPI Attendance Laws & Policies webpage


Definition of absence. The new proposed Chapter 392-401 WAC defines an absence as when a student is:

(a) Not physically present on school grounds; and (b) Not participating in the following activities at an approved 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. 

Absences during Suspensions and Expulsions.  A student should be considered excused absent while they are suspended or expelled pursuant to chapter 392-400 WAC, unless they are receiving educational services as required by RCW 28A.600.015 and chapter 392-400 WAC and the student is enrolled in qualifying “course of study” activities as defined in WAC 392-121-107. 

Full Day Absence. A full day absence is defined as a student missing fifty percent or more of their scheduled day. 

Accumulation of Tardies for Truancy Petition. The permanent rule language states that a school or district shall not convert or combine tardies into absences that contribute to a truancy petition.

Additional Categories of Excused Absences.  The permanent rule has several additional categories of excused absences, including:

  • Medical appointments or absences due to: counseling, in-patient, out-patient for mental health or chemical dependency, or pregnancy
  • Court-ordered activities
  • Foster care or dependency status
  • Migrant status
  • Safety concerns including bullying


To view the new Absence Rules, please visit this link: Permanent rule language

A detailed summary of the changes, as well as OSPI’s justification for changes and response to commenters is available in the Concise Explanatory Statement by request.   

For assistance or questions, please contact Krissy Johnson at krissy.johnson@k12.wa.us or (360) 725-6045.