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TRUANCY: Preliminary Findings on Washington's 1995 Law

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Carol Webster - January 1996

In the 1995 legislative session, E2SSB 5439 (the "Becca Bill") was passed by the Washington State Legislature and signed into law. Its purpose is to give parents, police, schools, and courts the ability to intervene earlier in the lives of at-risk youth. Sections 66-74 of the new law address truancy. The new law requires the school district to file a truancy petition directly with the juvenile court if a juvenile has five unexcused absences in a month or ten in a school year. The Becca Bill directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to review and evaluate: the need to develop a statewide definition of excused and unexcused absences; the need to prohibit school districts from suspending and expelling students as disciplinary measures in response to unexcused absences; and the process of filing truancy petitions. This report describes how the law has been interpreted and implemented in school districts and juvenile courts from September through November 1995.

Report ID: 96-01-2201

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