Education Laws in Washington State
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Education Laws in Washington State

This page is intended to address the most common questions related to education requirements in Washington state.

Please refer to the legislation links for the full law, which direct you to the Washington State Legislature


Attendance Requirements

By what age is it mandatory that a child be enrolled in school?
RCW 28A.225.010
Any child 8 years of age and under 18 years of age shall attend a public school.

Between what ages is a school district required to enroll a student?
RCW 28A.225.160
It is the general policy of the state that the common schools shall be open to the admission of all persons who are 5 years of age and less than 21 years residing in that school district.

How many days are in a school year?
WAC 180-16-215
Each school district shall conduct a school year of no less than 180 school days in such grades as are conducted by the school district, and 180 half-days of instruction, or the equivalent, in kindergarten.

How many instructional hours per year is the school district required to offer?
RCW 28A.150.220
District-wide annual average 1,000 hours in grades 1-8 and 1,080 hours in grades 9-12, which may be calculated as a district-wide average in grades 1-12 (1,027 hours). In kindergarten, at least 450 instructional hours, which shall be increased to at least 1,000 instructional hours according to the implementation schedule under RCW 28A.150.315.


What is an unexcused absence?
RCW 28A.225.020
Unexcused absence means that a child has failed to attend the majority of hours or periods in an average school day or has failed to comply with a more restrictive school district policy; and has failed to meet the school district's policy for excused absences.

What is the school required to do if a child fails to attend school?
RCW 28A.225.020
Inform the child's custodial parent, parents, or guardian by a notice in writing or by telephone whenever the child has failed to attend school after one unexcused absence within any month during the current school year. School officials shall inform the parent of the potential consequences of additional unexcused absences.

When can a school district file a truancy petition?
RCW 28A.225.030
If a child is required to attend school under RCW 28A.225.010 and if the actions taken by a school district under RCW 28A.225.020 are not successful in substantially reducing an enrolled student's absences from public school, not later than the seventh unexcused absence by a child within any month during the current school year or not later than the tenth unexcused absence during the current school year.

Classroom Discipline

Can a school district create its own discipline policy?
RCW 28A.600.460
A school district’s board of directors shall adopt policies that restore discipline to the classroom.

Can a school or school district discipline decision be appealed?
WAC 392-400-240
Any student, parent or guardian who is aggrieved by the imposition of discipline shall have the right to first an informal conference with the principal, second with the district superintendent, and third before the school district board of directors or its designee.

Dress Code

Can a public school enforce a dress code?
RCW 28A.320.140
Each school district board of directors has the authority to impose dress codes at respective schools or within the entire school district.

Retention/Hold Back From Promotion

Can a school or school district retain a student without parent permission?
No applicable RCW or WAC
Individual school district policies will address this issue. Some schools model Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) Policy 2421, which states that retention may be beneficial if a school believes that the child is not demonstrating minimum competency in basic skill subjects in relation to ability and grade level.

Sports/Extracurricular Activities

Does the Superintendent of Public Instruction oversee interscholastic activities at the school district?
RCW 28A.600.200
Each school district board of directors is granted and shall exercise the authority to control, supervise, and regulate the conduct of interschool athletic activities and other interschool extracurricular activities of an athletic, cultural, social, or recreational nature.

Student Transfer

Is a nonresident school district required to approve all transfers from another district (inter-district transfer)?
WAC 392-137-160
A nonresident district may admit all nonresident students who are released by a resident district.

Can a nonresident school district’s denial of release or acceptance be appealed?
WAC 392-137-190
Requests for an appeal shall be addressed to the superintendent of public instruction. Download Notice of Appeal Form SPI M-666 (PDF)

Can a school district approve a transfer for longer than one year?
WAC 392-137-225 and WAC 392-137-230
All acceptances on nonresident students, whether granted by the nonresident district or ordered by the superintendent of public instruction, shall state the length of the acceptance or the conditions subsequent which would cause the acceptance to be terminated.

Can a school district denial of a transfer between schools within the district (intra-district) be appealed?
RCW 28A.225.270
Each school district board of directors is responsible for making its own policies in regards to intradistrict transfers. Refer to the individual school district policy and procedure for the appeal process.

For more information on Non-Resident Student Transfers.

Transportation/Bus Routes

What regulations are established for school bus routes?
RCW 28A.160.115
On divided highways and highways with three or more marked traffic lanes, public school district and private school bus routes shall serve each side of the highway unless there is a traffic control signal or adult crossing guard within 300 feet of the bus stop.

School Facilities (the use of)

Can a school district allow a religious entity to use their school facilities?
RCW 28A.320.510
Each school district board of directors shall authorize school facilities to be used for various activities including religious activities. They may require a reasonable rental fee from any entity using school facilities.

High School Transcript FAQs
Washington State Standardized High School Transcripts contains the most frequently asked questions.



   Updated 5/16/2016

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