Working to transform the child welfare system.

SB 5745 intends to identify truant behavior as early as possible, and encourage best-practices and evidence-based interventions to reduce truancy in every school in the state.

The school that student attends is directed to take data-informed steps to eliminate or reduce the child’s absences. The steps are to include the use of a risk and needs assessment using a validated truancy assessment tool (a reliable, validated assessment instrument designed to measure the risk and needs of a student in aggressive-defiance; depression-anxiety; substance abuse; peer deviance; family environment; and school engagement) for the purpose of assessing needs and risk related to academic performance and attendance. This information will be used for selecting appropriate interventions and case management.

This bill adds new language to require schools to inform students and parents about the compulsory education requirements either online, or written in a language in which the parent is fluent. Truancy information must include the short-term and long-term consequences of truancy and resources available to assist the child and parent. The 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.

No later than August 30, 2016, if funds become available, the administrative office of the courts must complete validation of the Washington assessment of risk and needs for middle and elementary school students. The status of the tool development and validation must be reported by January 1st of each calendar year until development and validation are complete.

If actions taken by a school district are not successful in reducing a student’s absences, the school district can file a petition that must include previous truancy assessment completed by the child’s current school district, the history of approved best practice interventions or research-based interventions previously provided to the child.

Not later than January 1, 2016, the child and parent must be scheduled for a community truancy board, if this is not successful in reducing a child’s absences, the juvenile court schedules a hearing to consider the petition.

Each school district, collaborating with the educational service district and juvenile courts, is responsible to identify and develop sufficient best practice and/or evidence-based interventions to meet the needs of its students who show truant behavior. No later than January 1, 2016, meetings with superintendents, principals and counselors, judicial officers, and other local service providers are to develop a list of available best practice and evidence-based strategies for truancy interventions. No later than September 1, 2016, the list will be available to schools.

Finally, this bill requires a substance abuse assessment, including a urinalysis, if the court finds it appropriate. The child may also submit to a mental health evaluation or other diagnostic evaluations, at no expense to the school.