HB 2449 amends current statute to require that schools provide additional information regarding attendance/truancy. It requires provision of information at time of enrollment at a new school and at the beginning of each school year. It specifies how information must be provided, and requires parental acknowledgement of receipt of information. Finally, it tasks OSPI with developing a template and posting information on its website.
The bill also creates new section to require conference after specified number of excused absences by elementary student and provides that conference not required if prior notice regarding absences and provision made for child not to fall behind.
The bill amends current statute to define "therapeutic truancy board" as a kind of community truancy board and specifies requirements, including MOU between court and school, specified training of board members, and use of assessments/treatments. It provides that referrals can be made to HOPE centers. Further amendments also require that all petitions receive an initial stay and that intervention and prevention efforts be employed during stay, and include examples of what these efforts may include. The bill provides that if efforts unsuccessful, the stay shall be lifted and court shall employ process currently in statute to schedule hearing or use discretion to make referral to a community truancy board.
The bill creates a new section regarding grants (subject to funds appropriated for this purpose) to therapeutic truancy boards to supplement existing funds to pay for the training of therapeutic truancy board members or to pay for community services and evidence-based treatments.
The bill also amends current statute to indicate a preference that children ordered detained for contempt serve detention in a CRC rather than a juvenile detention facility.
The bill amends further amends current statute to provide, subject to appropriation, that the number of beds in HOPE centers be increased incrementally and the additional capacity be distributed around the state based upon need and, to the extent feasible, so that they are available across the state. It also provides that in determining need for beds in a particular county that one of the considerations should be the volume of truancy petitions filed there. It also amends RCW 43.185C.320 to provide that eligibility for HOPE beds includes truancy.
The bill creates a new section that specifies, subject to appropriation, that the capacity in CRCs shall be increased incrementally in order to accommodate truant students found in contempt of a court order to attend school, and that the additional capacity shall be distributed around the state, to the extent feasible, so that they are available for use by all courts.
The bill would task the EOGOAC with conducting a review and making recommendations to the Legislature regarding: the cultural competence training that therapeutic truancy board members and others involved in the truancy process should receive; best practices for supporting and facilitating parent/community outreach; and the cultural relevance of the assessments employed and treatments and tools provided to children and families.
The bill would task WSIPP with conducting a survey and evaluation of local practices under the act and other truancy statutes and reporting back to the Legislature.
As amended, the bill:
- retains the underlying bill, but adds references to additional types of training and treatment and academic supports. References to multi-systemic therapy and aggression replacement training are removed from the description of what treatments therapeutic truancy boards refer to. It also allows, but does not require, educational service districts to provide the training to TTBs.
- charges the WSIPP with doing both a study of local practices and an outcome evaluation.
- requires juvenile courts to provide data to the AOC regarding the extent to which courts order youth into a secure detention facility for violation of a court order related to truancy, at-risk youth, and children in need of services. The AOC is tasked with reporting annually
As amended by the Senate Mental Health, Human Services & Housing committee, the bill replaces text of bill with 2SSB 6497. The WSIPP study in 2SSB 6497 is expanded to include an evaluation as to whether this act led to increased school attendance. Major differences between 2SHB 2449 and 2SSB 6497 include: 1) a requirement for community truancy boards to be implemented statewide in districts with more than 200 students; 2) an expansion of community truancy board requirements to include evidence-based and data-informed steps to reduce absences; 3) specification of targets for the expansion of HOPE beds and CRC beds; 4) authorization is provided for a school district to use up to 2% of state Learning Assistance Program funding to support community truancy board activities.
The Senate adopted the Human Service committees amendments (outlined above) with no amendments through a striker.