A short history of compulsory attendance in WA state:

1897 — All students between 8 and 15 had to attend their local school for “at least three months” of the year.

1899 — Anyone living in a city of 10,000 of more had to send his 7-15yo children to school at least “6 full school months.”

1901 — They fixed the error from 1899 that created two classes but didn’t address them both, and bumped the beginning age back up to 8, so that everyone had to go at least 3 months a year, and children in “graded school districts in incorporated cities and towns” had to attend 6 months a year.

1903 — Still 8-15, but now 4 months a year, 3 of them had to be consecutive, and children in incorporated cities and town had to go for 5 months. And here, we see the first homeschooling exception in WA law: 1903 c 48, section 1 (2) “that such child is efficiently taught at home in such branches as are required by law to be taught in the schools of the district wherein such parents . . . reside.

1905 — Still 8-15, but now the attendance requirement is “for the full time in which such school may be in session,” and the homeschooling exception reads, “is otherwise being furnished with the same education.”

1907 — Holding at 8-15, still has the “is otherwise being furnished with the same education” exception, but has added that “proof of absence from public school or approved private school shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section.

1969 — Compulsory attendance now from 8-15, and 15-18yos who are not “regularly and lawfully engaged in some useful and remunerative occupation or attending school part time and are also employed, unless the 15-18yo is a highschool grad. The homeschooling exception is gone though there is an exception for a child who “has already attained a reasonable proficiency in the branches required by law to be taught in the first eight grades of the public schools of this state.”

1969 — Now it’s 8-15, and 15-16yos who aren’t “regularly and lawfully engaged in some useful and remunerative occupation” with an exception for a student who “has already attained a reasonable proficiency in the branches required by law to be taught in the first
nine grades of the public schools of this state as provided by the course of study of such school, or for some other sufficient
reason.”

1971 — 8-15, plus the unemployed 15-18yos (which makes you wonder if there’s a typo from 1969, or if they purposefully exempted a bunch of 16-18yos to go to Vietnam), and they’ve added an exemption for children in residential schools operated by the DSHS. Still an exemption for children who’ve passed 9th grade.

1971 — In a section pertaining to private schools (there apparently being a sudden proliferation of them, and the state suddenly stacking on regulations), we see some very familiar language: “The legislature hereby recognizes that private and/or
parochial schools should be subject only to those minimum state
controls necessary to insure the health and safety of all the
students in the state and to insure a sufficient basic education to
meet usual graduation requirements. The state, any agency or
official thereof, shall not restrict or dictate any specific
educational or other programs for private and/or parochial schools except as hereinafter in this section . . . .” (You’ll recognize this language from RCW 28A.200.020 — take a gander at the bottom of this page: http://washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/the-law/)

1972 — Still 8-15, plus unemployed 15-18yos. This year, they’re working to integrate special education into the local schools.

1979 — This year, the fine for truancy, which has been from 5-25 dollars, is changed to be 25 dollars “for each day of unexcused absence from school.” Please note that minimum wage in WA in 1979 was $2.30.

1980 — We get some interesting homeschooly language here — a new exemption:
“or has been excused upon the request of his or her parents, guardians, or persons in this state having custody of any such child, for purposes agreed upon by the school authorities and the parent, guardian or custodian: PROVIDED, That such excused absences shall not be permitted if deemed to cause a serious adverse effect upon the student’s educational progress:”
Compulsory attendance is still 8-15, plus unemployed 15-18yos

1985 — Here’s our HBI law as we know it. The compulsory attendance law is now 8-18. Part time attendance for homeschoolers is also established at this time.

1986 — “All parents in this state of any child eight years of age and under eighteen years of age shall cause such child to attend the public school of the district in which the child resides for the full time when such school may be in session” is changed to “All parents in this state of any child eight years of age and under eighteen years of age shall cause such child to attend the public school of the district in which the child resides and such child shall have the responsibility to and therefore shall attend for the full time when such school may be in session.”
It’s just interesting that the obligation has moved from being the parent’s to also being the child’s.

1996 — The exemption for students who gained 9th grade proficiency is removed. The exemption for employed students is bumped up to 16, and is changed from “engaged in a useful or
remunerative occupation” to “employed and either the parent agrees that the child should not be required to attend school or the child is emancipated.” The process by which truancy charges are filed is fleshed out this year. This is the result of the BECCA Bill.

1998 — The state finally compels the state to provide education to offenders under the age of 18 who have not completed a HS diploma or GED: “The program of education may include but not be limited to basic education, prevocational training, work ethic skills,
conflict resolution counseling, substance abuse intervention, and anger management counseling. The curriculum may balance these and other rehabilitation, work, and training components.” But simultaneously exempts children, “incarcerated in an adult correctional facility” from compulsory attendance.

2014 — Public school children are granted up to 2 days of excused absences for “a reason of faith or conscience, or an organized activity conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization” (and allows the school to claim them as an FTE).

~Jen GS