Long Term Absence

Each year, TOPS receives many letters from parents asking permission for their student(s) to be absent from school for an extended period of time. Keeping track of these absences, TOPS must align with the district Policy on long-term absences.  This policy reads in part:

Planned absences are excused when you submit a request to the principal at leastthree school days before the start of the planned absence.  Long-term absences or a succession of long-term absences may affect whether your child will be promoted.  Absences for longer then twenty consecutive days will result in your child being dropped from TOPS school enrollment.

Excused vs. Unexcused Family Trips To be excused, a trip or vacation needs to meet SPS criteria for being excused. 

  • Just going to another city, country or out of state, for vacation or to visit family or friends and nothing else, would not be excused.
  • A trip for a wedding or other family event is not automatically excused.  Neither is a trip for the holidays that gets extended because of the distance traveled.
  • At least five days of a trip for a funeral can be excused, but any part that would be added beyond this simply for a desire to visit family for a longer period of time may not be excused.

If you are planning on a long-term absence (5 or more consecutive days), please fill out the Planned Absence Form and return it to the TOPS office. The request will have to be approved by the principal before the child can be excused.


The following Seattle School District definitions apply to students at all ages:

Excused Absences:

Unplanned absences are excused when your child’s personal illness or injury, or the illness, injury or death of a family member, prevents your child from attending school. The school requires a note from your child’s doctor before excusing absences if your child is absent due to illness or injury more than 10 days.

Planned absences are excused when you submit a request to the principal or assistant principal at least three school days before the start of the planned absence, usually for a doctor or dentist appointment, or religious, or other special one-time events. Long-term absences or a succession of long-term absences may affect whether your child will be promoted. Absences for longer than twenty consecutive school days may result in your child being dropped from school enrollment.

Absences due to short-term discipline of your child are excused on District attendance records unless your child is under court order to attend school without additional truancies or behavior problems.

Unexcused Absences:

All other absences are considered unexcused, including absences caused by the student or parent oversleeping, student missing the bus, transportation problems, student needed for babysitting or translating for parents, student job requirements, disputes about student assignment, etc.

Family vacations or family trips during regular school days are not excused.

Before planning appointments and trips, please review the school calendar for the date range you are considering. Student attendance at school is very important to their academic progress. Missing school days or testing days creates challenges for our staff, as well as your child’s educational success. We appreciate your consideration in making sure that your child(ren) are punctual and attend school every possible day.

Absences by long-term suspended and expelled students for whom space is available in the reentry program, but who do not enroll and attend, are unexcused.