Q: My spouse and I are going thru custody case.I learned child has missed 12 days-47 tardy. Is this neglect?
A: It's difficult to answer this without more information regarding the cause of the absences. Neglect in Washington is defined as negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and safety is harmed. In Washington, unexcused absences can result in a separate court action called a truancy proceeding. The truancy proceeding would be brought by the school district. There are very specific procedural safeguards outlined in the truancy statute that the school district must comply with before bringing a truancy action; after they have met those, if a child has more than 10 unexcused absences in a school year, or 5 unexcused absences in a month, the school district can file a truancy petition. It is in your child's best interest to figure out the underlying cause(s) of the unexcused absences, and help him/her with those barriers, as it may or may not have anything to do with the other parent. If you believe the other parent is causing the unexcused absences or contributing to them in some way, you should raise this issue in family court with documentation including school records. This answer is not intended as legal advice, and it is always best to consult an attorney about your individual circumstances for advice.
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