Update: Excused absences Wednesday? Seattle Public Schools superintendent now says it’s up to individual principals

Seattle Public Schools has just gone public with a clarification about its policy regarding absences tomorrow. Now SPS superintendent José Banda says each individual school can decide whether absences will be excused or unexcused. The district has released a message sent to principals – who then should be advising their respective school communities how they will handle it (below it, we’ll be adding whatever we hear from individual WS schools):

Thank you for your participation in the District Leadership Team meeting today, and for taking the time to talk collectively about student achievement.

I enjoyed our discussion around Wednesday’s Seahawks parade, and I applaud your efforts to build a sense of community and celebration at each of your schools tomorrow. I know how important it is for our students and staff to celebrate this historic Super Bowl win. As I mentioned, our schools are a place of home for many of our students, and I know our kids will be fired up to celebrate tomorrow. This Seahawks season has taught us about teamwork, practice and community pride. Watching part of the parade together during lunch is a great activity. I hope you will share photos and stories of your school celebrations.

That said, I do understand the implications on students at different grade levels. I want you to have the flexibility to do what you feel is best for your school community. Under state regulation, you do have the discretion to decide if students who miss school tomorrow for the parade will be considered unexcused or excused. I will support your decision.

Principals, if you need additional supports tomorrow, please work with your Executive Director of Schools.


Here’s our original Monday story with Banda’s first statement plus views from Mayor Murray and two local school employees.

We will add information here with anything we find about individual local schools – any schools reading this, please let us know if you send out a message; we’ll also check schools’ websites.

6:41 PM: So far, we have heard that Schmitz Park Elementary, Alki Elementary, and Pathfinder K-8 are excusing absences. This is from Pathfinder principal David Dockendorf:

In the spirit of community involvement and support for the NFL Champion Seahawks, Pathfinder K-8 will allow excused absences for students to attend the parade on Wednesday. Like any absence, please contact the school by telephone or note to excuse your child.

Pam shared the statement from Alki’s principal Shannon Stanton:

It’s no secret that at Alki, we support the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks! This year, I have shared with students some of life’s lessons we can learn from our local team during our Alki Way assemblies: goal setting, perseverance, teamwork, kindness, and now celebrations! The best, and most high functioning teams, take time to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments. Our students have signed posters declaring that we are “All in, 100%” for “Learn Mode”. Our posters can be seen in the main hallway and in our lunchroom. Please come by to see them.

On February 5, parade day, Alki Elementary will open its doors to our students, as we do each and every school day. Students and staff are invited to make it “Blue Wednesday” and wear Seahawk or Alki colors to school. We are making plans to have an indoor recess option for interested students during their lunch recess where they can elect to watch the parade together to share in the celebration along with many other citizens of our city and community.

If you are planning on attending the parade with your Alki child(ren), please call the absence in as you normally would to the attendance line, 206-252-9054. As another principal shared earlier this week, we are like the Seahawks, “Safety First”! We want to make sure we have accounted for all of our students. And please note that your child’s attendance at this historic community event will be excused from school.

47 Replies to "Update: Excused absences Wednesday? Seattle Public Schools superintendent now says it's up to individual principals"

  • M2 February 4, 2014 (2:52 pm)

    Schmitz Park letter to families just came through email. Here’s the gist from the note from Liora Minkin, Assistant Principal: “We will be excusing absences tomorrow as “parent approved activities.”

    For those not attending they have some great plans:

    “We will be having our own special celebration at school tomorrow with an assembly in the morning, presented by our amazing 2nd graders, and we’ll be watching the parade on our big screen at lunch. I’m sure Seahawks-infused learning will be taking place throughout the building!”

    I consider this a positive response. This isn’t just a sporting event, this is a COMMUNITY event.

  • Cami February 4, 2014 (3:31 pm)

    Any news from West Seattle High?

  • Alki February 4, 2014 (3:31 pm)

    It blows my mind how there will be early dismissal tomorrow yet kids are expected to stay in school during such a great event. The elementary school is allowing kids to go “excused”, but if a sibling in the older schools go, its unexcused. Im not allowing the school to dictate what special events my kid goes to but will say, there’s been mass confusion on this issue.If anything, kids should’ve been in school and then taken by buses downtown for this amazing celebration. Im taking my kids and whomever can fit in my car as well.It’s too bad some kids will be sitting in classrooms.

  • elarem February 4, 2014 (3:33 pm)

    How cowardly of the district to leave it up to individual principals. Have a backbone and define your policy one way or the other. In this case the district, not principals, should bear the brunt of parents’ pleasure or displeasure.

  • MCJ February 4, 2014 (3:40 pm)

    Learning is alive and well at Seattle Public Schools. He fixed historical/historic.

  • Mike February 4, 2014 (3:48 pm)

    Talk about passing the buck. Schmitz Park is doing it right,

  • Seattleite February 4, 2014 (3:49 pm)

    If this silly event is excused as a “parent approved absence”, I fully expect our family trips to be excused as well.

  • Robert February 4, 2014 (3:55 pm)

    What’s the big deal? This will be a yearly occurrence for the next couple of years. :-)

  • Genesee Hill February 4, 2014 (3:56 pm)

    I am disappointed that Ed Murray got in the act.

    Mr. Banda should call the shots.

  • sgs February 4, 2014 (4:19 pm)

    Sounds like Schmitz Park will be a fun place to be tomorrow. I don’t think my kid will feel like she missed out. We’ll go to school.

  • Nick February 4, 2014 (4:36 pm)

    Only Seattle schools – my kids will enjoy this event.

  • cami@webcami.com February 4, 2014 (4:42 pm)

    “Seattle’s Roosevelt High School announced they would allow excused absences.” – via King 5 –

  • HotCoffee February 4, 2014 (4:45 pm)

    MLK Day, Friday between the semesters plus upcoming Winter Break. That’s already 7 days off in a month of class. You want another one just so kids can watch the parade go by? The District should not have punted, I agree – they should have laid down the law and said “taxpayers fund us to educate the kids and school is in session.” And leaders like the Mayor and Coach Carroll should have said “Stay in School.” You want to take your kids out, fine – but don’t expect an excused absence and definitely don’t expect the school to shut down. That would be inexcusable.

  • pam February 4, 2014 (4:58 pm)

    Alki’s Principal is planning to excuse her students so that they can attend the parade!! She reminds families to call in, as we would for any other absence, so that the school can make sure all of the students are accounted for.
    Wear your green and blue and a big proud smile tomorrow- no matter where you plan to be!! What an awesome day for our community!!

  • M2 February 4, 2014 (5:03 pm)

    Seattleite – This “silly event” is something that has not occurred in our community since 1979. Your family trips should take priority over any school policy about approved or unexcused absences. It is and always has been your prerogative to chose what is best for your children. We do vacations with our son and their “policy” can be damned. If he misses some time at school, but completes his work to the satisfaction of his teachers, I am happy to have educational trips with my son to foreign lands and new experiences. I don’t know if there is an updated document, but this one that I found suggests that students do not receive a truancy petition until they have 7 unexcused absences in a month or 10 days for a school year. Yes, you have to do some sort of attendance conference with the teacher if you miss two consecutive days, but that sounds like a bit of procedural fluff. So, if this is an up-to-date document, I can go explore Mayan ruins with my son for 11 days straight (if timed right with the weekends) and the only repercussions are that I just have to do a little coffee klatch with the teacher (as long as his school work is completed). Works for me.

    here is the document I was referencing: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/truancy/D40.00SP.pdf

  • M2 February 4, 2014 (5:04 pm)

    apologies – here is the document I was referencing: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/truancy/D40.00SP.pdf

  • pam February 4, 2014 (5:09 pm)

    Alki’s principal is planning to excuse absences for those students who attend the parade! Families should still call in and report the absence, as we would for any other reason, so that the school can make sure all of the students are accounted for.
    No matter where you plan to be, wear your blue and green and your Seattle pride!

  • Marty February 4, 2014 (5:25 pm)

    Make a decision! This doesn’t do much for showing your leadership abilities.

  • lk February 4, 2014 (5:47 pm)

    Any word on Denny?

  • Trickycoolj February 4, 2014 (6:42 pm)

    I find this all so odd. My high school’s policy was that all absences were excused if you had a parent note or call (if sick). When you had 6 a letter was mailed home, 9 you were on probation, 12 and you had to go on attendance appeal and your teacher could drop you from class. I got a letter once since the school band went on so many field trips it wasn’t the end of the world. Field trips, vacation, sick, appointments, etc all equal and tracked by class period. Of course it was pretty easy to game the system once you turned 18 senior year and could sign yourself out.

  • Drama free February 4, 2014 (7:35 pm)

    So many sourpusses! School should officially be in session, if for nothing else than the kids who don’t like/ don’t know football, or the kids to whom the daily lunch is the one meal they count on (and that even happens in West Seattle)

    All other absences should be discreetly ignored. That’s all there is to it.

  • Mary February 4, 2014 (8:00 pm)

    I know this is an exciting event for the city, but allowing kids to miss school for the parade makes it really hard on working parents. I can’t take the day off at the last minute, but I wasn’t too worried about it because I thought most kids would be in school still. Now, with only a few hours’ notice, I can’t change my work schedule, but it’s possible quite a few kids will be out tomorrow. It’s hard enough to not be at school as often as other parents, and now this makes it even harder.

  • happy February 4, 2014 (8:18 pm)

    I’d bet that there will be teachers showing some live feed of the parade, for the students who do go to school on Wednesday.
    As for those who are coming down with the Blue Flu, keep your spirits up and surely you’ll be healthy again soon! = )

  • Alki resident February 4, 2014 (8:44 pm)

    @Mary- Im taking kids down there tomorrow, why don’t you see if your kid can ride with a friend.

  • mariem February 4, 2014 (8:45 pm)

    Agree with Mary. This whole thing is a giant mess and missed opportunity for our families. Mistake #1- Seahawks org. not thinking more inclusively when scheduling the victory parade for the community. #2- the way the district has handled it. Kids that go to school as they should are penalized and miss the celebration, and there is no consequence for those who skip school.

    I hope the teacher at my kiddos school will do a live feed but no one will answer me on this one way or the other.

  • Lura February 4, 2014 (9:56 pm)

    Schools regularly have spirit assemblies – time taken away from hard core academics for purposes of community building and community celebration. I presume they do that because they have observed that strong positive feelings of community create a better learning environment.
    I don’t see this as celebrating football per se, but rather a wonderful opportunity to celebrate being in a community. That sense of community can have wonderful ongoing effects, at schools, in our neighborhoods, in our city. Rich people, homeless people, young, old, newcomer, oldtimer, immigrant – this is a moment when its easy to smile at each other and be neighbors.
    Is it weird that professional sports – a money-making business – does this? Sure, that’s a bit strange. But so what? It’s how we are wired. We might as well get the benefit of a stronger sense of communty and celebrate that while it is available.

  • Dunno February 4, 2014 (9:57 pm)

    1st time in 38 years of Seattle Seahawk Football.
    Keep the kids in school, there’s no lesson to be learned from this. This is the I generation, and there’s no i in team. Let them out!!!

  • justme February 4, 2014 (9:58 pm)

    Funny, I don’t see much difference in this parade and the “Do the Puyallup” every September. The schools even hand out free and/or discounted tickets to the fair knowing the kids will miss school.

    I think the schools were just not prepared for the win so didn’t have a plan in place first. My son commutes to school along 99 and I’m considering keeping him home just because of the traffic nightmare.

  • Lura February 4, 2014 (10:01 pm)

    For most kids, missing tomorrow’s school day won’t have any big negative effect.
    BUT, at West Seattle High School, some students have to retake the Biology EOC exam tomorrow, and skipping the test could mean an entire 5th year of high school to graduate. That could be a problem.

  • LivesInWS February 4, 2014 (10:23 pm)

    Missing school for a parade? Over a bunch of overpaid guys running around beating up other overpaid guys chasing a ball? That’s a “learning experience?”

    What drivel.

  • LivesInWS February 4, 2014 (10:24 pm)

    “Community experience” over a football team looks like mob thinking.

  • alki resident February 4, 2014 (10:37 pm)

    Livesinws- I bet you’re a riot at parties.

  • Ms. Sparkles February 4, 2014 (11:18 pm)

    I’m with Seattlleite & LivesInWS- this is dumb, wasteful and I find it offensive that SPS (via punting to the principals) is enabling the continued mis-placed value our society has on superfluous fleeting entertainers.

  • ryanm February 5, 2014 (7:30 am)

    What if the plan was to teach kids that 2+2=4 today, and because the kids missed school to go to the parade they never learn that equation. One day, at a critical moment, they are asked to calculate 2+2, what are they going to do? They missed that day in school! I would probably cry…

    Go Hawks! Let the kids party!

  • Anne February 5, 2014 (9:09 am)

    While I agree that “punting” the decision to the principals is spineless move by SPS-I don’t think it’s misplaced to put value on coming together as a city/as fans to celebrate. Everyone has their opinion on sports-athletes. I see many of the players for the Seahawks interacting in our community, visiting schools & hospitals, sharing their faith & giving back-to characterize them as
    ” superfluous fleeting entertainers” or
    “a bunch of overpaid guys running around beating up other overpaid guys chasing a ball” really does these men a disservice. But if that’s your opinion-you’re welcome to it–it’s definitely not mine & looks like it’s not the opinion of the estimated 500,000 predicted to show up.
    Proud to have the Seattle Seahawks representing our city-proud to be a fan & if your school is excusing absences today–awesome & if you & /or your kids are going to the celebration–HAVE FUN!!

  • let them swim February 5, 2014 (9:31 am)

    @Ms. Sparkless and LivesInWS,
    Too bad over one MILLION people disagree with your Victorian attitude!! LOL GO HAWK FANS

    • WSB February 5, 2014 (9:47 am)

      Just for the record: Our source at one local high school says 13 of 28 students were present for his first-period class today.

  • A February 5, 2014 (10:53 am)

    SP and Alki sound great. Gatewood not so much.

  • Seattleite February 5, 2014 (11:27 am)

    I’m all for skipping school for a day of fun and even considered it if only for the adventure of it.

    It’s just the mindset that sports really matter as anything besides mindless entertainment and are worth this much mania and expense really bothers me.

    Have fun!

    • WSB February 5, 2014 (11:29 am)

      Seattle Public Schools has sent an update saying 1 in 4 kids and 1 in 5 teachers is out today.

  • Ms. Sparkles February 5, 2014 (12:12 pm)

    Let them Swim – my mindset is many things, but Victorian isn’t one of them. They won a game. That’s. It.

  • mfrench February 5, 2014 (12:59 pm)

    Ms. Sparkles: I’d lay a bet on the fact that Richard Sherman’s pinky finger has done more non-football related good for more young people than you have in your dreams, so no, they didn’t just win a game, they do lots of other amazing things too.

  • RShermansPinky February 5, 2014 (1:15 pm)

    Please don’t bring me into this, mfrench. He’s the one with the big attitude and the “my pinky is the best pinky in the LEAGUE!” stuff. I’m just trying to stay close to ring finger here and maybe show the kids that the [, ‘, /, = and “Enter” buttons are important.

  • Alphonse February 5, 2014 (4:42 pm)

    I’ve lived all over the U.S., and rude New Yorkers can’t hold a candle to dour, smugly disapproving Seattleites. I look forward to voting no on the next school funding proposal and instead spending my money on Seahawks swag. Because only things that I find important actually are important.

  • B February 5, 2014 (5:22 pm)

    Today my son learned a very important life lesson from WSH even though he wasn’t there and will receive an unexused absence. Today he learned that you can’t go through every moment of every day being so rigid that it feels like there’s a stick up your arse. Sometimes you have to jerk the stick out and scream GO SEAHAWKS!

  • sophia February 5, 2014 (6:53 pm)

    I hate the school district who the hell would go to school on a day like this

  • Jay Johnson February 5, 2014 (11:41 pm)

    I go to Sealth and all the teachers knew kids weren’t going to come to school so they weren’t going to teach anything new and it was a block day which means we only have half if our classes and give us a break we just got done with a hard semester with finals and all

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