SCHOOLS -- ATTENDANCE RECORDS ‑- MINIMUM TERM OF SCHOOL REQUIRED BY LAW.
1. If the official school records of the county do not show any attendance for a school district, county superintendent may conclude that the school district has not had an average daily attendance of five or more pupils.
2. A school district has failed to maintain the minimum term of school required by law where the district has not maintained a school in the district or made arrangements with another district to educate the pupils.
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July 13, 1950
Honorable Pearl A. Wanamaker
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 49-51 No. 301
Attention: !ttMr. Elmer L. Breckner, Asst. Superintendent in Chargeof Administration and Finance
You have requested an opinion from this office on the following questions relating to an interpretation of Section 18, chapter 266, Laws of 1947:
1. If the official school records of a county do not show any attendance for a school district, may the county superintendent conclude that the school district has not had an average daily attendance of five or more pupils?
2. May the county superintendent conclude that the school district in question has failed to maintain during the last preceding school year the minimum term of school required by law?
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:
1. The county superintendent may determine that the school district has not had an average daily attendance of five or more pupils on the basis of the official county records.
2. The school district has failed to maintain the minimum school required by law.
The facts out of which the present request for an opinion arose are as follows: School District "X" has not operated a school for several years. The pupils residing therein have attended school in District "Y" under an agreement between the boards of directors of the two districts entered into annually whereby District "X" paid District "Y" an amount stipulated in the contract. The Board of Directors of District "Y" declined to renew the agreement for the current year ending June 30, 1950. The pupils residing in District "X," however, have continued to attend school in District "Y" except that no payment has been made by District "X" to cover the cost of educating such pupils in District "Y". District "X" has stood ready at all times to renew the agreement heretofore entered into annually between the two districts. The report of the county superintendent of schools for the year ending June 30, 1950, will not show any attendance for District "X" since the attendance records of the pupils therefrom has been kept by District "Y" and the attendance counted as a part of the attendance of the latter district. Actually, however, the number of pupils residing in District "X", but attending school in District "Y", will equal or exceed an average daily attendance of five pupils.
Section 18, chapter 226, Laws of 1947 (§ 4693-37 Rem. Supp. 1947) provides as follows:
"In case any school district shall have an average daily attendance of fewer than five (5) pupils or shall not have maintained, during the last preceding school year at least the minimum term of school required by law, the County Superintendent shall report said fact to the County [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] Committee, which Committee shall give consideration to the question of the dissolution of the school district and the annexation of the territory thereof to some other district or districts. In case any territory is not a part of any school district, the County Superintendent shall present to the County Committee a proposal for the annexation of said territory to some contiguous district or districts."
Section 4, Title III, Chapter 3, Article VII, Chapter 97, Laws of 1909 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 4874) provides as follows:
"If a pupil attends any public school of the state, outside of his resident district, up to the ninth grade, during the time the resident district maintains a school of the grade in which the pupil belongs, the attendance shall be credited to the district in which the pupil resides, unless mutually agreed otherwise by the directors of the two districts."
Section 3, chapter 28, Laws of 1933 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 4719) provides in part:
"* * * A local district may be authorized by the county superintendent of schools to educate its pupils in another district for one year, either by the payment of a compensation agreed upon by such school districts, or under other terms mutually satisfactory to the districts concerned when this will afford better educational facilities for the pupils and when a saving may be effected in the cost of education. Such authorization may be extended at the discretion of the county superintendent."
In the present case no agreement has been entered into between the two school districts, and the one school district has not maintained any school in its own district for several years. Section 7, Title III, chapter 1, chapter 97, Laws of 1909 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 4691) requires all school districts in the [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] state to maintain school during at least six months of each year. Section 5, Title III, chapter 5, chapter 97, Laws of 1909 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 4875) describes the method whereby a school district whose resident pupils are attending school in another district may claim the attendance of such pupils, but that section appears to be inapplicable in the present instance, however, in view of the fact that school district "X" has not maintained any school in the district for some time.
This office has held in prior opinions to your office that under the preceding statutes a school district is authorized to educate all of its pupils in an adjoining district under an agreement between that district and the adjoining district.
In an opinion issued May 11, 1942, to your office we ruled as follows:
"* * * There is no doubt that after the 1933 act (R.R.S. 4719, supra) a district which educated all of its pupils in another district under the provisions of section 4719 'maintained' school for its resident pupils and thus did not fall into any classification under section 4764 which would allow disorganization the following year by the county superintendent on his own motion."
It is to be noted that although Rem. Rev. Stat. 4764 referred to in that opinion was repealed and superseded by 4693-37 Rem. Supp. 1947, supra, the wording of the pertinent portions of the section are identical.
See also the opinions of this office issued on May 22, 1934, to the Prosecuting Attorney of Douglas County, and on November 15, 1939, to the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The school district in question has not been able to enter into an agreement with another school district to educate all of its pupils, so that it can be said to have "maintained" a school under the pertinent statutes and prior opinions of this office. Nor can it claim the attendance of its pupils who are attending school in another district inasmuch as it has not maintained a school in the resident district for the grades in which the pupils belong. Since the district has not complied with Rem. Rev. Stat. 4874 and 4875, the [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] only attendance record for the pupils is that maintained by the school district where the pupils actually attend school. In view of the foregoing statutes, we do not think that the county superintendent is required to go behind the attendance records of the school district where the pupils receive their schooling to determine where the pupils reside.
Accordingly, you are advised in answer to your first question that it is our opinion that under the facts above stated the county superintendent of schools may determine that School District "X" has not had a daily attendance of five or more pupils during the school year 1949-1950 on the basis of the official records of the county.
Your second question is concerned with whether or not District "X" has maintained the minimum term of school required by law. It seems clear from the past opinions of this office and the pertinent statutes involved that if the agreement between District "X" and District "Y" were still in effect, District "X" would have maintained during the last preceding school year the minimum term of school required by law. However, inasmuch as no such agreement has been entered into for the year 1949-1950, and no school for pupils of any grade has been maintained by the school district, it is our opinion that District "X" has failed to maintain the minimum term of school required by law.
Very truly yours,
Assistant Attorney General