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AGO 1957 No. 141 - December 13, 1957
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- APPORTIONMENT ALLOWANCE REDUCED BY NONATTENDANCE

A school district may not be allowed apportionment credit for nonattendance due to illness when the school is not closed by order of a health officer.

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                                                               December 13, 1957

Honorable Lloyd J. Andrews
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 141

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your request for an opinion concerning your authority to apportion moneys for attendance credits to local school districts.  We paraphrase your question as follows:

            May a school district be allowed apportionment credit for nonattendance due to illness when the school is not closed by order of a health officer?

            We answer your question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 28.41.060 (1955 Supp.) authorizes the state superintendent of public instruction to compute and apportion the amount due each school district from state funds for attendance credit based on "estimates of pupil attendance".  However, the statute also provides that the state superintendent shall make

            ". . . such adjustments . . . in the amount apportioned to each school district during the following school year  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] as may be necessary to compensate for differences between the amount apportioned during the preceding school year on thebasis of attendance credit estimated. . . and the amount of the district's entitlement on the basis of the actual number of days of attendance credit for the year. . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

            Under this statute a district's ultimate entitlement to state funds is based on "actual number of days of attendance credit".  Consequently, nonattendance of pupils may reduce the amount of state funds which is received by a school district.

            RCW 28.48.070 provides several exceptions to this general rule.  The pertinent provision of this statute authorizes the state superintendent of public instruction to allow a district attendance credit not to exceed fifteen days for any one student in spite of nonattendance if

            "(1) The school board of any district is obliged to close a schoolby order of any health officer on account of prevalence of infectious or contagious diseases; . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            In our opinion, RCW 28.48.070 is clear and unambiguous and must be interpreted according to its terms.  In re Baker's Estate, 49 Wn. (2d) 609, 610.  Under its terms, the superintendent of public instruction may allow a district attendance credit in spite of nonattendance only if the district is obliged to close a school "by order of any health officer".

            We recognize the hardship that may result from a decrease in school district revenues due to nonattendance of pupils during the recent influenza epidemic.  However, our research fails to disclose any statutory authority for the superintendent of public instruction to allow attendance credit for nonattendance due to illness, unless such nonattendance is caused by a school being closed by order of a health officer.

            We trust this information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General


ELVIN J. VANDEGERG
Assistant Attorney General

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