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Attendance and Truancy


Attendance is very important to success in school. In California, most students attend school only 180 days a year, so every day is significant. The State of California believes that education is essential for children and for our future. State law requires parents/guardians of children ages 6 to 18 to send their children to school unless otherwise provided by law. Parents who fail to meet this obligation may be subject to prosecution. (Ed.Code  48200,48290)

Accurate attendance accounting is necessary for compliance with statutory laws and the proper implementation of Board policies and regulations. It is also essential to ensure the accuracy of the information reported to the state. Such information becomes the basis for determining the amount of funding the district will receive from State apportionment revenues, accounting for approximately 80-85% of the General Fund’s revenues. Accordingly, the fines which are assessed by the state for errors made in reporting attendance are sufficiently high to encourage accuracy in the attendance accounting process. It is the responsibility of the district to take the necessary steps to ensure that the information reported by your attendance accounting system is as accurate and up-to-date as humanly possible. Attendance accounting must be made a high priority at all of the school sites to ensure that this goal is achieved.

Reporting Absences

If a student will be absent or tardy, parents or guardians should call the school attendance number before school begins that day. When the student returns, he or she should bring a written note signed by parent or guardian which includes the following: notification date, student’s full name, teacher’s name, grade, date(s) of absence, the reason of absence, and name and relationship of the person notifying the school. Absences not cleared within the time limit set by the child’s school will be recorded as a truancy.

Verification of Illness (Ed. Code 46011)

The statewide average absence rate for typical childhood illness is 5 days. Cambrian School District allows each parent to excuse up to 10 days without verification of illness from a medical professional or school employee. Anytime your child has a doctor’s appointment and/or documentation requiring them to stay home from school, provide this immediately when your student returns to school. These absences will be recorded and verified.

Students too ill to attend school after 10 days are required to bring verification of illness from a medical professional on their return to school. If your child is under the regular care of a physician for a serious or chronic condition, or they are directed to stay home by a medical professional before the 10 days are reached, you should provide the verification at that time. Absences for illnesses not verified after 10 days will be marked unexcused and subject the student and/or parents to compulsory education law guidelines.

Chronic Illness

If your student has a diagnosed chronic illness, you may receive a physician’s authorization to excuse absences for your child. The form requires the treating physician to verify diagnosis and list symptoms that would not necessitate an office visit, but require the student to remain home from school. With this authorization, the parent sends a note when the child returns to school listing one or more of the symptoms the physician has identified. These absences are considered verified. Please notify the district office if your child has a chronic illness.

Absences Allowed by Law (Ed. Code 46010, 48205)

It is important for parents to let the school know whenever their child is absent. However, under state law, an absence is considered ‘excused’ only for these reasons:

  • Illness: A child is too ill to attend school and/or if he or she has a contagious condition, a temperature of over 100, symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea, or written orders from a doctor to stay at home. If the child is ill 10 days or more, the school may require a note from a physician documenting the child’s illness and the necessity of having the child stay home from school.
  • Due to quarantine under the direction of a county or city health official.
  • For the purpose of having medical, dental, optometrical, and chiropractic services rendered.
  • For the purpose of attending the funeral services of a member of his or her immediate family, so long as the absence is not more than one day if the service conducted in California and not more than three days if the service is conducted outside California.
  • For the purpose of jury duty in the manner provided for by law
  • Due to the illness or medical appointment during school hours of a child of whom the pupil is the custodial parent.
  • For the justifiable personal reasons, including but not limited to:
  • An appearance in court
  • Attendance at a funeral service
  • Observance of a holiday of his or her religion
  • Attendance at religious retreats
  • Attendance at an employment conference
  • When the pupil’s absence has been requested in writing by the parent or guardian and approved by the principal or a designated representative pursuant to uniform standards established by the governing board.
  • A pupil absent from school under this section shall be allowed to complete all assignments and tests missed during the absence that can reasonably provided and, upon satisfactory completion within a reasonable period of time, shall be given full credit therefore. As the teacher of any class from which a pupil is absent shall determine the tests and assignments shall be reasonably equivalent to, but not necessarily identical to, the tests and assignments that the pupil missed during the absence.
  • For purposes of this section, attendance at religious retreats shall not exceed four hours per semester.
  • Absences pursuant to this section are deemed to be absences in computing average daily attendance and shall not generate state apportionment payments.
  • “Immediate Family” as used in this section, has the same meaning as that set for in SEction 45194, except that references therein to “employee” shall be deemed to be references in “pupil.”

(Amended by Stats. 1999, c.312, Sec.1, Reference: Ed. Code Sections 45194 and 48200)

Absences for most other reasons are considered unexcused, even if the parent notified the school. For some allowed absences, the parent/guardian must request the absence in advance in writing, and it must be approved by the principal. Whether the absence is excused or unexcused, the state only provided daily funding if a student is actually at school or on Independent Study.

A student absent for reasons allowed by law may complete missed assignments or tests that can reasonably be provided and will not have his/her grade reduced or lose academic credit if the assignments or tests are satisfactorily completed within a reasonable period of time.

Independent Study (short-term)

If a child will be out of school for three or more days for an unexcused reason (e.g., personal necessity), parents may contact the school within 10 days in advance, about arranging Independent Study. While schools accommodate most requests, certain criteria may lead to the school denying the request, including: within 10 days in advance notice, academic, attendance, or behavioral concerns, conflict with testing, or lack of resources to provide the service. Completion of Independent Study assignments will not be considered absences.

Confidential Medical Services Ed. Code 46010.1

By law, a student may be excluded from school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services, without the consent of the student’s parent or guardian. Otherwise, it is the practice of the Cambrian School District not to release students without parental consent.

Home and Hospital-Bound Students (Ed.Code 48206.3-48208)

Students who are unable to attend school due to serious injury or illness for a period of three weeks or more may be provided home instruction. The student’s condition must be verified by a physician. Students with mental health conditions must present authorization from a physical and a treatment plan from their therapist.

A student with a temporary physical, mental or emotional disability who is hospitalized or receiving care in a residential health facility, excluding state hospitals, may receive individual instruction from the school district in which the facility is located. The parent or guardian is responsible for notifying the school district about the student’s need for educational services. Contact the district to obtain information about other available educational alternatives.


State law defines a truant as a student who has an unexcused absence or is more than 30 minutes tardy three or more days in the one school year. Truant students and their parents are in violation of the law and are subject to prosecution and other penalties. (Ed. Code 48260, 48273)

Truancy/Excessive Absence Notification (Ed. Code 48620.5, 46011)

Written notices of truancy and excessive absences are required by law. Parents will receive a letter if their child has the equivalent of at least 3 days of unexcused absences or truancies. A second letter will be sent if the child has the equivalent of at least 2 additional days of unexcused absences or truancies. A parent conference will be required with the school administrator to discuss the child’s absences and how the school can work with the family to ensure the child’s success in school.  Parents will receive a third letter if a child has the equivalent of at least two additional days absent or truant.  Additional parent conferences and/or referral to the Student Study Team process may be necessary in order to discuss the child’s absences and how the school can work with the family to ensure the child’s success in school. 

Attendance Hearing (Ed. Code 48320, 48325)

When a student is truant and has excessive absences, the parents and the child may be required to attend a hearing before the School Attendance Review Board (SARB). The principal of the school may also attend the hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss the child’s attendance record and develop a plan for the child’s regular participation in an educational program.

Referral to Santa Clara County Office of Education and/or District Attorney

If a child’s school attendance does not improve after a SARB hearing, or if the parents fail to attend a required SARB hearing, the parents and the child may be referred to the Santa Clara County Office of Education for mediation and/or the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution through the court system. Students 12 years of age and older may be referred to the Juvenile Court for adjudication.