Attendance, Tardies, and SARB » Compulsory Attendance Law

Compulsory Attendance Law

Graduation and Dropout Rates Suggest Many Students Get Lost in the System

The ultimate goal of truancy prevention programs provided by School Attendance and Review Boards (SARBs) and prosecutions by the district attorneys is to help reduce the number of dropouts in the state's education system and increase the number of high school graduates.


California's Compulsory Education Laws (E.C. 48200)

California's compulsory education laws require children between six and eighteen years of age to attend school, with a limited number of specified exceptions. Under state law, a pupil who, without a valid excuse, is absent from school for three full days in one school year, or is tardy or absent for more than 30 minutes during the school day on three occasions in one school year, is considered truant. Once a student is designated a truant, state law requires schools, districts, counties, and courts to intervene to ensure that parents and pupils receive certain services to assist them in complying with attendance laws. When these various interventions fail—meaning parents or guardians still do not send a child to school or a student misses an unlawful amount of school—the matter is referred to the courts. Courts can then use penalties or other measures to seek compliance. Essentially, these various interventions exist to ensure that pupils remain in school and that a pattern is not established that could lead to their dropping out of school later in their educational career.


Excused Absences (Ed Code 48205)

Students who are absent from school for any reasons provided in 48205 are not in violation of the compulsory attendance law upon verification by the district of the reason for the absence.


This regulation states a student may be excused legally from school when the absence is due to:

  • Personal illness or injury
  • Quarantine under the direction of a county or city health officer
  • Medical, dental, optometric, or chiropractic services rendered
  • Attendance at funeral services for a member of the immediate family (1 day within the state/3 days if out of state)
  • Exclusion for failure to present evidence of immunization (Education Code 48216)
  • Exclusion from school because student is either the carrier of a contagious disease or not immunized for a contagious disease (EducationCode 48213)
  • Pupils in grades 7-12 who leave school (with prior approval of the Principal or his/her designee) to obtain confidential medical services. The pupil should return a copy of the medical professional's appointment verification form.
  • Time for a student to spend time with a family member who is being deployed or returning from deployment
  • Upon written request of the parent or guardian and approval of the Principal or his/her designee,) and pursuant to board policy, a student's personal justifiable absence may be excused. Reasons include, but are not limited to:
    • Appearance in court.
    • Observation of a holiday or ceremony of his/her religion.
    • Attendance at religious retreats not to exceed four (4) hours per semester.
    • Attendance at funeral services (for other than the immediate family)