Office of School Counseling » Laws About CA Compulsory Education (English)

Laws About CA Compulsory Education (English)

A Guide to California State Law Regarding

School Attendance

Alhambra High School

101 S. Second Street Alhambra, CA 91801



Ms. Diana Diaz-Ferguson

(626) 943-6910


Assistant Principal of

School Counseling

Ms. Sharon Ferry

(626) 943-6930


   Attendance Hours: 8:00 - 3:45

Guidance Hours: 8:00 - 3:45


How to report an absence:


By phone:  Call (626) 943-6916

By note:  The note must include:

 (Please print)


  1.        The student’s name and ID #
  2.         Parent/Guardian’s name
  3.        Date(s) of absence
  4.        Reason for absence
  5.        Parent/Guardian signature

*    *    *    *    *    *    * 


Laws about California Compulsory Education

California Education Code (EC) 48200 requires all children between the ages of 6 and 18 to attend school. Parents are responsible for their minor children and are required to comply with the laws related to school attendance.


Excused Absences

Students may be excused from school for the following reasons:

  •     Personal illness & injury
  •      Medical/Dental appointments
  •      Attendance of funeral services for a member of the immediate family, so long as the absence is not more than one day if the service is conducted in California, and not more than three (3) days if the service is conducted outside of California
  •       Quarantine under the direction of a county or city health officer
  •       Jury duty in the manner provided by law
  •       Pupil is custodial parent of a child who is ill or has a medical appointment during school
  •       Exclusion from school because the student is either the carrier of a contagious disease, or not immunized for a contagious disease
  •       To spend time with pupil’s immediate family member who is an active duty member of the uniformed services, and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from, deployment to combat zone or combat support position. The school Superintendent shall determine the period of time to be excused 
  •       Pupils in grade 7-12 who leave school (with prior approval of the principal of his/her designee) to obtain confidential medical services. The pupil is to return a copy of the medical professional’s appointment verification form
  •       Attendance to the pupil’s naturalization ceremony to become a United States Citizen
  •       Pupil is serving as a member of a precinct board of an election pursuant to Section 12302 of the Elections Code

Students may also be excused from school for the following reasons when requested by parents in writing and approved by a school official:

Reasons include, but not limited to:

  •       Observation of a holiday or ceremony of his/her religion
  •       Attendance at religious retreats not to exceed four hours per semester
  •       Employment interview of conference
  •       Attendance at funeral services for someone not a member of the immediate family
  •       Family emergency
  •       Appearance at SARB or SART
  •       College matters
  •       Appearance in court

A student with a valid excused absence is not subject to disciplinary action and is allowed to make up all assignments and tests within a reasonable amount of time. 


Unexcused Absences

All absences that are not excused as defined are considered unexcused.



Students are deemed truant if they have three (3) or more days of unexcused absence or tardies of more than thirty (30) minutes in one school year.


A student is declared a habitual truant when the student has a combination of six (6) or more days of unexcused absence or tardies.  Once identified as a habitual truant the student may be referred to the School Attendance Review Board, the district attorney, or a probation officer for violation of the law (EC 48264.5).


Parents or guardians who willfully fail to respond to a truancy situation may be criminally charged (EC 48293).


What happens when a student is deemed a “Truant?”

California state law (EC 48260.5) requires that parents are notified of the following:

  1.        The child is a truant.
  2.        Parents are obligated to compel attendance of their child.
  3.        Parents may be prosecuted for failure to meet this obligation.
  4.        Alternative educational programs are available.
  5.        Parents have the right to meet with school officials to discuss solutions to the student’s truancy.
  6.        The student may be arrested.
  7.        The student may be subject to delay suspension of his or her driving license.
  8.        It is recommended that the parent accompany the student and attend classes with the student for one (1) day.

What happens next?

California State Law and the Alhambra Unified School District have a four step process for addressing truancy.

  1. School Attendance Review Team (SART). Once the parent has been notified that the student is a “truant” and the student continues to have unexcused absences the parent will be called before the School Attendance Review Team (SART). The school principal, teachers, and staff want to work together with you and your child.  During this informal meeting the parent/guardian will have an opportunity to review the child’s school records and hear the concerns of the school staff.


  1. The School Attendance Review Board (SARB) Once identified as a habitual truant the student may be referred to the School Attendance Review Board, the district attorney, or a probation officer for violating the law (EC 48264.5). Members of SARB include the police department, the district attorney’s office, public social services and probation. Parents will be given directives from the Board with the expectations that school attendance will improve.


  1. The District Attorney

The SARB will file charges with the District Attorney’s office for criminal prosecution if attendance does not improve.  Parents will need to appear before a hearing officer.      


  1. Superior Court

If attendance still does not improve, the parent and student will be subpoenaed to appear before a judge in the Superior Court in Pasadena.  This is very serious.  Penalties may include:

  1.        A fine up to $500.00
  2.        Jail time for the parents
  3.        Probation for the student
  4.        Removal of the student from the home and placed into foster care