What does the Law say about School Attendance?
California Education Code (EC) states that all children between 6 and 18 years of age are required to attend school, and their parents have a legal responsibility to ensure their child’s attendance. The law also states that a student’s refusal to attend school regularly can result in a referral to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB), Juvenile Probation, and the Juvenile Court System. Additionally, parents who fail to compel their child’s attendance may face criminal prosecution and penalties.
- EC48200 – Each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years, not otherwise exempted, is subject to compulsory full-time education.
- 48260(a) – Any pupil subject to compulsory, full-time education or to compulsory continuation education who is absent from school without valid excuse three full days in one school year or tardy or absent more than any 30 minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof, is a truant and shall be reported to the attendance supervisor or to the superintendent of the school district.
What is the SARB Process?
The mission of the School Attendance Review Board (SARB) is to help students stay in school, attend school regularly, and graduate. The SARB is also a community-based effort to bring together resources to assist those families experiencing attendance and/or truancy issues. The SARB is a level of intervention designed with intention of preventing involvement with the court system related to attendance and/or truancy.
A serious attendance problem often begins with a few unexcused absences. The School Attendance Review Team (which may include school counselors, teachers, prevention officers, etc.) is first brough in to help students and families at the school site level. When the school (and the SART) has exhausted all resources and a student's attendance has not improved, then a family may be referred to a SARB hearing.
What Happens at the SARB?
During a SARB meeting, a panel of volunteers examines the situation after listening to the student and parent explain why they are not attending school. In Trinity County, this often includes school staff, the school nurse, a school prevention officer, a community representative, as well as homeless and foster youth liaisons. The panel will listen to current attendance levels, hear what is happening both in the home and school settings, and then develop a plan to assist. The conditions/supports that are developed will be added to a legally-binding contract which the student and parent will be required to follow; this contract is typically set in place for one calendar year. The SARB case manager has the authority to refer the case to the District Attorney if truancies and unexcused absences continue to be a problem following the SARB hearing.
It is important to remember that, as a parent, you are responsible for your child’s school attendance. You must let the school know if your child is out of school and give a legitimate reason for the absence. You must also be sure your child attends school regularly and on time every day.
It is also important to remember that, as a student, If you miss school, you miss out on opportunities to learn how to become a good citizen, build lasting friendships and develop the skills and attitudes needed to become a valued employee.
How does SARB Help?
SARB provides a wide variety of services that are designed to meet the needs of students and their families. The ultimate goal is to help students stay in school, attend regularly, and graduate. To that end, SARB:
- Collaborates with schools and counselors
- Recommends placements
- Connects families with agencies for counseling, tutoring and other services
- Works with probation and law enforcement
- Reinforces parental legal responsibility for student attendance, as required by the California Education Code