Community Outreach Academy  -ABSENCES & THE LAW

Community Outreach Academy takes student attendance very seriously. We are very pleased with our student attendance levels and are grateful that our parents take this area of education very responsibly. We are nearing the time of year when some families may consider going on vacations, such as trips to Mexico, Hawaii, cruises, etc., and are forced to miss school. It is the school’s responsibility to inform our parents about the laws of school attendance in California. Below are the laws that relate to school attendance and the consequences students and parents may face in the events of missing too many days or hours of school without a valid reason.


In California, all children are required by law to attend school between the ages of 6 and 18, and must have good attendance records as well. The state defines
legally truant as a student who misses school with a combination of the following types of absences without a valid excuse:
three unexcused absences and/or
three tardies and/or
three absences of more than 30 minutes.

Students who miss school six times or more during the year without a valid excuse are considered "habitually truant", and the school may refer a complaint to the  district attorney's office  for legal action. The consequences for a student who is declared habitually truant are severe for both the  student  AND the parents. Under the law, a parent can be prosecuted for the following:
"“failure to compel" a child to attend school (an infraction with up to a $500 fine for repeat offenders);
violation of Penal Code § 272 “contributing to the delinquency of a minor" (a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines).

Most recently, the California legislature voted into law SB1317, which creates a NEW category, "chronic truancy." The new law penalizes  parents  who allow their children in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade to miss 10% or more of the school year to be prosecuted for a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail AND $2,000 in fines. There is no provision for children who have medical problems, or special education children with emotional or behavior issues.

The consequences for  older children  are also severe. In addition to the legal liability for parents, high school students can be referred to the Juvenile court under Welfare and Institutions Code § 601 and be placed on probationary supervision. This Juvenile record can unfairly harm a student's ability to go to college and adversely affect job prospects. Once a student age 13-17 is labeled a "habitual truant," it may also result in a suspension or delay of driving privileges under Vehicle Code § 13202.7. This can raise insurance rates, further increasing the overall cost to the parents.

We are very grateful for our students and parents. Attendance has never been a big problem at COA and we thank you all for being so proactive in making sure your children come to school on time every day.


Michael Serdi, Vice Principal

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