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Attendance Requirements

California's compulsory education laws

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.

Definition of Truancy

The California Legislature defined a truant in very precise language. In summary, it states that a student missing more than 30 minutes of instruction without an excuse three times during the school year must be classified as a truant and reported to the proper school authority. This classification and referral helps emphasize the importance of school attendance and is intended to help minimize interference with instruction.

In addition to the reporting requirement, the law states that the school district must notify the parent or guardian of the truant by the most cost-effective method possible, and that the notification must include specific information related to the student's unexcused absences. The EC Section regarding notification reads as follows:

EC Section 48260.5: Upon a pupil's initial classification as a truant, the school district shall notify the pupil's parent or guardian, by using the most cost-effective method possible, which may include electronic mail or a telephone call:

(a) That the pupil is a truant. 
(b) That the parent or guardian is obligated to compel the attendance of the pupil at school. 
(c) That parents or guardians who fail to meet this obligation may be guilty of an infraction and subject to prosecution pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 48290) of Chapter 2 of Part 27. 
(d) That alternative educational programs are available in the district. 
(e) That the parent or guardian has the right to meet with appropriate school personnel to discuss solutions to the pupil's truancy. 
(f) That the pupil may be subject to prosecution under Section 48264. 
(g) That the pupil may be subject to suspension, restriction, or delay of the pupil's driving privilege pursuant to Section 13202.7 of the Vehicle Code
(h) That it is recommended the parent or guardian accompany the pupil to school and attend classes with the pupil for one day.