Benicia Unified School District

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. The California Education Code (EC) Section that defines a truant reads as follows:

EC Section 48260 (a): Any pupil subject to compulsory full-time education or compulsory continuing education who is absent from school without a valid excuse three full days 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 the superintendent of the school district.

The Importance of Regular School Attendance

It’s a fact that students who attend school regularly learn more and are more successful in school than students who do not. Parents who make regular school attendance a priority also are helping their children learn to accept responsibility, and that’s an important lesson for a successful life. Attendance patterns are formed early in life. Children who develop good attendance habits in the early grades will be more likely to continue them throughout their school career, as well as into their chosen career.

Regular attendance is critically important, because students who miss school miss out on carefully planned sequences of instruction. They miss out on active learning experiences and class participation. They miss out on the opportunity to ask questions. As a result, they are more likely to fall behind, and they are more likely to drop out.

Absenteeism Affects Everyone

  • Absenteeism affects the student. Students who are frequently absent fall behind in academics and miss important socialization concepts that enhance their ability to understand and follow directions or, ultimately, plan for the future.
  • Absenteeism affects other students. Students who are frequently absent require more individual attention from the teacher.
  • Absenteeism affects the school and district. State financial support for schools is directly linked to student attendance.

Things parents can do to help…

  • Schedule doctor and dental appointments so that your child can attend at least part of each school day. This will allow your student to check in with the teacher(s) to turn in assignments as well as pick up new assignments for that day.
  • Communicate the importance of regular school attendance to your child so they are hearing the same thing we are saying at school.
  • Provide a quiet place for your student to do homework and check in on him/her. Many students that do not get homework completed may say they are ill so they do not have to attend school.
  • Make sure students are regularly eating nutritious meals and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • If your student does miss school, please contact the office alerting them to the reason for the absence. A written note works best for this process.
  • Remind students of proper hand washing/sanitizing techniques.
  • If your student is running a fever of 100 degrees or more, vomiting, having diarrhea they need to be kept home.

Let’s work together to make regular attendance at school a priority!

School Attendance Review Board (SARB)

In 1974, the Legislature enacted California Education Code (EC) Section 48320 to enhance the enforcement of compulsory education laws and to divert students with school attendance or behavior problems from the juvenile justice system until all available resources have been exhausted. EC Section 48321 provides several organizational structures for School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) at the local and county level to create a safety net for students with persistent attendance or behavior problems. Although the goal of SARBs is to keep students in school and provide them with a meaningful educational experience, SARBs do have the power, when necessary, to refer students and their parents or guardians to court.

SARBs, composed of representatives from various youth-serving agencies, help truant or recalcitrant students and their parents or guardians solve school attendance and behavior problems through the use of available school and community resources.