NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 24th October 2023, 05:43 pm
Truancy Laws and Consequences in Sacramento
Missing school can have serious consequences for students and parents in Sacramento. Here’s what you need to know about truancy laws and penalties in Sacramento County.
What is Truancy?
Under California law, a student is considered truant if they miss more than 30 minutes of instruction without a valid excuse on 3 occasions in a school year. They can also be deemed truant for being tardy or absent for more than any 30-minute period during the school day on 3 occasions. 
Once a student meets these criteria, the school must report them as a truant to school authorities. A student who is reported as truant 3 or more times in a school year and has unexcused absences after efforts by the school to meet with parents is considered a habitual truant. 
Consequences for Students
Schools have discretion in imposing consequences for truancy as long as they comply with state law. Here are some of the penalties students may face: 
- First truancy report: Student may be assigned to an after-school or weekend study program, required to attend counseling, or given a warning. Parents are notified.
- Second truancy report: Student may be assigned to an after-school or weekend study program, required to attend counseling, given a warning, and/or attend a truancy mediation program. Parents are notified.
- Third truancy report: Student may be assigned to an after-school or weekend study program, required to attend counseling, given a warning, and/or attend a truancy mediation program. A truancy officer may visit the home. Parents are notified.
- Fourth truancy report: Student may be assigned to an after-school or weekend study program, required to attend counseling, and/or attend a truancy mediation program. Parents and student may need to attend a School Attendance Review Board (SARB) meeting.
- Habitual truancy: Student may be referred to the county probation department or district attorney mediation program. They can be assigned probation and required to attend truancy court. Driving privileges may be delayed or suspended.
- Chronic truancy (missing 10% of school days): Student may be referred to SARB or probation. Additional interventions can include required makeup classes, counseling, or community service. They may need to appear in juvenile court.
Consequences for Parents
Parents and guardians also face escalating consequences for failing to ensure their child’s school attendance under California law: 
- First conviction: Up to $100 fine
- Second conviction: Up to $250 fine and/or up to 25 days in county jail
- Third conviction: Up to $500 fine and/or up to 25 days in county jail
Parents may also be required to attend truancy prevention programs or counseling. In serious cases, they can face criminal complaints and be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 
Truancy Defense Strategies
Students and parents do have defenses against truancy charges:
- Prove valid excuses for absences: Illness, doctor appointments, bereavement, and other legal reasons can justify missed school. Keep documentation.
- Show enrollment in alternative education: Homeschooling, private school, or independent study can satisfy compulsory education requirements.
- Dispute improper recordkeeping: If the school’s attendance records are inaccurate, challenge them. Clerical errors happen.
- Get disabilities accommodated: If a disability contributes to absences, fight for accommodations under ADA laws.
- Argue hardships prevented attendance: Family emergencies, lack of transportation, or other hardships may be valid reasons for truancy.
- Comply with court orders: If referred to truancy court, following the judge’s orders can lead to charges being dropped.
An education lawyer can advise on the best defenses and represent students and parents during truancy proceedings.