San Mateo County Truancy Program Description


Any pupil who is absent from school without valid excuse three full days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than any 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions during 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. (EC § 48260) 

Any pupil is deemed an habitual truant who has been reported as a truant three or more times per school year, provided that no pupil shall be deemed an habitual truant unless an appropriate district officer or employee has made a conscientious effort to hold at least one conference with a parent or guardian of the pupil and the pupil himself/herself after the filing of either of the reports required by Section §48260 or Section § 48261. (EC §48262) 

Extenuating circumstances may dictate that the days of truancy may be consecutive (i.e. student may have not returned to school) if every effort, to conference with the parent/student and provide support and interventions, has been made and documented per EC Section §48260 or EC Section §48261. 

Step 1

First notification of truancy reported to District Superintendent/designee after 3 unexcused absences or 3 tardies in excess of 30 minutes. District/School sends written notice to parents.(EC §48260.5). Pursue interventions, i.e. conference with student/parent, assign appropriate disciplinary consequences, referral to student study team (SST). School personnel ascertains if student is on probation, and if so, probation officer is notified. 

Step 2

Second notification of truancy reported to District Superintendent/Designee after an additional 1 day (minimum) unexcused absence or tardy in excess of 30 minutes. Parents receive a second letter and are provided with interventions and a complete description of possible consequences of continued truancy. A copy is forwarded to the local police department. If the student is on probation, a copy is forwarded to the Probation Officer. School site administrator schedules a conference with parents and child to discuss the situation. School site takes the lead in determining how to address the problem. Options may include: 

  1. detention
  2. after school or weekend study programs [EC §48264.5(b)]
  3. alternative to suspension programs
  4. student and/or family counseling
  5. possible police involvement, juvenile contact report.
  6. home visit
  7. parent may be required to attend school with student.
  8. suspend work permit
  9. CalWorks/AFDC benefits may be affected
  10. other site based interventions

Step 3

If improved attendance, no further action required at this time. If no improvement, after implementation of the interventions listed in Step 2, then a referral is made to the local police department to discuss with student and parents the possible legal consequences of the child's truancy.

Step 4

Third notification of truancy, after an additional one day (minimum) of unexcused absence or tardy in excess of 90 minutes, in a single school year, triggers a designation as “habitual truant” and a referral is made to the District SARB (School Attendance Review Board). SARB shall include district superintendent/designee, law enforcement, and probation. Others may attend such as Child Welfare, school guidance representation, or social services. School district notifies child and parents of referral and the reasons for the referral. The SARB may offer the following options: assistance and support, assessments, referrals, school district based attendance opportunity program, mediation etc. A SARB improvement plan is developed. [EC §48262;48263] 

The plan will include follow-up of the results of the interventions in Step 2 with a timeline appropriate for the plan. 

Step 5

If the student/parents have not responded to or complied with interventions and SARB improvement plan, a referral is made to the County School Attendance Review Board (SMCOE, District Representative, Police officer, probation and HSA representative and others as appropriate). The County SARB is convened and determines how to address the problem. Options may include a probation department program (RPP), further school district assistance and programs, referral to appropriate agencies or community-based organization, etc. The SARB monitors the effectiveness of the interventions. 

Step 6

If student/parents have not responded to or complied with interventions and improvement plan, then if the County SARB, the County Superintendent of Schools/Designee and probation officer agree, probation officer will forward a petition request to the district attorney's office for court action.[EC §48263] 

Sanctions imposed by the court may include: 

  1. Order participation in options listed in Step 2.
  2. Adjudge student a ward of the Court after a fourth report of truancy [EC §48264.5(d)], and
    • Require student to perform community service
    • Impose a fine of up to $100 (for which parent or guardian may be jointly liable)
    • Require student to attend a court-approved truancy prevention program
    • Suspend, revoke, or delay student's driving privileges
  3. Order parent/guardian to deliver student to school each day [EC §48268]
  4. Find the parent/guardian guilty of an infraction with fines up to $100 for the first infraction, $250 for the second infraction, and $500 for any subsequent infractions [EC §48293]
  5. Order parent to be placed in a parent education/counseling program. [§48293.a.3]
  6. A violation of probation may be filed for the parent, if the parent is on probation.