Compulsory Attendance

Compulsory Attendance

At a Glance

State law in California requires each person between 6 and 18 years of age to attend compulsory, full-time education, unless exempted by provisions of the law. This page also explains eligibility for kindergarten and TK.

Eligibility for Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten

In order to be eligible to attend kindergarten in the public schools, students must have their fifth birthday by September 1.

Children who turn 5 between September 2 and December 2 have an option of attending Transitional Kindergarten (TK) programs offered in each district in the County.  Districts have flexibility in the way they implement the TK program.  They can run individual TK classes in schools, have split kindergarten/TK classes with age-appropriate instruction for the younger students, or they can offer TK at just a few schools (as long as the programs are open to all students in the district whose parents want to enroll them).

Attendance in these programs is not compulsory.

Sixteen – Eighteen Year Olds

Students between the ages of 16 and 18 may attend a continuation school on a part-time basis.  Other students under the age of 18 who are exempt from full-time attendance include high school graduates, students who have met proficiency standards or the high school equivalency criteria, participants in Regional Occupational Programs, and others exempted because of certain circumstances.


Students who have more than three unexcused absences or who are late by more than 30 minutes on each of more than three days are considered truant.  School districts are required to notify the parents of these students that they must compel their children to attend school, and to inform parents about available assistance and alternative programs.

Students who are truant three or more times can be declared “habitual truants”.  Habitual truants may be referred to School Attendance Review Boards or to the District Attorney or Probation Department.  Parents of truants may also be subject to prosecution and fines, if found guilty.

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