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Attending school is a daily practice for children and teens. California’s compulsory education law requires children six to eighteen to be enrolled in school. Although, there are exceptions when students legally ‘drop out’ early. When skipping school or maintaining a poor attendance record, parents and underage children may face repercussions and legal penalties in some cases for truancy.
Understanding truancy and education laws about California’s school rules and regulations may help you best understand your case as a parent or legal guardian. Students arrested for truancy and additional charges may also benefit from knowing their rights and how an attorney may help in any case. At Dod Law, our legal team works diligently to defend any individual facing charges related to school truancy, such as domestic violence, drug crimes, underage DUI, contributing to child delinquency, and other unlawful circumstances.
California’s Truancy Laws
School attendance is a requirement for children aged six to eighteen. California Education Code 48260 states a student becomes truant when they do not have a valid excuse and is one or more of the following:
- Absent for three full school days in a single year
- Tardy three times in a school year
- Absent three times for more than 30 minutes
Students can sometimes be marked ‘chronically truant’ when they have missed ten percent of their entire school year. Students and parents who neglect school attendance may face penalties and consequences without excused absences. Parents and guardians failing to supervise their children may be investigated and be obligated to fines and time in county jail if convicted.
When Is Missing School Days Permissible?
Missing school days or time away from classes is understandable in some cases. Parents and students can avoid penalties for truancy with a valid excuse and communication with school officials or administrators.
Under California Education Code 48205, the following may be valid reasons for a student to miss school days:
- The student is sick
- A family member has passed away
- To attend a doctor’s or health-related appointment
- The student is a custodial parent of another student who is sick
- Local health officials have issued a quarantine
- Homeschooling or another permissible alternative
- At the discretion of a school administrator
Depending on the circumstances, missing school days may be justifiable. If you are arrested or facing charges for a truancy case regarding your child, speaking with an attorney may help you take the necessary steps to resolve a matter and ensure the School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) have an accurate record.
Do Parents of Truant Children Have Criminal Liabilities?
On a case-by-case basis, the SARB may suspect a parent is permitting their child to miss school days and refer the case to the district attorney. On that note, law enforcement may arrest a parent.
If prosecutors establish a parent is neglecting or failing to make an effort for their child’s school attendance, they may face penalties based on circumstances such as the following:
Failing to Supervise a Child’s School Attendance
Failing to supervise a child’s school attendance is illegal and may lead to a misdemeanor conviction. This criminal charge is punishable by up to a year of jail time in county jail and up to $2,500 in fines. With a criminal defense attorney on your case, you may be able to recover evidence and refute the prosecution’s claims.
Contributing to Child Delinquency
Contributing to child delinquency is against the law and may lead to a misdemeanor charge. Sometimes, parents may encourage delinquency by failing to help a child abide by court orders or not supervising them properly. Fines and jail time may accompany a conviction for a parent or guardian that is determined guilty.
What if a Minor Is Arrested for Truancy and Other Charges?
In some instances, older children and teens are arrested for truancy and other charges such as possession of marijuana, underage drinking, or drunk driving. The effects of an underage arrest affect both the child and the parent. In the early stages, school officials may schedule meetings, revoke privileges, and require a child to attend counseling.
After subsequent truancy encounters and if other criminal acts are discovered, the student may be referred to penalties such as juvenile court probation and be declared a ward of the court. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding an arrest to a truant’s record, an experienced criminal defense attorney may strategize and defend to navigate a better outcome for your child’s future.
Our Criminal Defense Attorney at Dod Law May Help You Resolve a School Truancy Case
Facing charges for a child’s truancy-related circumstances can bring many challenges and hardships for families. Whether your underage child has been arrested on criminal charges and truancy or you have been arrested for neglecting a student’s school attendance, speaking with an experienced attorney may benefit you.
School attendance in California is taken seriously, and the School Attendance Review Boards are diligent about addressing truant children. Regardless of the criminal circumstances of your arrest, San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Dod Ghassemkhani has eighteen years of experience representing clients in and out of a courtroom. To discover the best options in handling your school truancy case, complete a contact form or call us at (619) 814-5110.