Benita Washington, Attendance Officer
1350 M Street, Building B
Fresno, CA 93721
Attendance is extremely important to a child's academic success. The Education Code requires that children between the ages of 6-18 attend school full-time. (E.C. 48200) The Attendance and SARB office hold parents and students accountable by:
- Enforcing the Compulsory Attendance Laws
- Conducting Student Attendance Review Board Meetings
- Recommending Sanctions
- Referring non compliant parents to court
Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) is committed to:
- Working with students and their families to ensure that all students attend school regularly
- Understanding there are a variety of factors that may influence school attendance
- Providing strength-based and culturally appropriate interventions and services including
- case management,
- individual and group counseling,
- home visits,
- parent education, and
- referrals to school/ community based resources.
What is SARB (STUDENT ATTENDANCE REVIEW BOARD)
- The purpose of SARB is to enforce the compulsory laws and to divert students with school attendance or behavior problems FROM the juvenile justice system.
- In 1974, the Legislature enacted Education Code Section 48320 to enhance the enforcement of compulsory attendance laws. This legislation made way for the establishment of the School Attendance Review Board (SARB) that became operative in 1975.
- FUSD utilizes SARB to provide coordinated services between the school, community agencies and the home, in an effort to resolve attendance problems.
When does the Court get involved?
- If a parent, guardian or caregiver fails to respond to the directives of the SARB Board or refuses the services provided, the district is left with no alternative but to file a criminal complaint against a parent.
How can the District's Social Workers help?
- School Social Workers promote and support students' academic and social success by providing strength based services that may include:
- Advocacy for Students, Parents and the School System
- Individual and Group Counseling
- Parent Education
- Staff Development
What is the legal definition of a truant student?
- A student who has been reported as truant and who is again absent from school without a valid excuse one or more days or tardy on one or more days. (Amend. Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010)
What is an habitual truant?
- A student is deemed a habitual truant when he or she has been reported as a truant three or more times per school year. The school district must make a conscientious effort to hold at least one conference with a parent or guardian of the student and the student himself, after the filing of reports (Section 48260 or Section 48261. (Amend. Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010) E.C. 48262)
When are truancy letters sent?
Truancy letters are sent to parents informing them that their child has reached three (3) or six (6) unexcused absences. This is a district-wide procedure that takes place at the end of an attendance period. The truancy notification letters are based on the attendance information that is entered in the district computer system. This information is based on the explanation provided by the parent for their child's absence. (E.C. 48260.5)
(Example: Parent calls and states that she is planning to take Jennifer on a family vacation for three days. The parent requests Jennifer's homework and Jennifer returns the homework when she returns from vacation. Will this parent receive a truancy letter? Yes!)
Although the district encourages parents to spend quality time with their children, the Education Code does not recognize a family vacation as an excused absence. The district recommends planning family trips when school is not in session. If that is not possible, we strongly suggest utilizing Short-Term Independent Study.
What reasons are considered appropriate for excused absence from school?
- Personal illness
- Head Lice (a student will be excused a maximum of three (3) consecutive days for head lice.)
- Quarantine under the direction of a county or city health officer
- Medical, dental, optometrical, or chiropractic appointments
- Attendance at funeral services for a member of the immediate family.
i.e. mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, spouse, son/son-in-law, daughter/daughter-in-law, brother, sister or any relative living in the student's immediate household. (Excused absence in this instance shall be limited to one (1) day if the service is conducted in California or three (3) days if the service is conducted out of state.)
- Jury duty
- The illness or medical appointment during school hours of a child to whom the student is the custodial parent.
Upon advance written request by the parent/guardian and the approval of the Principal or designee, justifiable personal reasons including but not limited to:
- Appearance in court
- Observance of a holiday or ceremony of his/her religion
- Attendance at religious retreats for no more than four (4) hours per semester.
- Employment conference or interview.
- Attendance at a funeral service for a person other than a member of the student's immediate family.
- Service as a member of a precinct board for an election pursuant to Elections Code 12302.
- Participation in religious instruction or exercises in accordance with District policy.
In these circumstances:
- The student shall attend at least the minimum school day. (E.C. 46014) and/ or
- The student shall be excused for this purpose on no more than four (4) school days per month. (E.C. 46014)
- When a parent/guardian has signed a School Attendance Review Board (SARB) or School Attendance Review Team (SART) contract that states a doctor's note must accompany a request for an absence to be excused, only for those days with proper documentation will be designated as excused.
What is the criteria for qualifying for a short-term independent study program?
- Out-of-state/country travel
- Religious purposes
- Child care issues
- Family emergencies
- Extended illness
- Custody situations; and/or
- Student safety issues
Additional Considerations for Independent Study
- Advance notice must be given to the school site
- Minimum of five (5) days and a maximum of fifteen (15) days
- Signed Independent Study Contract
- Complete and return all assignments
10 Things A School Can Do To Improve AttendanceA
- Make students and parents/guardians feel welcome. Make a point to say “hello” to every
parent/guardian or student you see in the halls and outside--make it your business to know his or
- Create an environment that enables students to feel successful in something—no
small it may seem. Award academic and attendance “letters,” as you do for
- When a student is absent, immediately talk to the parent/guardian — not their
Make a personal phone call in the evening, or call parents/guardians at
work during the day.
- When a student is absent, immediately talk with them about why they were gone—let
them know you are aware…and that you care that they are at school.
- Forge a relationship with local businesses where youth may congregate when
them to keep students in school during school hours. Create a poster
that states “We support youth
in school and will not serve anyone under 16 during school hours.”
- Forge a relationship with local law enforcement—make them your allies in showing
the community, families, and students that school is the place to be. Empower
community police officers to return
youth to school.
- Don’t provide the temptation for youth to be truant. Close your campuses during breaks
- Empower and expect classroom teachers to take action when they think a student
may be truant.
Ask teachers to make calls to absent youth or families in the afternoon or
- Reward and recognize good attendance—not just perfect attendance. Post large signs
daily attendance for the day. Reward individuals, classes, and the school for increased
- Make your school a place where students feel safe and respected. Adopt a character
program that is planned and implemented by students.