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School Attendance Review Board (SARB)

The State of California has a law which states that all students ages 6 through 18 must attend school on a regular basis (EC 48200). This is referred to as the compulsory education law. There are a few exceptions, but those are rare cases. In general, if you are between the ages of 6 and 18, you need to be in school.

Any student who is absent or tardy 30 minutes or more for three or more days without a valid excuse is considered truant and in violation of the law (EC 48260). Valid excuses include illness, court appearance, or death in the family. Once a student triggers the truancy alarm, the school springs into action. Individual school districts have developed prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies that will help students and their families improve school attendance or behavior ultimately diverting cases away from the juvenile justice system. The school makes a conscientious effort to meet with the families and discuss the attendance situation with the goal of finding a resolution that will bring the student back to school regularly. Often the absences are due to transportation issues or health-related problems that can be solved quite easily. If the absences continue, however, the school will refer the student to SARB.

SARB is the acronym for the School Attendance Review Board, housed in and facilitated by the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office. Representatives from several community service agencies collaborate to help students and parents meet the requirements of the law. The SARB board strives to provide a complete and effective system to determine individual family needs and how they can be met. Although the SARB process can seem intimidating, it is a genuinely compassionate process designed to offer assistance to students with irregular attendance.

The process is quite simple: Once a student is referred to SARB, the coordinator of the program sets up a hearing which includes a representative from the school, the SARB board members, and the parent(s) and student. Attendance by the parent(s) and student is mandatory. At the hearing, the SARB board hears the case as presented by the school representative. They then ask questions of the parent(s) and student to determine how they can help the student return to regular attendance. In most cases, the student’s attendance improves. Occasionally, however, when the student continues to be truant, the case is sent to the District Attorney’s office where fines and sanctions can be imposed, including possible jail time.

Several studies point to the direct correlation between criminal behavior and poor school attendance. Conversely, students who attend regularly and are actively involved in their school community excel scholastically and are more likely to enjoy financial success in the future. Regular attendance at school is the law…and the rewards are evident.