FAQ's For Families
It’s no secret that students have a better chance at success when they show up to school - on time, every day. But when students frequently miss class, it not only hurts them, but it impacts all students.
Here are some common questions and answers about absenteeism, what you can do about it and links to more resources:
Why does it matter if my child misses school or comes in late?
Absences impact everyone. Students who miss class often can quickly fall behind and struggle to catch up.
But students who have good attendance can be affected as well. When a frequently absent student returns to class, for example, the teacher often must stop to give special attention to that child.
There’s a financial impact, too. Because school funding is largely tied to daily attendance, San Juan Unified on average loses about $78,000 each day in funding due to student absences. In these times of budget cuts, that can make a difference when it comes to paying for classroom materials and programs.
Additionally, students who are chronically absent from school are more likely to misbehave and participate in criminal activity.What is the difference between an excused and an unexcused absence?Under state law, an absence is considered “excused” only for these reasons:
- student illness
- death in the student’s immediate family (one day is excused if funeral is conducted in California, and three days are excused if service is conducted outside California)
- for purpose of having medical, dental, vision or chiropractic services rendered
- observation of a religious holiday or ceremony
- court appearance (documentation must be provided and have the student’s name on it)
All other reasons for absences are considered inexcusable by California state law. If you have a special circumstance and are unsure whether it will be excused, please talk to your school’s principal or vice principal for clarification.
Are there any materials I can post in my home to help improve attendance?
Sometimes we all need help staying organized and getting ahead. Parents can click here for a helpful list of tips about supporting and ensuring their child’s attendance in school.
And there’s a tip sheet for students, too: Click here for a list of healthy habits that will help you establish a successful routine.
My student is sick. Shouldn’t my child stay home?
The health and safety of our students is the highest priority. If your child has a fever, is vomiting or has other severe symptoms, your child is too sick to come to school. Parents are allowed to excuse up to 10 days without verification of illness from a medical professional.
If you bring your child to see a doctor, make sure to obtain a doctor’s note stating the date seen, any additional days they recommend your child stay home and the diagnosis. Upon your child’s return to school, provide the documentation to the front office (not to teachers), and these absences will be recorded as verified and will not take away from the 10 parent-verified days.
That said, if your child is feeling ill in the morning but is doing better as the day progresses, please consider bringing them to school for a partial day. That’s always better than missing a full day.
What about a family emergency? If the car breaks down, or there’s a relative in the hospital, is that an excused absence?
According to state law, family emergencies are not considered excusable absences.
Transportation is an issue for my family. What can I do?
Parents of students receiving free and reduced meals are eligible to purchase discounted monthly Regional Transit stickers and bus passes at our San Juan Central enrollment facility. Click here for more details.
Some San Juan Unified schools have established safe-walking clubs and similar initiatives to assist children and families who walk to and from school. To find out whether your school has started such an initiative, or to find out how you can start your own, contact our Safe Routes to Schools Coordinator Dan Allison at (916) 979-8421, or talk to your school principal.The school says my child has an unexcused absence when it should have been excused. What can I do?
We prefer that parents call their school as soon as they know their child will be absent. Parents have 5 school days to clear absences before it is recorded as a truancy.There are several reasons why your child’s absence may be recorded as unexcused when you thought it would be excused:
- Did you give a note to your child to hand in? If so, it’s possible your student lost it or forgot about it; this happens all the time. It’s best for you to call the office yourself.
- Did you tell a teacher or staff member? Information can fall through the cracks. To ensure proper documentation of an absence, you must report it to your school’s front office.
- If you reported an absence - but gave a reason that is unexcused by state law - our hands are tied, and we must record the absence as unexcused.
I’d like to keep track of my child’s attendance myself. How do I do that?
Click here to access Parent Portal, an online resource for tracking your student’s attendance and grades. The site contains instructions for how to log in and use the program.
If you don’t have internet access, your school’s office has access to daily attendance information and can provide that information to you.
What is chronic absenteeism?
Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student who misses 10 percent or more of a school year for any reason.
But you don’t have to reach that level to raise red flags. Students absent without a valid excuse for three full or partial days in one school year, or who are tardy more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse on three occasions in a school year, are considered truants under state law.
What is considered "PERFECT" attendance?
A student has "perfect" attendance when their attendance for the year does not include ANY absences or tardies (excused or unexcused). The student's attendance will contain only the following codes: . = present, K = field trip, H = single period positive (verified present)
Where can I find more information on school attendance issues?
San Juan Unified’s Attendance Improvement Program website is full of information and resources. You can also visit www.attendanceworks.org