California law requires that all children between the ages of 6 and 18 attend school, as well as maintain good attendance records. An adult’s actions or negligence in allowing truancy can be a violation of various laws. The state has enacted laws that specifically address truancy and, in certain situations, an adult can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in violation of California Penal Code Section 272 PC.

The state defines legally truant as a student who misses school with a combination of the following types of absences without a valid excuse:

– three unexcused absences and/or
– three tardies and/or
– three absences of more than 30 minutes

A child is considered “habitually truant” if they miss school six times or more during the year and they have unexcused absences and/or tardies. The school may refer a complaint to the district attorney’s office for legal action.

In September of 2010, the California legislature voted into law SB1317. This legislation created a new category of juvenile truancy termed “chronic truancy.” This law penalizes parents who allow their children in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade to miss 10% or more of the school year to be prosecuted. Parents of kids who are chronically truant can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face a series of fines and punishments, starting with a $100 fine for the first conviction and ending with a year of incarceration and up to $2000 for parents of chronic truants.

In 2012, a California mother was sentenced to 180 days in jail after she pleaded guilty to allowing her kids to miss more than 10 percent of the school year. The state’s chronic truancy law has no provision for children who have medical problems, or special education children with emotional or behavioral issues.

Daniel R. Perlman, Esq.

Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman