Students skipping school is an unfortunate -- but very old -- problem for families and schools across California. For some kids, skipping class is an act of rebellion; for others it's an indication of boredom; others skip because they are not prepared.
Whatever the reasons may be for skipping school, it can be very upsetting when a child is found to be truant and in danger of certain penalties. If your child's school has notified you that your child is a truant, then you should understand truancy laws in California and understand the options you have to address this difficult situation.
Difference between a truant and a habitual truant
As discussed in this article on truancy from the California Department of Education, a child is a truant if he or she misses 30 minutes of school three or more times without an excuse.
If a child is a truant three times and efforts to meet with parents fail, then he or she is a habitual truant.
Penalties for truancy
Penalties of truancy include suspension of driving privileges for a year, a warning from a peace officer and/or the requirement to attend makeup classes.
Penalties of habitual truancy can include required attendance at a truancy mediation program as well as possible juvenile court penalties, like community service and fines.
As a parent, you can also face penalties if your child is a truant. According to the California Education Code, parents who fail to appropriately compel their children to go to school can be fined and ordered to complete a counseling and parent education program.
Defending your child against truancy claims
Truancy can start off as a small problem, but it can become much worse when a parent and child do not have the proper resources to address it. If you feel the school has improperly classified your child as a truant or habitual truant, or if you feel the State Attendance Review Board is being too harsh with attempts to penalize you or your child, then talking to an attorney can be crucial.