School Attendance Review Board (SARB)
What is SARB?
In 1974, the Legislature enacted California Education Code (EC) Section 48320 to enhance the enforcement of compulsory education laws and to divert students with school attendance or behavior problems from the juvenile justice system until all available resources have been exhausted. The goal of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District SARB team is to keep students in school, help them to improve their attendance, and provide them with a meaningful educational experience.
To achieve these goals, the legislation provides for a multi-agency SARB that may include the following agencies:
- MDUSD Administrators
- MDUSD Children Welfare and Attendance personnel
- MDUSD Special Education Administrators
- MDUSD school nurses, Social Work Specialists, or counselors
- Community-based organizations
- District Attorney’s Office
- Juvenile Probation Department
- Juvenile or municipal courts
- Law enforcement
- Parents/guardians and/or other community representatives
- Children and Family Social Services
The SARB process starts after schools have referred to students who have missed 9 or more days of school due to unexcused absences and/or have been late to class (more than 30 minutes). SARB seeks to understand why students are experiencing attendance and behavior problems and serves as a vehicle to correct those problems. SARB brings together students, families and schools to provide resources to improve student attendance and academic achievement.
Who is referred to SARB?
- Habitually truant students (age 6-18) may be referred to SARB. Education code 48262 states, “Any pupil is deemed an habitual truant who has been reported as a truant three or more times per school year, provided that no pupil shall be deemed an habitual truant unless an appropriate district officer or employee has made a conscientious effort to hold at least one conference with a parent or guardian of the pupil and the pupil himself, after the filing of either of the reports required by Section 48260 or Section 48261.”
- Students with chronic attendance problems may be referred to SARB. The California Department of Education defines “chronic absentee” as a student who is absent on 10% or more of the school days in a school year when the total number of days the student is enrolled is divided by the total number of days the student is enrolled for any reason. It is a broader measure than truancy, which only tracks unexcused absences. Chronic absenteeism tracks all absences, excused and unexcused.
How does SARB support students and families?
SARB helps students/families understand the importance of school, why students must attend school, and that there are consequences for failure to comply with the law.
SARB may do the following:
- recommend resources to support students at school
- recommend student/ family to seek counseling
- recommend parenting classes
- schedule changes in the student’s program that might be unusual but necessary
- facilitate a student’s transfer to an alternative school or other program when appropriate
- request /coordinate assistance from other volunteers to help students get to school
- refer students/families to the District Attorney, Probation, or Juvenile Court for further assistance
Laws related to attendance
- Education Code, Section 48260.5. Habitually truant students may be subject to prosecution, fines, community service and loss of driver’s license. Parents of truant students are obliged to compel the attendance of the student at school. Parents are advised to meet with school officials, investigate alternative education programs in the District, and attend classes with the student for one day.
- Education Code, Section 48293. In the event that any parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of such minor continually and willfully fails to respond to the directives of the School Attendance Review Board (SARB), the District may file in the proper court a criminal complaint against parent/guardian, which may result in fines of up to $500.
- Education Code, Section 48292, and Penal Code, Section 272. Failure to attend school as required may result in the filing of a complaint against the parents with the District Attorney’s Office.
Why do students need to attend school every day?
- Education Code, Section 48200 requires that all students between ages 6-18 attend school daily, unless otherwise exempt.
- Absenteeism and its ill effects start early. One in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students are chronically absent.
- Poor attendance can influence whether children read proficiently by the end of third grade or be held back.
- By 6th grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.
- Research shows that missing 10% of school, or about 18 days in most school districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s just two days a month, and that’s known as chronic absence.
- Students who are excessively absent are at greater risk of dropping out and becoming involved in delinquent behavior, early pregnancy, or substance abuse.
- When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for graduating.
- Focusing on good attendance from the time a student enters kindergarten will help them be more successful in their adult life.