California parents now face harsh penalties if their student is truant. Students between the ages of 6 and 18 are considered truant if they have:
- three unexcused absences and/or
- three tardies and/or
- three absences of more than 30 minutes
Big issues arise when a student is considered habitually truant, in which the student has missed school 6 or more times that year. Habitually truant students can lead to the school complaining to a district attorney for legal action. If the parent fails to compel their student to attend class, the parent may be responsible for up to a $500 fine. If deemed a contributor to their student’s delinquency, the fine can be hiked up to $2,500. One of the newest charges added to California’s Truancy Law is “chronic truancy”. In cases of chronic truancy, parents can be charged a fee of up to $2,000 and even face a year of jail time.
For older students, penalties can be higher fines, suspension of driving privileges, or even juvenile detention. Suspension of a license could raise insurance rates for parents and a juvenile record could be detrimental for a high school student’s chances of entering a reputable college or university. If you are a parent of a child charged with truancy, we encourage you to contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney to find alternative solutions. In some cases, truancy can be solved by reaching an agreement between the school and the student, rather than having to go to court. Don’t hesitate and make an appointment if you receive a truancy letter from your student’s school for a second opinion.