Frequently Asked Questions

  • To assist you in better understanding our District's attendance policies and procedures, here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding attendance:

    1. What do I have to do if my child is absent from school?

    Call the Will Rogers absence line at (310) 452-2364 ext. 67331or send an email to and leave the following information:

    • student's name
    • teacher's name
    • date of the absence
    • specific reason for the absence
    • your name to verify that it was a parent/guardian that is verifying the absence.

    2. What does it mean to “verify” my child's absence?

    When a student is absent, parents are required to call/send a note to the attendance clerk in order to validate the reason for your child's absence. We call this process: Absence Verification.

    3. What happens after I have called in my child's absence?

    The attendance clerk will then proceed to mark your child's attendance record with an “Excused” or “Unexcused” absence according to Ed. Code and District policies.

    4. What happens if I forget to call in my child's absence on the day of their absence?

    You may call or email to verify your child's absence up to 72 hours after your child has been absent. Absences that are not verified within that time will be considered unexcused absences. After our attendance month accounting cycle closes unexcused absences due to non-verification cannot be overwritten or changed.

    5. What is considered an Excused Absence?

    By law [EC § 48205], excused absences are: illness (fever 100° or more, your child must be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school], persistent runny nose with yellow-green mucous discharge, rashes [unless there is a note from your physician stating that your child is not contagious], vomiting [If your child is sent home vomiting they need to be vomit free for 24 hours before returning to school], diarrhea [If your child is sent home from school with diarrhea they need to be diarrhea free for 24 hours before returning to school], medical/dental appointments (doctor's note required for verification), death in the family, specific religious reasons, required appearance in court, and exclusion from school for contagious disease.

    6. How many Excused Absences can my child have in one school year?

    While we know students do become ill and are unable to attend school, the average number of days missed due to illness is 3 (three) per school year.

    7. What happens if my child is absent more than 8 days during a school year?

    In order to be consistent in our communications, our computers are pre-programmed to notify parents of student illnesses at different intervals. You will receive an attendance letter from the school upon your child's 7th and then subsequently, on the 14th excused absence.

    8. What happens if my child continues to be absent beyond 14 excused absences?

    After reaching 14 absences for “illness” parents will be required to provide a doctor's note for each subsequent absence.

    9. What can I do if my child has a chronic illness that prevents them from being at school regularly?

    SMMUSD offers alternative educational options for students with special circumstances that have been verified by a physician. Contact the principal/assistant principal to discuss your child's situation.

    10. What if my child's absences do not fall under any of the Excused Absences categories?

    State law [EC § 48260-48273] is very specific about these types of absences. A student who is absent from school without a valid excuse will be marked “unexcused” for the day. These types of absences are also called “truancies”.

    11. I thought “truancy” indicated that a child skipped/ditched school. Why would my child be considered “Truant” if I called to verify the absence?

    In accordance with the Education Code of the State of California [EC § 48260-48273], any pupil who is absent from school for 3 days or more without a valid excuse, or tardy in excess of 30 minutes or more (tardies are only excused with a parent note for illness, doctor/dental note for appointments) is “truant”.

    12. What about coming in late (tardy) or leaving early for an appointment?

    According to State Law [EC § 48260-48273] a student that is absent from school in excess of 30 minutes during a school day is also considered “truant.” Compulsory Education Law, therefore, requires a student to attend a full day every day!

    13. What is the process for a child with more than 3 unexcused absences/tardies?

    You will receive a letter from the school upon the 3rd (third) and then consequently, upon the sixth absence/truancy. In the second letter (6th absence/truancy) you will be asked to attend a SART meeting, which is a meeting with the Assistant Principal. Additional unexcused absences will result in a referral to the School Attendance Review Board and possible referral to the District Attorney for prosecution. Additional unexcused absences may result in being referred to the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB).

    14. What can I do if my child needs to be out of school for a length of time?

    If your child must go out of town for five or more days, you may request that your child is signed up for Independent Study. Please note that teachers need at least one week's notice in order to prepare materials without interrupting their instructional time.

    15. Why is attendance such a big issue?

    Regular attendance is vital to a student's success in school. The student who is frequently absent misses social interaction, classroom discussions and direct instruction from their teacher.  Any day or hour absent is a missed learning opportunity. Attendance is a key predictor of dropouts. Students who dropout create economic loss and jeopardize the future work force since only 31% of people who dropout keep a job for more than a year.

    16. I thought schools got “paid” when kids are out ill/”excused”?

    Schools do NOT receive funding even if the absence is excused. This law went into effect in 1998.

    17. What about homework? If my child is absent, can I request homework to be sent home?

    Students are given the opportunity to do schoolwork missed due to illness or a valid excused absence upon their return. As a general policy, a student is allowed 1(one) day to complete make-up work for each day of excused absence from school.  Please remember that, although some work can be made up, it does not replace classroom discussion and direct instruction from the teacher.