Students between the ages of 6 and 18 years of age are required to be enrolled in school. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is committed to helping all students succeed in school. One of the factors in school success is regular attendance. Absent students miss critical learning experiences that could help them master academic materials. Consistent attendance also allows students to develop strong relationships with their peers and school staff. Students simply cannot benefit from their education if they are not in school.
Attendance is Important and Truancy Letters Explained
If you have received an attendance letter, here is some information:
I just received a letter from the school about absences. Why did I get this letter?
- Three (3) UNEXCUSED absences are considered excessive and trigger a letter to be sent out from our automated system.
- EIGHT (8) excused (illness etc.) absences are considered excessive.
- SIX (6) unexcused absences warrant a 2nd letter
- NINE (9) unexcused absences warrant a 3rd letter.
- Three (3) long tardies are considered an absence (arriving at school 30 minutes late or more). In addition, three (3) occurrences of students leaving early (students leaving school 30 minutes early or more) are also considered an absence.
What is an excused absence?
Illness, bereavement of a family member, court hearings are considered excused absences (please be specific about the type of illness your child has when writing a note or sending an email, cold, flu, fever, dental appointment, etc.) Being out of town, visiting grandparents, going to Disneyland on a school day are considered unexcused. These are state guidelines.
I went on vacation and sent a letter. Why am I being told my child has unexcused absences?
Regardless of whether or not you send a note, vacation time is not considered excused. This is true of personal days as well.
Then why should I send a note?
Even if it is not considered excused in the state's system, we do need to know the reason for your child's absences to keep a personal record within the District's database. This is information needed for when we are audited.
What do I need to put in my child’s absence letter if he or she misses school?
Please send email to an email address and include the following information:
• Student name
• Teacher name
• Date of absence
• Reason for the absence (i.e., cold, flu, vacation, personal, bereavement, etc. and please be specific about the type of illness if your child is ill)
How many days do I have to clear an absence? Can I send a letter now that I have received a letter from the school?
Absences must be cleared within 72 hours from the date of absence in order to have your child’s attendance record up to date.
What if my child is tardy?
Tardies due to a doctor's visit will require a note from the doctor's office upon arrival at school. Remember, three (3) lengthy tardies (arriving after 9 am) are considered truant.
What is independent study?
You may request independent study if your child will be out for 5 or more consecutive school days. You must arrange with your child's teacher 2 weeks prior to the absence. You must also go to the front office - 2 weeks prior to the absence - to get the contract that must be completed so that your child and the school receive credit for the missed days.
**Of course, if your child is truly ill or there is a loss in your family, we realize that you may miss a few days; however, vacations, visiting with friends or relatives, or a trip to Disneyland, or “Take your child to work" day are not legitimate excuses in the eyes of the State.
Once again, we plead with all of our families to consider the impact not only on our budget, but on your child’s education prior to having your child stay home from school. We do NOT advocate sending students to school sick. We ARE advocating scheduling appointments and vacations during times school isn’t in session. If there is an emergency, and you must be gone for five days or more, please arrange for independent study through the front office. Upon verification of completion of the independent study, the school district will be able to recoup the lost funding for those days.
I just received a letter from the school regarding my child’s tardiness. What is the number of tardies that will cause this letter to be generated?
Here are the current letter triggers for the Tardy Letters:
Elementary: Tardy Letter #1 is mailed @ 5 Tardies (late less than 30 minutes)
Tardy Letter #2 is mailed @ 10 Tardies (late less than 30 minutes)
Thank you for helping us improve our attendance and provide as much instructional time for your children as possible!