All children between 6 and 18 years of age are required by California’s Education Code to attend school, and their parents have a legal responsibility to ensure their child’s attendance. The law also states that a student’s refusal to attend school regularly can result in a referral to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB), Juvenile Probation, and the Juvenile Court System. Additionally, parents who fail to compel their child’s attendance may face criminal prosecution and penalties.

What is SARB?

The School Attendance Review Board addresses chronic attendance and truancy problems. SARB offers students a last chance to improve attendance before a referral is made to juvenile court.

When Does SARB Get Involved?

When school sites have exhausted their resources and attendance has not improved, a family can be referred to the SARB department. The SARB office will then schedule a hearing before a panel and the student and parent/guardian are required to attend.

Who is on the SARB Panel?

At a SARB hearing, students and their parents will meet with a panel that may consist of a:

  • SARB Coordinator

  • Probation Officer

  • School Police Officer or SDPD Officer

  • Mental Health staff member

  • Community agency representatives

  • Referring school site representative

How Does SARB Help?

SARB provides a wide variety of services that are designed to meet the needs of students and their families. The ultimate goal is to help students stay in school, attend regularly, and graduate. To that end, SARB:

  • Collaborates with schools and counselors

  • Recommends placements

  • Connects families with agencies for counseling, tutoring, and other services

  • Works with probation and law enforcement

  • Reinforces parental legal responsibility for student attendance, as required by the California Education Code

  • Initiates subpoenas, citations, and petitions to the court

What Happens in a SARB Hearing?

A panel of volunteers examines the situation after listening to the student and parent explain why they are not attending school. The panel will develop a plan and the conditions/support that is developed will be added to a legally-binding contract that the student and parent will be required to follow. The SARB case manager has the authority to refer the case to the District Attorney if truancies and unexcused absences continue to be a problem following the SARB hearing. A judge then orders compliance with the compulsory attendance law and may place a student over 12 years old in Juvenile Hall when all efforts to support the student have failed.

PARENTS: You are responsible for your child"s school attendance. You must let the school know if your child is out of school and give a legitimate reason for the absence. You must be sure your child attends school regularly and on time every day.

STUDENTS: If you miss school, you miss out on opportunities to learn how to become a good citizen, build lasting friendships, and develop the skills and attitudes needed to become a valued employee.