California compulsory education law requires everyone between the ages of six and eighteen years of age to attend school, except sixteen and seventeen year-olds who have graduated from high school or passed the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) and obtained parental permission to leave. Some students, however, violate compulsory education laws and have a pattern of unexcused absences. Although truancy and excessive absenteeism are not new problems, they cause costly, long-term problems for the students, school, and the community.
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. EC Section 48321 provides several organizational structures for School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) at the local and county level to create a safety net for students with persistent attendance or behavior problems. Although the goal of SARBs is to keep students in school and provide them with a meaningful educational experience, SARBs do have the power, when necessary, to refer students and their parents or guardians to court.
County or Local SARBs
School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs), composed of representatives from various youth-serving agencies, help truant or recalcitrant students and their parents or guardians solve school attendance and behavior problems through the use of available school and community resources. County SARBs are convened by the county superintendent at the beginning of each school year. In any county where no county SARB exists, a school district governing board may elect to establish a local SARB, which shall operate in the same manner and have the same authority as a county SARB. In many counties, the county SARB provides consultant services to the local SARBs.
In addition to county and local SARBs authorized by EC Section 48321, EC Section 48325 established a State SARB for statewide policy coordination and personnel training to divert students with serious attendance and behavior problems from the juvenile justice system and to reduce the number of dropouts in the state public education system. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) extends invitations of participation to representatives of appropriate groups throughout the state. The State SARB makes annual recommendations to the SSPI regarding the needs of high-risk youth.
Model SARB Recognition Program
Model SARB Recognition Program 2013-14
The Model SARB Recognition Program identifies outstanding results-based school attendance improvement programs that provide comprehensive services to high-risk youth with school attendance or school behavior problems.
Reports of SARB Outcomes
Recommended format for school districts to use to gather and transmit outcome data to the county superintendent of schools.
Publication and Resources
The handbook provides information on establishing a SARB; identifies behavioral patterns of problem students; gives helpful hints on how to work with students and their parents or guardians; suggests by-laws and standing rules; identifies effective factors for parent and pupil conferences; lists California compulsory attendance and other related laws; and provides sample letters and forms to petition the Probation Department, Office of the District Attorney, and the courts.
Sample Policy and Administrative Regulations
The State SARB has developed a sample policy on attendance supervision as a resource to help school districts address truancy and dropout concerns.
School Attendance Review Boards - CalEdFacts
This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.