Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) understands that school attendance is a protective factor for students, promoting student engagement, inclusion, and overall well-being. Additionally, investments in teaching and learning are maximized when students attend school on a regular basis. Therefore, PAUSD is committed to efforts that align and include attendance notifications and communication to parents, use data to identify at risk patterns in absenteeism to develop appropriate intervention strategies, and help students build healthy habits around school attendance early in their time at PAUSD.  Board Policies and Administrative Regulations reflect California law (Ed Code) and are updated periodically to reflect best practices. A collective focus on attendance that includes schools, parents, and the community, contributes to all students being more successful academically, socially, and emotionally.

Compulsory Attendance

School attendance is required by state law. The California Education Code section 48200 requires that every child 6 to 18 years old must attend school every day and on time, unless there is an acceptable reason (defined by Ed Code) for the absence.  Acceptable reasons for excused absences include, but are not limited to, illness, medical appointments, and attendance at family funeral services. Attendance at religious retreats can not exceed four (4) hours per school semester.  Absences due to activities such as babysitting, travel, accompanying parents on errands, and attending sporting events or concerts are unexcused per Ed Code. Parents/guardians are responsible for their child's school attendance and must notify the school when their child is not in school and include a reason.

Attendance Codes – Excused Absences
Administrator DecisionADAR 5113 (7);
EC 48205;
EC 48260 (c)
  • Active military duty spending time with a member of student's immediate family (parents/guardians, grandparents, spouse, son/son-in law, daughter/daughter-in-law, brother/sister, or any relative living in the student's immediate household) who is an active duty member of the uniformed services who has been called for duty, is on leave from, has immediately returned from, deployment to a combat zone or combat support position; maximum 3 days
  • Jury duty
  • Medical appointment for child whom the student is the custodial parent
  • Purpose of serving as a member of a precinct board for an election pursuant
  • Student's naturalization ceremony to become a US citizen
Use of these codes requires approval, by school administrator, of request provided by family and/or student
  • Court appearance
  • Observance of a holiday or ceremony or religious retreat (generally, one time events) of a student's religion; not to exceed 4 hrs per semester
  • Attendance at an employment conference
  • Attendance at an educational conference on the legislative/judicial process offered by a nonprofit organization
  • Off-campus college visit; only seniors, and 2nd semester juniors, are eligible
ReligiousRELEC 46014
AR 5113 (10)
  • To participate in religious exercises or to receive moral and religious instruction away from school (generally ongoing)
  • Not to exceed 4 days per school month
BereavementBVEC 48205 (4);
  • Attendance at funeral service for a member of the immediate family (limited to 1 day in CA or 3 days if out-of-state). Immediate family includes parents/guardians, grandparents, spouse, son/son-in law, daughter/daughter-in-law, brother/sister, or any relative living in the student's immediate household
Entertainment Industry Work PermitEIPEC 48225.5
  • Limited to up to five consecutive days per school year
HealthHEAEC 48205 (1),
AR 5113
  • Due to the student's illness, or for health appointments (medical, dental, optometrical, mental health, chiropractic)
  • Note from medical professional is preferred, but not required for up to 5 consecutive health absences; if note is provided, use HMP
  • Upon 6 or more consecutive days absence, note from medical professional is required and code HMP used
Health Verified by Medical ProfessionalHMPAR 5113.1
  • Use any time a medical note provided by medical professional, regardless of days absent
  • Health absences 6 consecutive days or more require note from a medical professional; if note is not provided, absences days 6 and beyond are marked unexcused (UAB)
  • Absence cleared by a District Nurse
  • Due to quarantine under the direction of a county or city health officer
Attendance Codes – Present
College VisitCV 
  • Only use when participating in a college presentation held in a PAUSD school
eLearning PeriodELP 
  • Blended learning classes
Field TripFTEC 35330(c)(1),(2)
BP 6153
  • When attending a school sponsored field trip
  • Shall not exceed 10 school days except when in connection with courses of instruction/school-related educational activity and are not social, cultural, athletic or school band activities
Mandated TestingMT 
  • District or school testing (AP, EL, other placement tests)
Removal from ClassRFCEC 48910; OCR
  • Student is removed from class at any point
Suspension In-schoolSSCALPADS
  • Suspension served in school
Verified PresentVP 
  • Only used to correct an absence incorrectly recorded by the teacher
With AdministratorWA 
  • With administrator
With Health OfficeWHO 
  • Health office excused absence
With Other TeacherWOT 
  • With another credentialed teacher
With Support StaffWSS 
  • With counselor, social worker, wellness staff, psychologist, speech pathologist, coach, instructional aide, etc
Attendance Codes – Tardy
Excused Tardy less than 30 minutesETEC 48200
  • Tardy less than 30 minutes with valid excuse
Excused Tardy greater than/equal to 30 minutesEWTEC 48260 (a)
  • Excused tardy greater than 30 minutes
Attendance Codes – Unexcused Absences
  • Student has missed school without parent permission
ImmunizationIZEC 48216
AR 5141.31
  • Any pupil who is not permitted to attend due to immunization non-compliance
Left EarlyLEEC 48200
EC 48260 (a)
  • Student leaves early for any unexcused reason; provide time and reason 
  • Elementary schools only
  • Vacation, traveling with parents/ guardians, visa delay
Unexcused AbsenceUABEC 48200
EC 48260 (a)
  • Absent without approved excuse
Unexcused Tardy greater than/equal to 30 minutesUWTEC 48200
EC 48260 (a)
  • Unexcused tardy greater than 30 minutes. Elementary only
Attendance Codes – Unexcused Tardy
Unexcused Tardy less than 30 minutesUTEC 48200
EC 48260 (a)
  • Unexcused tardy less than 30 minutes (medical reason does not apply)
Attendance Codes – Suspension
Susp OutSUSEC 48205 (a)(11); (b), EC 48900,
  • Suspension served out of school
  • Counts towards Chronic Absenteeism, not truancy

Public schools are required to send parents notifications of truancy in writing; PAUSD send notifications when a student accumulates 3, 6 and 10 unexecused absences, or accumulates 30 minutes or more of missed instruction, or any combination thereof.  This notification is meant to promote communication between the home and the school.  Parents are always encouraged to contact the school site when questions of school attendance arise.

Ed Code states that a student is truant if that student:

  • Is absent from school without an Ed Code-valid excuse three full days in one school year; or
  • Is tardy or absent for more than a 30-minute period during the schoolday without an Ed Code-valid excuse on three occasions in one school year;

or any combination thereof. (Ed Code, 48260(a))

Chronic Absenteeism

A "chronic absentee" is defined in Ed Code section 60901(c)(1) as "a pupil who is absent on 10 percent or more of the school days in the school year when the total number of days a pupil is absent is divided by the total number of days the pupil is enrolled and school was actually taught in the regular day schools of the district, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays."

Student Attendance Review Board (SARB)

If an attendance problem arises and cannot be resolved by school staff, the school may refer the student and family to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB). The purpose of the SARB is to provide “intensive guidance and coordinated community services” to “meet the special needs of pupils with school attendance problems.” (Ed. Code, 48320, subd. (a)). While the intent of the SARB is to provide families with intentional support services, a SARB also has the power to refer recalcitrant students and their parents to court.  Referrals to the court (District Attorney) are meant to help families understand and meet the requirements of compulsory education through.  

SARB flyers available English, Spanish and Chinese.


Parents who have questions about school attendance or need support in this area are encouraged to contact their school site for assistance. Additionally, below are tips and strategies for parents to promote strong school attendance.