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¡No Se Deje!
California law requires school aged children to be enrolled in and to attend school. Violations of the mandatory school attendance law permit prosecutors to initiate juvenile court actions against the child and to file criminal charges against the parents. While the primary purpose of mandatory school attendance laws is to ensure that the children of California are properly educated, there are other reasons for these laws. Requiring school attendance also reduces crime by minors and allows parents to know where their children are.
The District Attorney of Orange County and The Orange County Sheriff collaborated with local police departments to arrest several parents for violating the mandatory school attendance laws. These parents were arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allowing their children to have too many unexcused school absences. The parents were arrested after their children had arrived in school and were released without bail in time to be available for their children by the end of the school day. If convicted, these parents could be placed on probation, be sentenced to up to one year in jail and required to pay a fine of up to $2,500.
The prosecutors accused these parents of failing to attend meetings with school officials to discuss their children’s attendance problems and of failing to take action to ensure their children attend school regularly. Two of the parents had been personally informed by a police officer that continued unexcused absences by their child could result in their arrest. The children in these cases were in elementary and middle schools in Orange County. The arrests confirm the policies of the District Attorney and the Orange County Sheriff to aggressively enforce the mandatory school attendance laws of California.
The law does provide for certain exceptions to mandatory school attendance. Students under the age of 18 can be lawfully absent from school during school hours if they are with a parent or guardian, if they are on an emergency errand for a parent, if they are in an emergency situation such as an accident or fire, or if they are in a vehicle in interstate travel. Students that have school authorized work permits are allowed to be absent during school hours if they are going to work or on the job.
Minors in California are also subject to nighttime curfew laws. While California does not have a statewide curfew law, many cities and counties do. Nighttime curfew laws require anyone less than 18 years old to be in their homes or other appropriate housing facility before the curfew time established for that city or county. Parents and minors should determine if their city and/or county have a nighttime curfew and the requirements of those laws. Like mandatory school attendance laws, nighttime curfew laws also provide many sensible and legitimate exceptions to the curfew time.
Every parent and guardian of minor children should know the requirements of the mandatory school attendance laws and nighttime curfew laws. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.