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Attendance Policies


Public school districts in California receive their funding from the state of California based on the actual number of students who are present for classes, not on the district’s enrollment. Districts are not paid for students who are absent, no matter whether an absence is excused or unexcused. Capistrano Unified urges parents to make sure their children attend school regularly and to schedule medical and other appointments so that a student misses none, or only a small portion, of the school day. The district also asks that travel or other absences be avoided during the time school is in session. The better a student’s attendance rate, the more a student will learn and the greater the amount of funding that the district will receive from the state for classroom instruction and academic programs.

The school calendar is designed to minimize problems for families who plan vacations around traditional holiday periods and thereby minimize student absences.


Following an absence, a student is required to bring a written excuse from home when returning to school, or the school must have received a phone call from a parent/guardian. Illnesses and doctor and dental appointments are considered excused absences. Children should not be sent to school when they are not feeling well. Absences without a written excuse or phone call from home are recorded as unexcused. (Please see section on truancies.)


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Independent Study Agreement:

If it is necessary for parents to keep their children out of school for up to two weeks (minimum of five days) to travel or attend some special event, the District requests that an independent study agreement is set up between the child and the teacher.

The agreement provides children with lessons and activities to complete while away from school and helps to ensure that the students do not fall behind in their studies. The study agreement is given to the child and should be returned to the classroom teacher upon completion.  Parents should notify the office at least ten school days prior to the first day of a child’s unavoidable absence from school for reasons other than illnesses.


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Leaving School During the Day:

No child is permitted to leave school during the school day without permission from the school office. If parents are taking their child out of school early, they must go to the school office to have the child released. The office must be notified in advance if someone other than a parent is to pick up the child.

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Start/Dismissal Times:

In general, students are asked not to arrive more than 15 minutes before the start of the school day unless there are meetings or activities scheduled for them. Students may not wait for any length of time after school to attend meetings that start substantially after dismissal time. Schools do not have the personnel to provide supervision outside of specified arrival and dismissal times.


Please refer to an individual school's website for start and dismissal times for Kindergarten, Preschool or other programs not included in these listings.


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Students are expected to be at school on time. If a child is late, the child should bring an excuse from home to the school office. Frequent tardiness without a valid excuse is considered truancy under state law. (Please see section on Truancies.)


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When a child is moving from a school, parents are asked to notify the school a few days ahead and specify the last day of attendance.


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A student is considered truant if he/she misses a day of school and it is considered an unexcused absence, or if the student is tardy or leaves school early three times for more than 30 minutes each time.  After three unexcused absences, the student may be referred to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB). Review the SARB page on the Safety and Student Services website.

Unexcused absences are all absences that do not meet the following criteria listed in the California Education Code. The criteria which allow for excused absences are:

  • an illness, medical or dental need (a doctor’s note may be required);
  • the funeral of an immediate family member;
  • a justifiable personal reason when the student’s excused absence has been requested in writing in advance and has been approved by the principal or the principal’s designated representative.

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