Attendance Policy

Every minute counts – it’s not okay to be away!

If your child is absent from school, please call the Attendance Line: (310) 457-0360 and follow the prompts for reporting an absence.

Click here to read a letter from Dr. Herkner about attendance.

SMMUSD has developed attendance policies and procedures in order to comply with California state law. Our goal is to make sure you are aware of any absence and its impact on learning.

Because attendance is fundamental to your student’s success and because our district is committed to student learning, it is imperative that we notify you when your child has missed school.

Our school cares about your child’s educational success and expects all children to arrive to school on time, every school day.

Our teachers begin instruction daily at 8:15 a.m. thereby requiring all children to be in class ready to learn.

Student’s entering after 8:15 a.m. must enter through the office and sign the Tardy log whether or not the front gate is open. They need to obtain a green Tardy Pass to present to their teacher. Student’s not entering late through the office may be marked Unexcused Absence for the day.

Unexcused (Parent Received L1, L2, L3 Letter)
In accordance with the State of California’s Education Code [EC § 48260-48273], when any pupil is absent from school for 3 days or more without a valid excuse, or tardy 3 or more times  in excess of 30 minutes we must notify the parent/guardian.  Late arriving students disrupt and miss out on the valuable instructional process. Whenever possible we encourage all appointments including medical, therapy, dental and orthodontia to be scheduled after school hours or on non-school days.

Excused (Parent Received EEA1, EEA2 Letter) (Use following paragraph as appropriate)
In order to be consistent in our communications, our computers are pre-programmed to notify parents of student illnesses or excused absences at different intervals. You will receive an attendance letter from the school upon your child’s 8th and then subsequently on the 14th excused absence.   This is because excused or unexcused, your child is missing valuable learning time, and excused absences should be very limited.

We hope this information will help you to better understand SMMUSD’s Attendance Policies and Procedures. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your student’s attendance, please contact Abbey Seiden, Senior Office Specialist, 310-457-0360 ext. 60131 or email


Frequently Asked Questions

To assist you in better understanding our District’s policies, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding attendance:

  1. What do I have to do if my child is going to be absent from school?
    Please phone Juan Cabrillo’s Attendance Hotline by 9 am each day to “verify” your child’s absence from school. Phone 310.457.0360 and WAIT for the menu to announce “for Absences & Attendance Press 1”.

    You must leave your child’s name & teacher, specific reason for the absence, the date of the absence and your name to verify that it was a parent/guardian that is verifying the absence.

  2. What does it mean to “verify” my child’s absence?
    When a student is absent, parents are required to call/submit a note to the school office in order to validate the reason for your child’s absence.  We call this process: Absence Verification.

  3. What happens after I have called in my child’s absence?
    The attendance office will then proceed to mark your child’s attendance record with an “Excused” or “Unexcused” absence according to Ed. Code and District policies.

  4. What happens if I forget to call my child’s absence on the day of his/her absence?
    You may call to verify your child’s absence up to 72 hours after your child has been absent. Absences that are not verified within the time allowed will be considered unexcused absences. After our attendance month accounting cycle closes unexcused absences due to non-verification cannot be overwritten or changed.

  5. What is considered an Excused Absence?
    By law [EC § 48205], excused absences are: illness (fever 100° or more, your child must be fever free for twenty four hours before returning to school], persistent runny nose with yellow-green mucous discharge, rashes [unless there is a note from your physician stating that your child is not contagious], vomiting [If your child is sent home vomiting he/she needs to be vomit free for twenty four hours before returning to school], diarrhea [If your child is sent home from school with diarrhea he/she needs to be diarrhea free for twenty four hours before returning to school], medical/dental appointments (doctor’s note required for verification), death in the family, specific religious reasons, required appearance in court, and exclusion from school for contagious disease.

  6. How many Excused Absences can my child have in one school year?
    While we know students do become ill and are unable to attend school, the average number of days missed due to illness is 3 (three) per school year.

  7. What happens if my child is absent more than 8 days during a school year?
    In order to be consistent in our communications, our computers are pre-programmed to notify parents of student illnesses at different intervals. You will receive an attendance letter from the school upon your child’s 8th and then subsequently on the 14th excused absence.

  8. What happens if my child continues to be absent beyond 14 excused absences?
    After reaching 14 absences for “illness” parents will be required to provide a doctor’s note for each subsequent absence.

  9. What can I do if my child has a chronic illness that prevents him/her from being at school regularly?
    SMMUSD offers alternative educational options for students with special circumstances that have been verified by a physician.

  10. What if my child’s absences do not fall under any of the Excused Absences categories?
    State law [EC § 48260-48273] is very specific about these types of absences. A student who is absent from school without a valid excuse will be marked “unexcused” for the day. These types of absences are also called “Truancies”

  11. I thought “truancy” indicated that a child skipped/ditched school. Why would my child be considered “Truant” if I have called to verify the absence?
    In accordance with Education Code of the State of California [EC § 48260-48273], any pupil who is absent from school for 3 days or more without a valid excuse, or tardy in excess of 30 minutes or more (Tardies are only excused with a parent note for illness, doctor/dental note for appointments),is “truant”.

  12. What about coming in late (tardy) or leaving early for an appointment?
    According to State Law [EC § 48260-48273] a student that is absent from school in excess of 30 minutes during a school day is also considered “truant.” Compulsory Education Law therefore, requires a student to attend a full day every day!

  13. What is the process for a child with more than 3 unexcused absences/Tardies?
    You will receive a letter from the school upon the 3rd (third) and the consequently upon the sixth absence/truancy. On the second letter (6th absence/truancy) you will be asked to attend a SART meeting which is a meeting with the Assistant Principal. Additional unexcused absences will result in a referral to the School Attendance Review Board and possible referral to the District Attorney for prosecution.  Additional unexcused attendance may result in being referred to the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB).

  14. What can I do if my child needs to be out of school for a length of time?
    If your child must go out of town for five or more days, you may request that your child is signed up for an Independent Study Agreement. Please ask the school office for holiday deadlines for completing the form.  Please note that teachers need at least a one to two week notice in order to prepare materials without interrupting their instructional time.

  15. Why is attendance such a big issue?
    Regular attendance is vital to student’s success in school. The student who is frequently absent misses social interaction and direct instruction from his/her teachers even though written work can be made up. Any day or hour absent is a missed learning opportunity. Attendance is a key predictor of dropouts. Dropouts create economic loss and jeopardize future work force since only 31% of dropouts keep a job more than a year. Also school loses funding for each absence, regardless of the reason; including illness or excused absences.

  16. I thought schools got “paid” when kids are out ill/”excused”?
    Schools do NOT receive funding even if the absence is excused. This law went into effect in 1998. Any absence is a loss of revenue as well as instructional opportunities.

  17. How much revenue is really lost due to attendance?
    The State of California funds attendance not absences. That is why schools in California are funded on Average Daily Attendance (ADA). ADA is the primary funding source for all schools/school districts in California.

  18. What about homework, if my child is absent can I request homework to be sent home?
    Students are given the opportunity to makeup schoolwork missed due to illness or a valid excused absence upon their return. As a general policy, a student is allowed 1 (one) day to complete make-up work for each day of excused absence from school.

Hand-In-Hand, Together We Can


Dr. Pam Herkner

Santa Monic Malibu Unified School District