When you are 12 years old or older, you are responsible for your own school attendance. You are considered truant if you miss 3 or more class periods on three different days in one year without a valid excuse.

Why do I have to go to school?
The law says that children and youth ages 7 to 17 must receive an education. Education can happen in a public school, private school, or home school.

Can I ever miss school?
Yes. If you have a valid reason, your absence can be excused.

What is a valid excuse?
Schools have their own attendance policies, but generally absences may be excused for:

  • Sickness
  • Doctor appointment
  • Family emergency
  • Death or serious illness of a family member
  • Religious reasons

Absences won’t be excused for:

  • Babysitting
  • Work
  • Long vacations
  • Language barriers
  • Missing the bus
  • Cold weather

What if I have a good reason to miss school?
Be sure to tell the school why you are absent. School officials are required to help, but they need to know what the problem is first.

What happens if I miss too many days of school without a valid excuse?
First, the school will notify your parent/guardian that you missed school.
If you continue to miss school, the school will report your absences to the county. The first report usually results in an information meeting about the importance of attendance.

The county attorney will review the information and decide next steps, which may include:

  • Getting a community agency to work with the family.
  • A child protection investigation for students under age 12.
  • A truancy hearing in juvenile court for students 12 and older.

Click below to find out more about your county’s truancy program:

What is a truancy hearing?
At a truancy proceeding, the school district must prove by clear and convincing evidence that you are a habitual truant and that it has tried to address the reasons why you have missed school.

If I go to court for missing school, can I have a lawyer?
No. There is no right to a lawyer for truancy hearings.

What can the court do if they find me truant?
If the court decides you are truant, they can order:

  • Counseling
  • Supervision by a probation officer
  • Transfer of legal custody
  • Community service
  • No driving until the age of 18
  • Pay fines


Disclaimer: This document is intended to be informational. It is not legal advice concerning your specific situation. Please see a lawyer if you need advice about a specific situation.