Unofficial attendance policy violates California Education Code

By Kennedy Cook and Lola Leuterio

Tam adopted an unofficial attendance policy at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year to limit adult students to 10 self-excused absences, after which they must be excused by a parent or guardian, making the attendance policy in conflict with the California Attendance Code. A student who is 18 or older may explain and excuse their own absences with the attendance office. A valid excuse such as illness or a doctor’s appointment must be provided whether it is a student or a parent or guardian requesting that the absence be excused.

Attendance clerk Barbara Borruso said she was instructed to enforce the new policy by former assistant principal David Rice. Although principal J.C. Farr would not admit the existence of such a policy, dozens of seniors interviewed said that they had been prevented from excusing themselves more than 10 times in a semester.

This process is inconsistent with California Education Code 46012, which states that: “For purposes of any procedure for verification of absences from school, a student 18 years of age or over, with respect to his own absences from school, shall have all of the responsibilities and powers which, in the case of a minor, would be charged to the parent, guardian, or other person having charge or control of the minor.”

After numerous interviews with assistant principals and Farr, The Tam News was unable to locate the attendance limitation anywhere in writing. As of now, the only official Tam attendance policy is the California Education Code, which does not limit the number of absences an adult student may excuse. Included in the Tam policy is the following: “Students are required to attend classes in accordance with compulsory full-time education laws (Education Code 48200) … The school may request medical verification when the student has ten (10) or more medically excused absences per year.” While Tam has the legal ability to request medical verification after ten medical excuses, the school rarely does so. There is no distinction, in the attendance policy, between the permissions of an adult student and of a parent or guardian.

On May 9, Farr stated via email that Tam does and will operate in accordance with the California Education Code.

“We follow California Education Code which allows students over the age of 18 to excuse themselves, provided that they have a valid excuse,” Farr said.