4.1.4 Excused and Unexcused Absences

Excused and Unexcused Absences

(SFUSD Board Policy 5113)

Valid Excused Absences (Absences Excused by State law)

Verification of student absences is accepted only from parents/guardians/caregivers, or the student if they are 18 years old or older.

CA Education Code 48205 states that a student shall be excused from school when the absence is:

  1. Due to the pupil's illness, including an absence for the benefit of the pupil’s mental or behavioral health.
  2. Due to quarantine under the direction of a county or city health officer.
  3. For the purpose of having medical, dental, optometric, or chiropractic services rendered.
  4. For the purpose of attending the funeral services of a member of the pupil's immediate family, so long as the absence is not more than one day if the service is conducted in California and not more than three days if the service is conducted outside California.
  5. For the purpose of jury duty in the manner provided for by law. 
  6. Due to the illness or medical appointment during school hours of a child of whom the pupil is the custodial parent, including absences to care for a sick child, for which the school shall not require a note from a doctor.
  7. For justifiable personal reasons, including, but not limited to, an appearance in court, attendance at a funeral service, observance of a holiday or ceremony of the pupil's religion, attendance at religious retreats (not to exceed four hours per semester), attendance at an employment conference, attendance at an educational conference on the legislative or judicial process offered by a nonprofit organization, or a visit to a college or university, when the student’s absence has been requested in writing by the parent or guardian and approved in advance by the principal or a designated representative pursuant to uniform standards established by the governing board.
  8. For the purpose of serving as a member of a precinct board for an election pursuant to Section 12302 of the Elections Code.
  9. For the purpose of spending time with an immediate family member who is an active duty member of the uniformed services, as defined in CA Education Code 49701, and has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has immediately returned from, deployment to a combat zone or a combat support position. Absences granted pursuant to this paragraph shall be granted for a period of time to be determined at the discretion of the superintendent of the school district.
  10. For the purpose of attending the pupil's naturalization ceremony to become a United States citizen.
  11. For the purpose of participating in a cultural ceremony or event.
  12. To participate in religious exercises or to receive moral and religious instruction, subject to the following conditions: the student has parent/guardian written consent for the absence; is in grades 4-12; shall attend at least the minimum school day; and shall be excused from school for this purpose on no more than four days per school month, and no more than 60 minutes on a single day once a week, during the last hour of the school day.  (EC 46014)
  13. For the purpose of a middle school or high school pupil engaging in a civic or political event, provided that the pupil notifies the school ahead of the absence. (Section 48260)
  14.  Authorized at the discretion of a school administrator, as described in subdivision (c) of Section 48260.

(CA Education Code 46014, SFUSD Administrative Regulation 5113)

Make-Up Work

A student absent from school under this section shall be allowed to complete all assignments and tests missed during the absence that can be reasonably provided and, upon satisfactory completion within a reasonable period of time, shall be given full credit.  The teacher of any class from which a student is absent shall determine the tests and assignments which shall be reasonably equivalent to, but not necessarily identical to, the tests and assignments that the student missed during the absence. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange with the teacher to make up missed work.

No student may have their grade reduced or lose academic credit for any excused absence when missed assignments and tests are satisfactorily completed within a reasonable period of time. (SFUSD Board Policy 6154; CA Education Code 48205)

Confidential Medical Services

School authorities of students in grades 7-12 may excuse any student from school to obtain confidential medical services without the consent of the student's parent/guardian. (Education Code 46010.1)

For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

  1. A “civic or political event” includes, but is not limited to, voting, poll working, strikes, public commenting, candidate speeches, political or civic forums, and town halls.
  2. “Cultural” means relating to the habits, practices, beliefs, and traditions of a certain group of people.
  3. “Immediate family” means the parent or guardian, brother or sister, grandparent, or any other relative living in the household of the pupil.

(Amended by Stats. 2022, Ch. 921, Sec. 1 (SB 955) Effective January 1, 2023)

Chronic Absence

In our effort to promote satisfactory attendance, parents may receive calls after any absence, and can expect calls or written notification if “excused” absences become in excess of 10% of the school days. If excused absences or tardies due to illness exceed 10% of school days, the administrator may request medical verification of the need for absence.

Unexcused Absences

Definition of Unexcused Absence: 

  • Elementary: Missing a full day of school, being tardy 30 or more minutes without a valid excuse. 
  • Secondary (middle/high): Missing a full day of school, a class period, or being tardy 30 or more minutes within any class period of the school day.

It should be noted that being tardy in any amount of minutes beyond the bell is unacceptable and may result in loss of some school privileges or eligibility for attendance incentive recognitions

Unexcused Absences Include:

  1. Missing class or school without an excused or approved reason, whether the absence is student or parent/guardian/caregiver-initiated (e.g., for childcare or household shopping).
  2. Absences for which advance approval is necessary and was not obtained before the absence.

The school may request a meeting with the student and parent to agree on action steps.


See the full Handbook and downloadable, translated PDFs at sfusd.edu/Handbook.

This page was last updated on August 16, 2023