Question: Is it legal to take your child on a long vacation when school is in session?
Answer: Each U.S. state has truancy laws that vary in their strictness. Truancy means absent from school without permission.
For example, in California, all children between the ages of six and eighteen are required to attend public school, with exceptions for those who are homeschooled, attend private school, or who have special needs. Parents can be fined up to $2,500 and may face up to one year in jail if they permit their child to miss ten percent or more of school days. But only in the most chronic cases will school officials initiate legal action against a student or parents.
But many school districts have policies specifically designed to allow parents to take children out of school for longer family vacations. In some school districts, if a child will be absent for 5-15 days, parents may request Short Term Limited Independent Study. The teacher will then provide academic assignments for the student to complete while on vacation. After vacation, all completed work must be returned in order to receive academic credit. Remember that policies vary widely by school district and state, so contact your school first.