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What are the laws governing compulsory school attendance for children?

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Quick Answer

Laws governing compulsory school attendance for children require school-aged children to attend school until a particular age or graduation from high school. Actual laws vary from state to state, as does the definition of a "school-aged" child, which ranges from the ages of 5 or 6 to 16 or 18.

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Full Answer

Each state has its own laws regarding school attendance. All states allow a parent to enroll a child in a private school or to homeschool rather than use a public school, but the requirements for each vary according to the state. The typical components of compulsory education laws include the mandatory entrance and exit ages of children, the length of a school year, and student enrollment requirements and procedures. Truancy laws deal with the issue of children not attending school regularly or otherwise failing to abide by compulsory education laws. Many jurisdictions have attendance compliance officers or juvenile domestic relations courts to enforce school attendance requirements.

The legal system holds parents responsible for their child's truancy or noncompliance with the law. Consequences to the parents can involve the charge of educational neglect. Consequences to students can include removal from the classroom, alternative school placement or punishments such as the revocation of driving privileges. If a child is unable to attend school due to a disability, the school district is required by law to provide an alternative educational setting that meets the child's needs.

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