Did you know that in most states if your child does not enroll in school at the required attendance age (without notification) that you can be charged for truancy?!
Since the 1800’s states have claimed the legal responsibility of educating our children. Each state has their own Compulsory Attendance Law. As part of this law, most states consider homeschool an alternative schooling option. If you decide to homeschool, and take the legal responsibility of educating your child upon yourself, then your state may require that you officially notify the school district of your decision.
What is Truancy?
Each state’s Attendance Law requires children to enroll in school at a certain age. It also requires them to attend a specific number of days/hours per year. Breaking this law is referred to as truancy. Truancy is intentional, illegal, or unauthorized absence from school. The punishment for truancy is a fine (usually in the hundreds of dollars!). If your child is absent when they should legally be in attendance then the school can charge you for truancy.
The History of Attendance Laws
(The following information is from FindLaw.com)
It was in the nineteenth century that states officially began to take responsibility for educating children. Before that time education was a private matter. Teaching was handled by parents, churches, or communities that joined together and paid a teacher to educate their children.
Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to enact a Required Attendance Law in 1852. This law required every city and town to offer primary school. The focus of these schools was on grammar and basic arithmetic. Parents who refused to send their children to school were fined and (in some cases) stripped of their parental rights, and their children were apprenticed to others.
During the immigration boom between the 19th and 20th centuries, education was the best way to assimilate immigrant children. Attendance laws improved literacy rates and discouraged the widespread child labor practices of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Mississippi was the last state to pass a law requiring school attendance in 1917. Still, enforcement of these state laws was largely ineffective until people began to realize the value of an educated workforce.
Today education is a responsibility that local, state, and federal governments take seriously. Today schools have standard academic focuses and attendance laws requiring public school attendance of all children. However, these laws frequently exempt children with permanent or temporary mental or physical disabilities. Some states also exempt students who live more than two miles from a public transportation route. All states allow alternatives to public schools including private and parochial schools and, of course, home schools.
When And How Do I Notify The School District?
When and how you notify the School District depends on your state’s individual homeschool law. Each state has it’s own method and time period for when and how to give notice.
While all states have an Attendance Law, not all states require you to notify the school district that you have chosen to homeschool. The states that do not require notification are what we call “no regulation” states. In these states the law does not allow the school district to “regulate” homeschooling. For example in Oklahoma, which is a “no regulation” state, if you want to homeschool your child you do not need to send notification to the school district that you will be homeschooling.
12 of our 50 states are “no regulation” states. The other 38 states vary from low to moderate to high regulation. Some states only require notification once, while others require you to send notification on an annual basis every year that you homeschool. Some states that require notice will provide you with an official form, while other states, like Hawaii, only request certain information and don’t care if you send it formally or informally. In Pennsylvania, which is a “high regulation” state, parents must submit a notarized affidavit (with multiple attachments!) to the school district by August 1st, every year that they homeschool.
Find out what your state requires for notification! Use the menu at the top of this page to find your state’s homeschool law and read all about it.