California Education Code; Compulsory Education Laws

Information on the Law about California Compulsory Education

It is a must for children between the age of 6 and 18 years to attend school in the Golden State. Several laws exist to minimize truancy and extreme absenteeism, which are taken seriously. A student who violates California compulsory education laws and has a pattern of unexcused absences from school could be referred to court together with their parents.

California Education Code dictates that any person between the ages of 6 and 18 has to attend school full-time unless exempted. However, 16- and 17-year-olds who have graduated from high school or have passed the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE), and have the permission of their parents or guardians, do not have to attend school.

There are several circumstances where a student may be excused from a California school if absent. For instance, where they are ill, directed to quarantine by a county or city health officer, on jury duty, caring for a sick child of whom they are the custodial parent, serving as a member of the precinct board for an election, or attending their naturalization ceremony to become a United States citizen. There are several other justifiable reasons for school absences that the law permits, including a court appearance or observance of a religious ceremony or holiday.

California compulsory education laws exempt a child from full-time public education if they are being taught in a private full-time day school by a certified teacher who can offer instruction in various study areas needed to be taught in the state’s public schools. A child who is being instructed by a private tutor or any other person in the same study areas required in the state’s public school is also exempted.

California Education Code states that a child’s local school district, as well as relevant law enforcement officials, must determine whether a home-schooled child is attending a private school and is exempt from compulsory public school attendance. There are various legal requirements that parents must comply with before they can home-school their children. For example, starters have to file the Private School Affidavit with the California Department of Education.

It is a legal obligation for parents in California to send their kids to school and to comply with the instructions from the attendance review board. A parent whose child plays truant or is frequently absent can be offered parent conferences, support services, or mediation. California Compulsory Education laws aim to help pupils and their families and encourage children to finish their education. 

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