COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE AGE LOWERED

Compulsory Attendance Age Lowered

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Senior Counsel Dee Blackanswers questions and assists members with legal issues in Alabama. He and his wife homeschooled their children.

On May 8, 2012, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed into law Senate Bill 28, thereby lowering the state’s compulsory attendance age from 7 to 6. Home School Legal Defense Association had urged its members to lobby against the bill because it constituted a further encroachment into the right of parents to direct the education of their children. HSLDA argued that parents, not the state, are best qualified to determine when their children are ready for formal instruction. In an apparent concession to the concerns of parents, the legislature amended the bill along the way by inserting a provision that states that a parent of a 6-year-old may opt out of enrolling the child in school until age 7. To do so, the parent must notify the local school board in writing that the child will not be enrolled until age 7. Senator Priscilla Dunn (19th District) was the sponsor of the bill.

This is the second time in three years that the Alabama Legislature has expanded the compulsory attendance law. In 2009, the law was changed to require school attendance until age 17 instead of 16, although there was an exemption for church school students who had enrolled in the school prior to age 16. The vast majority of parents in Alabama who teach their children at home do so through enrollment in a church school.

The new law goes into effect on August 1, 2012, in time for the upcoming 2012–2013 school year. HSLDA has developed a form for use by our members who wish to notify their local school board that their 6-year-old child will not be enrolled in school this year.