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Alabama Compulsory Education Laws

All states require children of a certain age range to attend some kind of formal schooling, whether it's public, private, religious, or home school. After all, it is in the state's best interests to maintain an educated populace. These compulsory education laws are usually enforced on the parents, who may face criminal charges for actively keeping their children out of school (typically only when administrative attempts fail). Any home schooling arrangement must meet certain curriculum and instruction criteria set out by the state.

Compulsory Education Laws in Alabama

Children between the ages of seven and 16 are required to attend school in Alabama, with a few exceptions that include certain physical/mental conditions and regular employment.

State law outlines procedures for school boards and juvenile courts to follow when a student is chronically absent, but also allows for misdemeanor charges with a fine of up to $100 and up to 90 days of hard labor. Alabama statute makes it clear that enforcement of the law shall be "liberally construed" and that the courts are "vested with a wide discretion in its administration," a mandate to apply the law on a case-by-case basis.

See the following chart for additional details about Alabama's compulsory education laws.

Code Section 16-28-1, et seq.
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 7 and 16
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements Church school students; child privately tutored by certified instructor; child whose physical/mental condition prevents attendance; child would be compelled to walk over 2 miles to attend public school; child legally and regularly employed; children over 16 who have completed public school course of study
Home School Provisions Exempted from Chapter 46 regulating certain schools and courses of instruction (§§16-46-1, et seq.)
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance Misdemeanor: Fine up to $100 and possibly up to 90 days hard labor for the county

Note: State laws are constantly changing. Be sure to contact an Alabama education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

What Are Alabama's Homeschool Requirements?

Alabama law offers a few options for parents who choose to homeschool their children, including:

  • Through a church school (statute includes "home programs" in its definition)
  • Private school option (must register with the State Board of Education, keep detailed records, etc.)
  • Under instruction of a private tutor (may include parents who are certified teachers)

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