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District of Columbia Compulsory Education Laws

Regular school attendance by children of a certain age range is required in all states, with some exceptions. This requirement is not limited to just public education, though, as parents are free to enroll their child in private, religious, or even home school in all states. These laws are focused on the parents, often invoked when parents either fail to enroll their child or have not taken steps to curb their child's chronic truancy.

Penalties typically start with administrative efforts at compliance, but parents may be charged with misdemeanor charges in most states if they refuse to comply. Parents who choose to home school their child must provide a similar curriculum and comparable time commitment to that of a public school program.

Washington, D.C. Compulsory Education Laws at a Glance

Learn about compulsory education laws in the District of Columbia, including exemptions and home school requirements, in the following chart.

Code Section 38-202, et seq.; Chapter 52 of Title 5, District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), "Districtof Columbia Home Schooling"
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 5 and 18
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements Child obtained diploma; if 17 and lawfully employed, school hours may be flexible
Home School Provisions

For each year in which a home schooling program continues, the parent or legal guardian shall file a Home Schooling Notification Form identifying each child being home schooled, no later than August 15th of each year.

The home schooling program for each student shall:

  • Provide thorough, regular instruction of sufficient duration to implement the home school program; and
  • Provide instruction that includes, but need not be limited to, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance Misdemeanor; at least $100 fine or prison up to 5 days or both per offense or community service in the alternate; One offense is the equivalent of missing 2 full-day sessions or 4 half-day sessions in one month; failure to enroll child is also offense

Note: State laws are not permanent and may change at any time, usually when new legislation is enacted but sometimes through higher court decisions or other means. We strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, but you also may want to contact a District of Columbia education law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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