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Indiana Compulsory Education Laws

It’s the eternal question from kids: “Why do I have to go to school?” Meanwhile, parents are constantly wondering how to best meet their children’s schooling requirements. The answer to both is the Hoosier State’s education laws that require some level of formal schooling. This is a quick introduction to compulsory education laws in Indiana.

Compulsory Education

Laws that require children of a certain age to obtain a formal education exist in every state, and they can apply to public school, private school, home school, or something else. Indiana’s compulsory education laws require kids between the ages of seven and 16 (so long as the exit interview requirement is met) to attend school. In addition, an Indiana superintendent is empowered to pursue criminal prosecutions of parents for non-enrollment of a child.

Indiana’s Compulsory Education Statutes

Learn more about Indiana’s compulsory education laws in the table below.

Code Section

20-8.1-3-17, et seq.

Age at Which School Attendance is Required

Between 7 and 16 if an exit interview requirement is met; otherwise 18

Exceptions to Attendance Requirements

Child provided with instruction equivalent to public education or in nonaccredited, nonpublic school; child is physically/mentally unfit for attendance

Home School Provisions

Notice to superintendent of school and must provide an "equivalent education" (See Mazanec v. North Judson-San Pierre Sch. Corp., 614 F. Supp. 1152 (N.D.Ind. 1875), affirmed. 798 F. 2d 230 (7th Cir. 1986))

Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance

Class B misdemeanor

While mandatory schooling is still the norm, there are a few exceptions to compulsory education laws, most notably some based on religious beliefs. So long as parents meet the same educational standards for their children required of public and state-accredited private schools, states generally grant exemptions to children who attend home school. Some states also offer work release permits that can allow a student to work a limited amount of hours outside of school during a normal school day. In Indiana, if a public school student has reached the age of 16 and has yet to graduate, they may request an exit interview to terminate school enrollment in order to end compulsory school attendance, with the exit interview attended by the student, his or her parent or guardian, a designated appropriate school employee, and the school principal.

Indiana Compulsory Education Laws: Related Resources

Education law can be complex, especially when it comes to meeting education requirements. If you would like legal assistance regarding an education matter, you can contact an Indiana education attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw's Compulsory Education section for more articles and resources on this topic.

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