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Massachusetts Compulsory Education Laws

All parents want to make sure their children get the best education, while the kids are wondering why they even have to go to school in the first place. And education law in the Bay State can be a little tricky in terms of what is required. So here is a brief summary of compulsory education laws in Massachusetts.

Compulsory Education

Every state requires children within a specified age range to attend some form of structured schooling, which may be homeschooling or private school instead of public school. Massachusetts' compulsory education laws require children age seven and older to attend school, unless they are deemed mentally or physically unable to attend or have immediate needs at home. Parents who fail to comply may be fined.

Compulsory Education Laws in Massachusetts

Some of the most important details of Massachusetts compulsory education laws are listed in the following chart.

Code Section

76 §1, et seq.

Age at Which School Attendance is Required

Established by Board of Education; pending such establishment :7 & 16 (St. 1965, c. 741); 7 minimum (Alvord v. Chester, 180 Mass. 20, 61 N.E. 263 (1901));

Exceptions to Attendance Requirements

14 to 16 years old, completed 6th grade, holds permit for employment in domestic service or farm, and is regularly employed there 6 hours per day minimum; 14 to 16 years old, meets requirements and has written permission of superintendent to engage in non-wage earning employment at home; physical/mental condition does not permit

Home School Provisions

Approval falls to superintendent or school committee; may review curriculum, method of evaluation, nature of textbooks and other factors (Care & Protection of Charles, 504 N.E. 2d 592 (1987))

Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance

Up to $20 fine for any absence over 7 days (or 14 half-days) in a period of 6 months

While mandatory schooling remains a general requirement, there are some exceptions to compulsory education laws, including for religious beliefs. As long as parents and children have an educational plan that meets the same educational standards required of public and state-accredited private schools, children who attend home school will normally be exemptions from the compulsory education statute. Additionally, Massachusetts offers work permits that allow students to work a certain amount of hours outside of the school during the normal school day.

Massachusetts Compulsory Education Laws: Related Resources

The laws regarding education can be confusing, especially when you’re trying to make sense of state statutes. For more introductory information on this topic, you can visit FindLaw's Compulsory Education section. If you think you need legal advice on an education matter, you can contact a Massachusetts education attorney in your area to discuss your case.

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