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New York Compulsory Education Laws

In New York, as in all U.S. states, compulsory education laws mandate some form of education for children from early childhood through their teens. Education is deemed a fundamental right and responsibility for each state to legislate and monitor. New York allows most alternative forms of education as well, including home schooling or private schools, and other exceptions.

The basic provisions of New York compulsory education laws are listed in the table below, while a more in-depth look at the law follows. See FindLaw's Compulsory Education section to learn more.

Code Section Educ. §§3201, et seq.
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 6 and 16
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements Non-public or home instruction; mental/physical condition endangers him or others; completed 4 year high school program; full-time employment certificate; may also be allowed to attend part-time with employment
Home School Provisions Instruction given to a minor must be at least substantially equivalent to the instruction that would be received by minors of like age and attainments in the public school where child resides
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance 1st offense: fine not exceeding $10 or 10 days jail; subsequent offense: up to $50 and/or 30 days jail

Who must attend school?

Children between the ages of six and sixteen are required to attend school in New York. However, some students may be able to start kindergarten before they turn five years old.

Exceptions to Education

Although all children between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Private Instruction

Parents are allowed to send their children to private school. Some parents believe that their children will receive a better education from a private school. Other parents may want religious instruction to be included in their children's education, and can choose to send them to a religious private school.

Dangerous Mental/Physical Condition

If a student has a mental or physical condition that makes them dangerous to themselves or others, they do not need to attend school. However, the local school district may require that the child receives private instruction in a safer location.

Home School

Parents are allowed to home school their children. Often, this means that the parents become the primary instructors. However, there are some newer options that allow students to attend school online, rather than using their parents as the instructor. They may be able to submit homework and other assignments online, to a human grader or an online program.

New York education law requires that the home school education is substantially equivalent to the instruction that would be given at a public school. In order to meet this requirement, home school parents often get help from homeschool course guides.

Completing High School

Some accelerated students may end high school early. This may be the result of taking extra courses than required or taking courses at a local college which meet their high school's requirements. If a student completes his or her high school course requirements, they are no longer required to attend high school.

Full Time Employment

If a child is working full time, they may be eligible to receive a certificate to not attend school. However, they may be required to attend school part time.

Penalties for Parents

For a first offense, parents who do not send their children to school may be fined $10, or put in jail for ten days. Subsequent offenders can be fined $50 or put in jail up to 30 days.

If you would like to know more about New York's educational requirements, there are many attorneys in your area with education law experience who may be able to help. If you are concerned about criminal charges you may wish to speak with a New York lawyer with experience in criminal law.

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