North Carolina Compulsory Education Laws

Every state requires children within a specified age range to attend some form of structured schooling, which may include homeschooling or private school instead of public school. North Carolina's compulsory education laws require children between seven and sixteen 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 charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Some of the most important details of North Carolina compulsory education laws are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Compulsory Education section and the links at the end of this article to learn more.

Code Section

North Carolina compulsory education laws are found in General Statutes section 115C-378.

Age at Which School Attendance is Required

Children between ages seven and sixteen must attend school.

Who Must Make Sure a Child Attends School? A child’s parent, guardian, or custodian who has control and care of the child
What Type of Attendance is Required?

A child must attend school continuously for a period of time that is equal to the session at the public school where the child is assigned.

School principals, superintendents, and other designated individuals may excuse students for illness or other unavoidable reason. Attendance records must be maintained by schools and after three unexcused absences in a year, a school must notify a child’s parent or guardian.

Exceptions to Attendance Requirements

Exceptions to the attendance requirements must be approved by state board of education. Examples of reasons an exception may be granted include the child’s inability to attend due to mental or physical capabilities or the immediate demands of the farm or home.

Home School Provisions

If parents choose to home school their children, they must maintain the same minimum curriculum standards as are required of public school, be recognized by Office of Non-Public Schools, and meet conditions of Article 39 of Chapter 115C (including requirements regarding standardized testing and keeping attendance and medical records)

Penalties for Parents for Noncompliance

Parents who fail to follow compulsory education laws may be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor.

If you have questions about your rights or obligations as a parent of a student in North Carolina, you may want to contact a North Carolina education attorney.

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North Carolina Compulsory Education Laws: Related Resources

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