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Tennessee Compulsory Education Laws

While parents have a lot of freedom with regard to raising their children, all states require children of a certain age range to attend formal schooling. However, state compulsory education laws typically allow for a wide variety of schooling options, including private institutions and homeschooling. In Tennessee, children between the ages of six and 17 must attend school. Exceptions include those who have graduated or earned a GED, those who are physically or mentally unable to perform school duties, and those whose conduct is disruptive to the school environment.

What Are the Penalties for Skipping School?

Generally, courts look for a pattern of noncompliance with compulsory education laws in which the parents are negligent. If a student is out of school without notice or permission, the parent will likely be contacted by the school. But the next step may involve the courts, which will provide notice to the parents. If there's no compliance after the notice is sent, the parents may be fined $50 (per violation) or sentenced to community service.

Learn more about Tennessee's compulsory education laws by reviewing the following chart. Additional articles and resources can be found in FindLaw's Compulsory Education section, including information about homeschooling regulations.

Code Section 49-6-3001, et seq.
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 6 and 17 inclusive
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements Child has graduated high school or has GED; physical/mental incapacity; mentally or physically incapacitated to perform school duties; child is 17 and conduct is detrimental to good order and benefit of other children; home school or nonpublic school instruction
Home School Provisions Approved by local education agency; teacher/parent must have at least GED for teaching K-8, baccalaureate degree for 9-12; give notice; maintain records; at least 4 hours per day; standardized tests taken; parents associated with church-related school organizations exempt from requirements
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance After notice and failure to comply, judge may fine up to $50 or 5 hours community service; class C misdemeanor

Note: State laws are constantly changing. While we work tirelessly to keep these pages up to date, you may also want to contact a Tennessee education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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