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Washington Compulsory Education Laws

Formal education is a requirement for children of a certain age in all states, whether it's public school, private school, home school, or other types of instruction. Compulsory education laws were enacted in the U.S. around 1900 in order to protect child welfare. By 1918, every state had some form of a compulsory attendance law on the books.

What Are Washington's Compulsory Education Laws?

Washington's compulsory education laws require children between the ages of eight (8) and 18 to attend school, with some exceptions.

Exceptions to The Compulsory Education Law

For example, a child 16 or older can be legally exempt from attending school if he is she is either employed or has completed his or her graduation requirements early.

Penalties for Truancy

When a child doesn't attend school as required by law he or she is considered truant. That's when the juvenile court system gets involved.

The court may order attendance at current school, alternative school, another public school, a skill center, drop-out prevention program, a private school or education center, referral to a Community Truancy Board, or completion of a drug assessment test.

The court may order a student to report to county detention or order parents to perform community service and/or pay a fine of up to $25 per day for each unexcused absence, if the court rules that a student or parent violated a court order.

The main provisions of Washington compulsory education laws, and penalties for noncompliance, are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Compulsory Education and Types of Schools sections to learn more.

Code Section 28A.225.01 0; 090
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 8 and 18
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements Enrolled in private school; home-based instruction; physically/mentally incapable of attending; child is 16 or older and legally employed or has met graduation requirements or has received certificate of educational competence
Home School Provisions Instruction in occupational education, science, math, language, social studies, history, health, writing, reading, spelling, and appreciation for art and music; must be supervised by certified person or by a parent with 45 college level credit hours
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance $25 for each day of unexcused absence and/or community service; attendance officer may, through school district's attorney, petition juvenile court to assume jurisdiction

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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