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Maryland Compulsory Education Laws

All states, including Maryland, require some type of formal education for children of a certain age range, which is governed by state law. The laws don't differ too much and generally require children from early childhood through their teens to attend school full time, with some exceptions. While all states offer the option of taxpayer-funded public schooling, parents are free to choose religious, private, or home schooling options instead.

Even though most U.S. schools were private (typically provided by churches) prior to the 20th century, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a compulsory education law in 1852. This quickly spread throughout the country and became the norm in all U.S. states by 1918.

Overview of Maryland Law with Respect to Compulsory Education

Maryland law requires children between the ages of five and 16 to attend school, which may include homeschool or other non-public options. Families that decide to homeschool their children must follow the state's guidelines to ensure their children are receiving an adequate education. Specifically, any homeschool program must:

  • Provide regular, thorough instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age;
  • Include instruction in English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education; and
  • Take place on a regular basis during the school year and be of sufficient duration to implement the instruction program.

Parents who do not comply with Maryland's compulsory education laws may be subject to fines and even jail terms. See FindLaw's Compulsory Education section for additional articles.

Code Section Educ. 7-301
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 5 and 16
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements Receiving other regular, thorough instruction in studies usually taught in public schools to children of same age group; mental/emotional/physical condition which makes his instruction detrimental to his progress or whose presence presents danger of serious physical harm to others
Home School Provisions Receiving otherwise regular, thorough instruction in studies usually taught in public schools to children of same age group
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance Guilty of misdemeanor; first conviction: subject to fine up to $50 and/or up to 10 days jail; subsequent conviction: fine of $100 and/or up to 30 days jail

Note: State laws are constantly changing. While FindLaw makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of its state law content, you may also want to contact a Maryland education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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