Legal to school your tyke at home? Probably!

What Are the Consequences of Not Sending Your Kids to School?

by Anne Goetz

Not sending your tots to school can land you in a world of trouble, or it can be perfectly legal, depending upon your reasons for keeping them home. Mandatory school attendance in most states doesn't kick in until the age of 6. In some states, including Virginia, Maryland, South Dakota, Nevada and Connecticut, there's a one-year grace period, if you want to call it that, until things can get sticky, as of 2013.

1. By Law, When is Your Little Tyke Required to Start School?

Currently, the minimum compulsory ages when youngsters are required to attend school are 5, 6, 7 or 8. It varies by state. The majority of states have adapted age 6 as their minimum compulsory school age, as noted by the Education Commission of the States.

2. Are You Required by Law to Send Your Kids to Public School?

While all kids in the U.S. are required by law to attend school, they're not required to attend public school. Other options that may be legal in your state include private school, charter, cyber, church or umbrella schools, home school or even unschool, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

3. What Happens if You Never Send Your Little Ones to School?

As long as you're in compliance with state requirements regarding the education of your youngsters, it's perfectly legal not to send them to traditional public school. The key here is compliance with state law. If you don't clearly understand the education laws in your state or you're unsure how to document your child's educational journey, you must clarify before your tot reaches compulsory school age. When you become out of compliance with state laws, intentionally or not, there may be repercussions.

4. Consequences for Being Out of Compliance

When a parent falls out of compliance, school districts are permitted to take action that varies by state. Usually, parents receive a letter notifying them that their youngster is truant, with instructions for further action. Some states, such as Iowa, can delay a habitually-truant teen's driver's license until age 18. More aggressive states such as Florida might involve the district attorney to begin legal intervention proceedings against the parents.

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