By Dugan P. Kelley

In the past 10 years there has been an upswing in popularity of hybrid schools, home schools, and alternative schooling options for parents.  Parents who pursue these schooling options understandably have the same questions.  Perhaps, you are considering alternative schooling options for your children.  Here are a number of common questions and the answers you will need:

At what age does my child need to go to school?

In Texas, you will need to send your child to school at age 6 or younger if your child is already enrolled in first grade.  The Texas Education Code sets forth the compulsory age for sending your child to school as follows:

Sec. 25.085.  COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE.  (a)  A child who is required to attend school under this section shall attend school each school day for the entire period the program of instruction is provided.

(b)  Unless specifically exempted by Section 25.086, a child who is at least six      years of age, or who is younger than six years of age and has previously been enrolled in first grade, and who has not yet reached the child’s 19th birthday shall attend school.

Are there any exemptions to the requirement to send my child to public school?

Yes, there are exemptions to being forced to send your child to public school.  Here are the exemptions that Texas Education Code Section 25.086 provides:

(1)  Your child attends a private or parochial school that includes in its course a study of good citizenship;

(2)  Your child is eligible to participate in a school district’s special education program, which isn’t provided by the school district;

(3) Your child has special needs that makes it infeasible.  This will require a certificate from a licensed physician describing the condition;

(4)  Your child has been expelled in a school district;

(5)  Your child is at least 17 years of age and is attending a course of instruction for the high school equivalency, or has received a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate:

(6)  Your child is at least 16 years of age and is attending a course of instruction to prepare for the high school equivalency examination, if recommended by a public agency that has supervision or custody of the child, or Your child is enrolled in a Jobs Corps training program under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998;

(7)  Your child is at least 16 years of age and is enrolled in a qualified high school diploma program;

(8)  Your child is enrolled in the qualified Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science;

(9)  Your child is enrolled in the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities;

(10)  Your child is enrolled in the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at The University of Texas at Brownsville;

(11)  Your child is enrolled in the Texas Academy of International Studies; or

(12)  Your child is specifically exempted under another law.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Kelley Clarke PC if you need to determine whether your child falls into one of the exemptions above.

Does the School District have to excuse my child for absences?

It depends.  The Texas Education Code specifically allows teachers, principal, or superintendent of the school where your child is enrolled to excuse any temporary absence from “any cause acceptable.”  Section 25.087.  Please check with your school on what is “acceptable.”  In certain circumstances, excuses are automatic.  Mandatory excuses are the following:

Observing religious holy days;

Attending a required court appearance;

Appearing at a governmental office to complete paperwork required in connection with the student’s application for United States citizenship;

Taking part in a United States naturalization oath ceremony;

Serving as an election clerk; or

If your child is in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services, participating in a qualified activity.

Please contact your school prior to determining whether an absence is qualified, excused, or not excused.  If you need assistance in determining these issues, please contact Kelley Clarke PC.

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