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Your Child’s Attendance Requirements

If there are any issues that arise between you and the school district regarding your child’s school attendance or a dispute pertaining to the residency status of your child, please contact one of our attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C.

 

Attendance

As a parent, you are responsible for ensuring that your child is regularly attending school. Attendance is basic to your child’s ability to obtain a proper education. In Connecticut, if your child is over the age of 5 and under the age of 18, you must ensure that he or she attends public school regularly during the normal operating hours of the school district in which your child resides. Meanwhile, New York law mandates that all children between the ages of 6 and 16 attend school, subject to certain exceptions.

In both Connecticut and New York, if your child is a high school graduate or you are able to demonstrate that your child is receiving instruction in the appropriate studies equivalent to that taught in public school (e.g. homeschooling, private school), then your child will be excused from this mandatory attendance requirement.

Is my 17-year-old child permitted to withdraw from attending school in Connecticut?

While New York has no attendance requirement for children 17 or older, Connecticut generally requires children to attend school until they reach the age of 18. However, a parent or other person having control of a child who is at least seventeen (17) years of age, may consent to their child’s withdrawal from attending school in Connecticut.

What is the maximum age at which I must enroll my child in school?

In Connecticut, a parent has the option to exempt a child from attending school until the age of seven (7) provided the parent appears at the child’s school district’s office and signs an “Option to Exempt” form.

Is there a penalty for failing to comply with the mandatory attendance requirements?

Failure as a parent to comply with the requirement that your child attend public school (absent alternative means of instruction), is a violation of criminal law. In
Connecticut, if your child fails to attend school as required, you are subject to a fine not to exceed $25 per day.

Meanwhile, in New York, for a first offense, parents who do not send their children to school may be fined $10 or put in jail for ten (10) days. Subsequent offenders can be fined $50 or put in jail for up to 30 days. Failure to send your child to school may also subject you to investigation by your local child protective agency for educational neglect.

Am I responsible for mandatory attendance requirements if my child attends private
school?

As a parent, you are still required to comply with the mandatory attendance laws set forth above if your child attends private school in Connecticut or New York. Private schools must submit school attendance reports to the Commissioner of Education. If your child’s attendance reports are not satisfactory, a complaint may be filed in court by the superintendent of the school district in which you and your child reside.

What is a Truant?

Connecticut law defines a “truant” as a child age 5 to 18 who is enrolled in public or private school and has 4 unexcused absences from school in any 1 month or 10 unexcused absences from school in any 1 year. Under New York law, there are two types of illegal absence: educational neglect and truancy. Educational neglect is absence with the knowledge and consent of parents for other than legal reasons. On the other hand, truancy occurs when students, whose parents expect them to be in school, do not attend for reasons other than sickness, sickness or death in the family, impassable roads or weather making travel unsafe, religious observance, approved school-supervised trips, and required presence in court.

What are the policies and procedures my child’s school may adopt concerning truancy?

In Connecticut, your local board of education must adopt and implement policies and procedures concerning truants, which must include:
• The holding of a meeting with you and your truant child and appropriate school personnel to review and evaluate the reasons for your child’s truancy, provided such meeting is held no later than ten (10) school days after your child’s fourth unexcused absence in any month or tenth unexcused absence in a school year.

• Coordinating services with referrals of children to community agencies providing child and family services.

• Notifying you annually at the beginning of the school year and upon any enrollment during the school year, as a parent having control of a child enrolled in a public school from kindergarten to grade eight (8), in writing of the obligations you have as a parent.

• Obtaining from you, annually at the beginning of the school year and upon any enrollment during the school year, as a parent of a child from kindergarten to grade eight (8), a telephone number or other means of contact.

• A system of monitoring individual unexcused absences of children from kindergarten to grade eight (8), ensuring that whenever a child fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no indication has been received by school personnel that you, the parent, are aware of his or her absence, that a reasonable effort is made by school personnel or volunteers under the direction of school personnel to notify you, by telephone.

In New York City, a student with less than 90% attendance is considered chronically absent. Each school must have a practical mechanism to notify parents when students are absent or late.

What if, as a parent or guardian, I fail to comply with the school policies and procedures
regarding truancy?

In Connecticut, if a parent fails to attend a truancy meeting regarding your child’s truant status or cooperate with the school to attempt to solve the truancy problem, then the superintendent of your school district must file a written complaint with the court. In New York, if you fail to ensure that your child attends school regularly and on time, the Administration for Children’s Services may file a neglect petition against you in Family Court.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions about education law in Connecticut or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or JMaya@Mayalaw.com to schedule a free initial consultation today.