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Colorado Compulsory Education Laws

As kids, most of us at least occasionally wanted a day off to sleep in or to run off on a crazy adventure like Ferris Bueller. Unfortunately, it’s technically against the law for school-aged children to skip school. Skipping school is called truancy. Compulsory education laws to prevent truancy and to ensure everyone has a basic level of education exist across the United States.

The table below outlines the Colorado’s compulsory education laws.

Code Sections Colorado Revised Statutes Sections 22-33-104 to 22-33-?: School Attendance Act of 1963
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Children between the ages of 6 (on August 1 of each year) and 16 must attend school.
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements The compulsory attendance law doesn’t apply to children when:
  • Temporarily ill or injured
  • Absent due to physical, mental, or emotional disabilities (doesn’t excuse deaf or blind children from attending a suitable specialized program)
  • Attending an independent or parochial school to provides basic education (including reading, writing, speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, and science)
  • Schooled at home by a teacher or parent who’s following the requirements listed below
  • Participating in a qualified online education program
  • Suspended, expelled, or lawful denied admission
  • Working with a school certificate or work permit under the Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act of 1971
  • Participating in a work-study program as part of a public school
  • Under lawful custody in juvenile detention or jail (where they will be provided education on-site)
  • Already graduated from the 12th grade
Homeschool Requirements
Parents who homeschool their children don’t have to follow the rules in the Colorado Educator Licensing Act of 1991, but they must:

  • Provide 4 hours of instruction on average a day for 172 days per year of basic education including reading, writing, speaking, math, history, civics, literature, science, and the U.S. Constitution
  • Give written notice every year of their intent to home school
  • Ensure their children are evaluated, as required, at grades 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11
Penalties for Noncompliance Each school district has at least one attendance officer designated to enforce compulsory education in his or her schools. The school board for each district also has to adopt and implement policies and procedures for handling habitually truant children and their parents. The goal is to help children stay in school. Sometimes fixing a different problem, such as creating a child special education plan for the child or removing a bully from his or her class, will stop the child from ditching school.

A child is considered “habitually truant” when a child required to attend school has four unexcused absences in one month or ten unexcused absences in any school year. Habitually truant children can be sent to juvenile detention, put on house arrest with an ankle monitor, have a truancy officer call them or pick them up to take them to school, and additional penalties.

Parents of habitually truant children can also be punished by the Truancy Court. If a abuse or neglect is found to be a part of the truancy problem, a child can be removed from the home.

Note: State laws change all the time, it’s important to verify these state laws by conducting your own research or contacting an experienced Colorado Education Law attorney.

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