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Illinois Compulsory Education Laws

A minimum amount of formal education is mandatory in all states, whether it is public, private, religious, or homeschooling. State compulsory education laws define which types of schooling are acceptable and the ages between which school attendance is required. Illinois compulsory education laws mandate that children between the ages of seven and 16 must attend school. For every child born in Illinois after 2021, the state also puts $50 in their college savings account.

That said, the Illinois compulsory attendance statute does provide for some exceptions, namely that the following children shall not be required to attend the public schools:

  1. Any child attending a private or a parochial school where children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language;
  2. Any child who is physically or mentally unable to attend school, such disability being certified to the county or district truant officer by a licensed and approved medical professional; the exemptions in this paragraph (2) do not apply to any female who is pregnant or the mother of one or more children, except where a female is unable to attend school due to a complication arising from her pregnancy and the existence of such complication is certified to the county or district truant officer by a competent physician;
  3. Any child necessarily and lawfully employed according to the provisions of the law regulating child labor may be excused from attendance at school by the county superintendent of schools or the superintendent of the public school which the child should be attending, on certification of the facts by and the recommendation of the school board of the public school district in which the child resides;
  4. Any child over 12 and under 14 years of age while in attendance at confirmation classes;
  5. Any child absent from a public school on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day for the reason that he is unable to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirements on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day, because the tenets of his religion forbid secular activity on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day; and
  6. Any child 16 years of age or older who (i) submits to a school district evidence of necessary and lawful employment pursuant to paragraph 3 of this Section and (ii) is enrolled in a graduation incentives program pursuant to Section 26-16 of this Code or an alternative learning opportunities program established pursuant to Article 13B of this Code.


Learn more about Illinois compulsory education laws in the following table. See FindLaw's Compulsory Education section for additional articles.

Code Section 105 ILCS 5/26-1, et seq.
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 7 and 16
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements See statutory list above
Home School Provisions People v. Levisen, 90 N.E.2d 213 (1950). Home instruction may constitute a private school.
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance Conviction is Class C misdemeanor subject to up to 30 days imprisonment and/or fine up to $500

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an Illinois education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Illinois Compulsory Education Laws: Related Resources

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