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Rhode Island Compulsory Education Laws

Each state requires children within a given age range to regularly attend school, which may include homeschooling, private, religious, or public school. While truancy laws are meant to discourage children from skipping school, state compulsory education laws are targeted toward parents who have failed to enroll their child or have not made efforts to ensure regular attendance.

In some cases, parents may be held criminally liable for not making sure their children attend school. Parents who choose to homeschool their child must follow certain requirements, which are meant to provide the same quality of education the child would have received in a public institution.

Rhode Island Compulsory Education Laws at a Glance

Rhode Island law requires children between the ages of six and 16 to attend school, with the exception of certain physical or mental conditions that may render this impractical or where the child is barred by a law or regulation. If the problem is not corrected through administrative means, the parent(s) may be held criminal liable and could face fines and even jail.

It is worth noting that, until 2019, some adults may have been compelled to receive additional education. Until House Bill 5168 was passed, people between the ages of 16 and 21 who could not speak, read, or write English could be required to attend at least 200 hours of English education until they achieved a “reasonable facility” with the English language. This, however, is no longer the case.

Learn more about compulsory education laws in Rhode Island, including exemptions, in the following chart.

Code Section 16-19-1, et seq.
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 6 and 16
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements Child attends private school or is home-instructed by approval of school committee; physical/mental condition of child renders attendance impracticable; child is excluded from school by virtue of a law or regulation
Home School Provisions Period of attendance is same as public schools; register kept and reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, history of Rhode Island and U.S., and principles of American government are taught
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance Not more than $50 for each absent day and if days exceed 30 during a school year parent shall be imprisoned up to 6 months and/or fined up to $500

Note: No state laws are written in stone and are subject to change at any time, whether a new piece of legislation is enacted or a higher court has overturned an existing law. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a Rhode Island education law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Rhode Island Compulsory Education Laws: Related Resources

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