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West Virginia Compulsory Education Laws

While as children most of us fantasized about a day off from school, maybe even on a fun adventure like Ferris Bueller had, most of us attended school regularly. Technically, compulsory school laws in states across the nation require school-aged children to attend school. Skipping school is called truancy. State compulsory education laws try to prevent truancy by penalizing the practice.

Why Force Kids to Go to School?

The main policy reason behind compulsory education laws is to ensure everyone in the United States has a basic level of education. You don’t have to attend public school to comply with this law. Children can attend private schools, religious schools, or be homeschooled instead. Generally, the same basic reading, writing, math, American government, history, and other required subjects must be taught in non-public school options so that children are on near equal educational footing once they become adults.

West Virginia School Attendance Laws

The table below outlines the compulsory education laws in West Virginia.

Code Sections West Virginia Code Chapter 18, Article 8: Compulsory School Attendance and West Virginia Board of Education Policy 4110: Attendance
Ages at Which School Attendance is Required Children between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school. If a child over 16 is still enrolled in school, i.e. hasn’t already graduated, gotten a GED, or otherwise dropped out, then he or she must attend school.
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements A student doesn’t have to attend public school if they fall into any of the following exceptions:
  • Enrolled in private, parochial, or other approved school
  • Home schooled
  • Physical or mental incapacity, although note that school districts must provide free appropriate education for children with disabilities
  • Conditions rendering attendance impossible or hazardous to the life, health, or safety of the child
  • Child has graduated already
  • Child has completed 8th grade and has a work permit
  • Serious illness or death in family
  • Absent for religious instruction
  • Destitution in the home (although getting public benefits, social services, or private assistance to prevent the child from dropping out will be attempted first)
Homeschooling Provisions To education your child at home, you must meet the board of education homeschooling requirements. First, you must give your school district notice of the intention to home school. Homeschooled children must take a standardized test to check their progress. Services may be offered if progress isn’t acceptable. If the child’s education is suffering or for another compelling reason, the superintendent can seek a court order denying home instruction.

The instructor, parent or hired tutor, must have graduated high school or the equivalent (GED) and provide an outline of the instruction plan for the year.
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance A parent who, after notice their minor child isn’t attending school, fails to have the kid attend will be, for the first offense, fined $50 to $100 and the cost of prosecution. In addition, the parent will have to accompany the student to school. The fine can be suspended if the child attends for 60 days after the conviction.

For a subsequent offense, in addition to the $50-100 fine, the parent may have to attend school with the child throughout the day. The judge could also sentence the parent to 5 to 20 days in jail. Each absent day is a separate offense.
Penalties on Students for Noncompliance Students can have their drivers licenses suspended for failure to attend school (having ten consecutive or fifteen total unexcused absence days in a school year) or failure to keep up their grades or make satisfactory academic progress.

Also, a student 18 or older who is enrolled and fails to attend can be punished the same as a parent as listed above. In addition to the $50 to $100 fine for truancy, the student will have to attend or will be withdrawn from school for the remainder of the year on the third conviction.

Note: State laws are revised frequently. It’s important to verify these state education laws by conducting your own research or contacting an experienced West Virginia education law attorney.

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