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Monday, November 9, 2015

Kentucky Compulsory School Attendance

By Steve Franzen, Campbell County Attorney 

With the new school year well under well, I thought it may be helpful to discuss the issue of compulsory school attendance.

Under Kentucky Law, every child between the age of six (6) and sixteen (16) is required to be enrolled and attend a public or private school unless their physical or mental condition prevents or renders inadvisable attendance at school or application to study.  An exemption is also granted to someone under sixteen (16) who has already graduated from high school.  However, a local board of education may adopt a district wide policy to change the age from sixteen (16) years old to eighteen (18) years old.

Typically, a child between the ages of sixteen (16) and eighteen (18) is permitted to drop out of school only with written permission from a parent or guardian and after a conference and counseling with school officials.  Any person over the age of eighteen (18) who has not completed high school can drop out without written permission of a parent or guardian.

Under Kentucky Law, a parent, guardian or custodian of a child is legally responsible for any violation by the child of the Compulsory School Attendance Laws.  Under Kentucky Law, a parent, guardian or other custodian is required to see that their children comply with Kentucky’s Compulsory Attendance Laws and any parent, guardian or custodian who intentionally fails to comply with such laws can be fined up to $100.00 for a first offense, up to $250.00 for a second offense, and up to ninety (90) days in jail, and up to a $250.00 fine for a third offense.  We often have cases in the Campbell District Court where the children are charged with being habitual truants and the parents are charged with failing to make their children go to school.  Fortunately, our local District and Family Court Judges take these cases very seriously.  It is rare that a parent can come up with a good enough excuse to avoid fines or jail time for not making sure that their children attend school.

Under Kentucky Law, any child who has been absent from school without a valid excuse for three (3) or more days or tardy without a valid excuse for three (3) or more days is considered a truant.  Any child who has been reported as a truant two (2) or more times is considered a habitual truant.

Unless in a school district that mandates compulsory attendance until age eighteen (18), a sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) year old who drops out of school or is declared to be academically deficient due to poor grades, will be reported to the Kentucky Department of Transportation to have their driver’s license revoked.  This provision is to discourage students from dropping out of school.  Frequently, when students discover this consequence, they change their mind about quitting school.

I hope this information is interesting and helpful.  If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.

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