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January 7, 2010

Compulsory Attendance Age Expanded

On January 4, 2010, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed into law House Bill 4787 which raises the Michigan compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18. This change affects each child who turns age 11 on or after December 1, 2009, or a child who was age 11 before that date and enters grade 6 in 2009 or later.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to this cloud of expanded state control over education. This increase in the compulsory attendance age will not apply to a child who is at least age 16 and whose parent or legal guardian has provided the local public school district with written notice that the child has permission to stop attending school. Additionally, the new law does not affect a child who turned age 11 before December 1, 2009, or who entered grade 6 before 2009.

Even though the new law contains the opt-out provision for families who do not wish to be subject to the compulsory attendance law beyond the age of 16, Home School Legal Defense Association opposed this legislation as an incremental encroachment into the right of parents to direct the education of their children. Our concern was that the next legislative action affecting compulsory attendance may be to remove the option of parents to permit their 16-year-old children to withdraw from school and pursue other interests.