March 5, 2008

Truant Officer Targets 5-Year-Old

During the spring semester of the 2007-2008 school year, a Home School Legal Defense Association member family in Hot Springs received a visit from the local truant officer questioning why their 5-year-old child was not in school. The father of the child responded that he did not believe his son was yet subject to the compulsory attendance requirements. During the course of the discussion, the father telephoned HSLDA and spoke with Senior Counsel Dewitt Black seeking support for his position. Unfortunately, in this case, the father was not aware that the son was subject to the compulsory attendance requirements unless a kindergarten waiver form had been filed with the local school district. Black spoke with the truant officer and assured him that the father would file the required waiver so that the child would be excused from school attendance.

Arkansas law requires school attendance for children ages 5-17 on or before September 15 of that year, but the law also permits a parent to elect for a child not to attend kindergarten if the child will not be 6 years old by September 15 of that particular school year. If such an election is made, the parent must file a signed kindergarten waiver form with the local school district administrative office. Once the waiver is filed, the child is not required to attend kindergarten in that school year and is excused from any school attendance.

Many homeschooling parents in Arkansas use the waiver provisions of the law to delay having to commence a formal homeschool education for their 5-year-old child. Once the waiver period is over, they begin homeschooling by filing a notice of intent with the local public school superintendent. HSLDA member families having questions about what procedure to follow should contact us for assistance.