May 28, 2002

House Bill 1460/Senate Bill 858: Compulsory Attendance Age Expansion

Hilgemann (H.B. 1460); Dougherty (S.B. 858).

House Bill 1460 would have allowed metropolitan school districts to increase the age of compulsory attendance from 16 to 17. This bill would have taken away a parent's right to decide whether or not to continue a child's formal education after reaching age sixteen years of age.

H.B. 1460 was passed by the House of Representatives on April 16 and was referred to the Senate Education Committee where it also was voted to pass. House Bill 1460 was never placed on the calendar for a vote by the full senate and subsequently died in committee as the 2002 session closed May 17. Many thanks to our members for their participation through repeated phone calls and prayer.

Action Requested:
Please call your senator and give them this message:

"Please oppose the compulsory attendance age bills S.B. 858 and H.B. 1460. They are unnecessary, restrict parental choice, and waste taxpayer money."

You do not need to identify yourself as a home schooler. If they ask, answer honestly. If they say, "This doesn't affect home schooling" respond courteously, "Can a high school dropout say he is home schooling in order to avoid compulsory attendance?" The correct answer is "yes." Then point out, "This does affect home schooling. Please oppose H.B. 1460 and S.B. 858."

Call the Missouri Senate at (573) 751-3824 and ask to be connected to your senator.

If you do not know who your senator is, the staff at the above number can assist you, or you can locate them through HSLDA's "Legislative Toolbox" located at: http://www.hslda.org/toolbox.

H.B. 1460 would have partially excluded home schoolers, but this created a "loophole" that would seriously damage the reputation of home schooling families in Missouri. If dropouts can avoid compulsory attendance by saying that they are home schooling, they will do so.

Children are BEST educated when PARENTS have the freedom to make individual choices regarding their children's education. These bills further limit the cherished right of parents to determine what is best for their children. When parental freedoms are respected, some parents will choose to continue educating their children beyond the age of compulsory attendance. Others, including those with children who have excelled academically as many home schoolers do, will cease education when the child reaches the age of compulsory attendance. This decision, however, must remain the prerogative of the parent, not the state. Raising the compulsory attendance age limits parental choice regarding the education of their children, thereby diminishing the effectiveness of education.

Had this bill been enacted, the compulsory attendance age would be fragmented across the state. This would be especially problematic for families who move from one school district to another. If a family with a 16-year-old graduate moves from a district with a compulsory age of 16, to a district with a compulsory age of 17, they would be required to continue the formal education of this student because of the higher compulsory age in the new district. A family would no longer know for certain what the compulsory attendance age is in the district they live in unless they contact the school district. Fracturing the compulsory attendance age would also cause confusion regarding employment of 16-year-olds.

Beyond the infringement upon parental rights, this bill also proposed a dangerous precedent for making substantive changes to the law. It is improper to delegate authority to a school district to restrict parental choice regarding the education of their children. Changes to the compulsory attendance law should be made by the legislature, and not be left to the whim of the local school district.

HSLDA's Position:
Actively opposed.

 Other Resources

Families for Home Education Alert on H.B. 1460

4/10/2002 Missouri--Parental Freedom in Jeopardy, Calls Needed Today

3/28/2002 Missouri--Calls and Visits Needed on H.B. 1460 and S.B. 858

H.B. 1460 Bill Text & History

S.B. 858 Bill Text & History