SPONSOR:

Rep. Heffernan & Sen. Sokola

 

Reps. Atkins, Bolden, J. Johnson, Q. Johnson, Keeley, Longhurst, Mitchell, Schooley, Scott, B. Short, Walker, D.E. Williams; Sens. Henry, Katz, Sorenson

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

146th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

HOUSE BILL NO. 244

 

 

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SCHOOL ATTENDANCE.

 


BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

 


Section 1. Amend 2702(a), Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making insertions as shown by underlining and deletions as shown by strikethrough as follows:

(a) Except as otherwise provided, the following provisions are applicable to school attendance in this State:

(1) Until December 31, 2012, Eevery person in this State who has legal custody, guardianship of the person, or legal control of a child between 5 and 16 years of age, including any person acting as a caregiver pursuant to the provisions of 202(f) of this title, shall enroll the child in a public school in the school district of the person's residence or in another school district pursuant to the school district enrollment choice program as provided in Chapter 4 of this title or in a charter school established pursuant to Chapter 5 of this title.

(2) Effective January 1, 2013, every person in this State who has legal custody, guardianship of the person, or legal control of a child between 5 and 17 years of age, including any person acting as a caregiver pursuant to the provisions of 202(f) of this title, shall enroll the child in a public school in the school district of the person's residence or in another school district pursuant to the school district enrollment choice program as provided in Chapter 4 of this title or in a charter school established pursuant to Chapter 5 of this title.

(3) Effective January 1, 2014, every person in this State who has legal custody, guardianship of the person, or legal control of a child between 5 and 18 years of age, including any person acting as a caregiver pursuant to the provisions of 202(f) of this title, shall enroll the child in a public school in the school district of the person's residence or in another school district pursuant to the school district enrollment choice program as provided in Chapter 4 of this title or in a charter school established pursuant to Chapter 5 of this title.

(2)(4) Every person who has legal custody, guardianship of the person, or legal control of a student, including any person acting as a caregiver pursuant to the provisions of 202(f) of this title, who is enrolled in a public school or charter school of this State shall send the student to the school each day of the minimum school term and to any academic improvement activities required by 153 of this title.

(3)(5) Every student who is enrolled in a public school or charter school of this State shall attend the school each day of the minimum school term and any academic improvement activities required by 153 of this title. A student who has been absent from school without a valid excuse for more than 3 school days in a school year is a truant. A truant and the parent of a truant are subject to the administrative procedures and court proceedings set out in subchapter II of this Chapter.

Section 2. Amend 2705, Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making insertions as shown by underlining and deletions as shown by strikethrough as follows:

(a) Other provisions of this title notwithstanding, a child may be exempted from 2702 of this title:

(1) Upon graduation from high school.

(2) When the child is at least 16 years of age and is necessarily and lawfully employed according to the provisions of the law regulating child labor, and the child's absence from school is excused by the superintendent of schools of the district in which the child resides after certification of the facts by and recommendation of the board of education of the school district in which the child resides.

(3) If the child obtains a waiver from the superintendent of schools of the district in which the child resides, which waiver shall only be granted upon proof that the child is 16 years of age or older and has an alternative learning plan for obtaining either a high school diploma or its equivalent.

a. Alternative learning plans shall include age-appropriate academic rigor and the flexibility to incorporate the child's interests and manner of learning. These plans may include, but are not limited to, such components or combination of components of extended learning opportunities as independent study, private instruction, performing groups, internships, community service, apprenticeships, and on-line courses.

b. Alternative learning plans shall be developed, and amended if necessary, in consultation with the child, a school guidance counselor, the school principal and at least one parent or guardian of the child, and submitted to the school district superintendent for approval.

c. If the superintendent does not approve the alternative learning plan, the parent or guardian of the child may appeal such decision to the local board of education. A parent or guardian may appeal the decision of the local board of education to the State Board of Education. The decision of the State Board of Education shall be final.

(4) When the child is any age and upon request of the parent, guardian or other person legally having control of that child when the request is supported by written documentation of a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or neurologist, as the case may require. The request and documentation shall be addressed to the superintendent of schools of the district in which the child resides and, in the case of a child with a disability or disabilities, the child's Individual Education Program (IEP) team, for the development of an educational program and determination of whether a change of placement is necessary to ensure that the child receives a free and appropriate public education. (b)Any disputed decision under this sectionparagraph shall be presented first to the board of education of the school district of which the child is a resident and may thereafter be appealed to the State Board of Education. The decision of the State Board of Education shall be final. In the case of a child with a disability or disabilities, all of the federal regulatory due process procedures of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [20 U.S.C. 1411 et seq.] shall apply.


SYNOPSIS

This Act increases the age requirement for compulsory school attendance in Delaware from 16 to 18 years of age. The age increase is phased in over a two-year period; accordingly, there is a one-year interim period where the compulsory school attendance age requirement will be 17 years old.

The Act further provides that a child may be exempt from the age requirement for compulsory school attendance if the child has graduated from high school or if the child is at least 16 years old and is necessarily and lawfully employed. The Act preserves the exemption where a child may be excused from compulsory attendance upon request of the child's parent or legal guardian coupled with supporting written documentation from a qualified health professional.