Free Public Schools
CHAPTER 27. School Attendance
Subchapter I. School Attendance Requirements
Subject to other provisions of this title, all the public schools of this State shall be free to all children who are residents of the State and who are of the ages required or authorized for attendance in a public school.21 Del. Laws, c. 67, § 22; Code 1915, § 2296; 32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 41; Code 1935, § 2684; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 2701; 59 Del. Laws, c. 87, § 9;
(a) Except as otherwise provided, the following provisions are applicable to school attendance in this State:
(1) Every 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.
(2) 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 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) Every student who is enrolled in a public 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.
(b) For the purposes of this section, a child shall be considered 5 years of age if that child celebrates the child’s fifth birthday according to the following schedule:
|1993-94 school year||Fifth birthday on or before November 30, 1993.|
|1994-95 school year||Fifth birthday on or before October 31, 1994.|
|1995-96 school year||Fifth birthday on or before September 30, 1995.|
|1996-97 school year||Fifth birthday on or before August 31, 1996.|
|Subsequent school years||Fifth birthday on or before August 31 of the respective year.|
Local school authorities may grant exceptions to the above schedule for entry into school if they determine that such exception is in the best interest of the child.
(c) The following provisions shall be applicable to the administration of subsection (a) of this section in regard to compulsory attendance in the kindergarten for a child age 5 years:
(1) If a child is a resident of the State at the time of that child’s eligibility for admission to the kindergarten at age 5, the parents, guardian or legal custodian of that child may request that school authorities evaluate the child’s readiness for attendance and may request a delay of 1 year in that attendance. However, admission to first grade will be authorized only after school authorities evaluate the child’s readiness for attendance.
(2) If a child was not a resident of the State at the time of that child’s eligibility for admission to the kindergarten at age 5, the parents, guardian or legal custodian of that child may request that school authorities evaluate the child’s readiness for attendance and on the basis of that evaluation authorize admission to grade 1.
(3) The parent, guardian, legal custodian or relative care giver, as defined in § 202(f)(2) of this title, of a child who is eligible for admission to kindergarten at age 5 may opt for the child to attend kindergarten for a half-day per day, totaling 440 hours in a school year.
(d) The following provisions shall be applicable in regard to statewide minimum mandatory attendance requirements in each school year for children in grades K through 12.
(1) Following the tenth day of unexcused absence by a student, the school shall immediately notify the parent or parents or guardian and a visiting teacher for the district shall visit the student’s home;
(2) Following the fifteenth day of unexcused absence by a student, the student’s parent or parents or guardian shall be notified by certified mail to appear at the school within 10 days of notification for a conference and counseling;
(3) Following the twentieth day of unexcused absence by a student, the school shall refer the case for prosecution;
(4) Following the completion of prosecution of the case and the subsequent failure of the student to return to school within 5 school days thereof, the school shall immediately notify the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families requesting intervention services by the Department. The Department shall contact the family within 10 business days.
(e) Following the tenth unexcused day of attendance by a student in grades 6 through 12 inclusive, the building principal shall notify a visiting teacher of such unexcused days.
(f) If contacted by the school pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section, each parent or guardian of a student shall sign a contract with the district agreeing they will make every reasonable effort to:
(1) Have their child or children abide by the school code of conduct;
(2) Make certain their child attends school regularly; and
(3) Provide written documentation for the reasons for any absence.
(g) Any day of summer school, any session of after school or Saturday extra instruction, or any session of mentoring which a child is required to attend as an academic improvement activity in conformity with § 153 of this title shall be considered a school day for purposes of this chapter, and for purposes of § 901 of Title 10, § 1100 of Title 11, and § 301 of Title 31 of this Code, or wherever the term school day or its equivalent is used in a provision of this Code designed to minimize or punish truancy.
(h) Every student who is enrolled in a public school of this State in grades 6 through 12 shall be allowed 1 excused absence per school year to attend a civic engagement activity, which includes visiting Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. or Legislative Hall in Dover, visiting a site of significant historical or cultural importance, advocating for or testifying on behalf of legislation, or participating in a rally, march, or protest.
(1) “One excused absence” is defined as 1 partial or full school day. Students may not take more than 1 excused partial day and combine them to consider them to be “1 excused absence.”
(2) For any civic engagement event that occurs on a day when the student’s school is not in session, the student may not redeem or exchange this nonschool day for an excused absence on a school day.
(3) For a student to attend a civic engagement event, the student’s parent or guardian must provide written permission to the school principal or designee no later than 3 school days prior to the student’s planned absence. It is incumbent upon each school to determine what is acceptable as written permission, either a letter or email from the parent or guardian, or a form designed by the school or school district.
(4) The Delaware Department of Education is not responsible for monitoring, tracking, or gathering any information or data regarding students’ excused absences to participate in civic engagement activities.
(i) A child over the age of 16 may withdraw from public school prior to graduation if both of the following circumstances exist:
(1) Where the student is fewer than 18 years of age, written consent is granted by the child’s parent or guardian.
(2) An exit interview is conducted where the student and the student’s parent or legal guardian have been advised that withdrawal from school shall likely reduce the student’s future earning potential and increase the student’s likelihood of being unemployed in the future. During the exit interview, the student who is withdrawing from school shall be given information that has been prepared and supplied by the Department regarding the detrimental impacts and effects of early withdrawal from school, along with any available information about training and employment opportunities. The school and the student and the student’s parent or legal guardian shall also evaluate any available support services, interventions or programs that might assist the student in remaining enrolled until graduation. A school is required to make 3 good faith attempts to contact a student’s parent or legal guardian to schedule an exit interview pursuant to this paragraph.24 Del. Laws, c. 121, § 1; Code 1915, § 2313; 32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 41; Code 1935, § 2685; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 2702; 49 Del. Laws, c. 403, §§ 1-3; 57 Del. Laws, c. 112; 60 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 3; 63 Del. Laws, c. 290, § 2; 64 Del. Laws, c. 315, §§ 6, 7; 69 Del. Laws, c. 28, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 517, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 36, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 399, §§ 3, 4; 72 Del. Laws, c. 6, § 3; 72 Del. Laws, c. 346, §§ 3-5; 73 Del. Laws, c. 341, §§ 1, 2; 74 Del. Laws, c. 175, §§ 2-5; 75 Del. Laws, c. 440, § 6; 78 Del. Laws, c. 290, § 311; 78 Del. Laws, c. 406, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 26, §§ 1, 2; 81 Del. Laws, c. 16, § 1; 83 Del. Laws, c. 77, § 1;
Section 2702 of this title shall not apply to any student enrolled in a private school who is receiving regular and thorough instruction in the subjects prescribed for the public schools of the State in a manner suitable to children of the same age and stage of advancement, provided that such private school is subject to and in compliance with § 2704 of this title. For the purposes of this section, any student who is home-schooled in any manner provided for in § 2703A of this title shall also be exempt from the provisions of § 2702 of this title. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Justice of the Peace Court may retain jurisdiction over any case of truancy filed pursuant to § 2729 (failure to send) of this title or § 2730 (failure to attend) of this title prior to a student withdrawing from the public school bringing the charge and enrolling in a private or nonpublic school of this State.24 Del. Laws, c. 121, § 1; Code 1915, § 2313; 32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 41; Code 1935, § 2685; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 2703; 49 Del. Laws, c. 403, § 4; 57 Del. Laws, c. 113; 63 Del. Laws, c. 290, § 3; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 131; 74 Del. Laws, c. 79, § 2; 76 Del. Laws, c. 23, § 1;
(a) For purposes of this chapter, a “homeschool” is considered a nonpublic school, except that students enrolled in homeschools are deemed to be parentally-placed private school children for purposes of providing equitable services using proportionate share funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et. seq.
(b) The 3 types of homeschools are defined as follows:
(1) “Multi-family homeschool” means the education of children, primarily by the parents or legal guardians of the children mainly in 1 or more residences, or other facilities, when the children are not all related to each other as brother or sister. A person shall act as a liaison to the Department of Education for reporting enrollment and attendance information for all families involved.
(2) “Single-family homeschool” means the education of an individual’s own child, primarily by the parent or legal guardian of the child, mainly in their own residence.
(3) “Single-family homeschool coordinated with the local school district” means the education of a child primarily by the parent or legal guardian of the child, mainly in their own residence, using a curriculum approved by the local superintendent or the local superintendent’s designee. The local superintendent shall determine in writing that the student is or will be provided with regular and thorough instruction by the student’s parent or legal guardian in the subjects prescribed for the public schools of the State and in a manner suitable to children of the same age and stage of advancement.74 Del. Laws, c. 79, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 83 Del. Laws, c. 87, § 1;
(a) All persons conducting nonpublic schools shall report end of the year attendance information to the Department of Education annually, on or before the July 31, on such forms as shall be prescribed by the Department of Education.
(b) Such persons shall also submit annually, no later than October 5, a statement of pupil enrollment as of the last school day in September, on such forms as prescribed by the Department of Education.24 Del. Laws, c. 121, § 1; Code 1915, § 2313; 32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 55; Code 1935, § 2748; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 2704; 58 Del. Laws, c. 494; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 132; 72 Del. Laws, c. 81, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 79, § 3; 80 Del. Laws, c. 27, § 1;
(a) Other provisions of this title notwithstanding, a child may be exempted from § 2702 of this title 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 section 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.24 Del. Laws, c. 121, § 1; Code 1915, § 2313; 32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 41; Code 1935, § 2685; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 2705; 61 Del. Laws, c. 190, § 3; 69 Del. Laws, c. 272, § 1;
Any child affected with diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever or smallpox shall be excluded from the schools until permission of the proper school officer for the child to return is granted; and intercourse between pupils of the schools and the family or house, when there is any case of 1 of these contagious diseases, must be forbidden until the official permission is given to return to the school.17 Del. Laws, c. 68, § 3; Code 1915, § 767; Code 1935, § 773; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 2707; 72 Del. Laws, c. 346, § 7;
(a) A pupil’s absence from school for the observance of a religious holiday is a necessary and excused absence.
(b) A list of religious holidays on which a pupil’s absence shall be excused shall be created by the Secretary of Education and placed in regulation. The list of approved religious holidays is not a limit on the power of school districts or charter schools to excuse absence on any other day for the purpose of religious or cultural observance.
(c) A signed, written excuse from the pupil’s parent or guardian is required in order to excuse an absence under this section.
(d) A pupil of any public school, who is absent by reason of observance of a religious holiday, may not be deprived of any award or eligibility or opportunity to compete for any award.
(e) School districts and charter schools must have a policy discouraging teachers from scheduling major grading events, such as tests, examinations, presentations, or project due dates on religious holidays. A pupil who misses a grading event due to excused absence for observance of a religious holiday must be allowed the opportunity to take an alternate test or given some other means to recover credit.83 Del. Laws, c. 78, § 2;