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Child Education Law

The United States public education system supports the compulsory child education law in the U.S. While the ages for compulsory education vary from state to state, it generally begins between ages 5 and 8 and ends by 14 to 18. Students completing high school may apply to colleges and universities, which may also be either public or private institutions. Situations may arise, especially in cases in which the parents of a child in this age range are separating or the guardianship is changing, leading to doubts about the law regarding child education. Below are some of the top questions in the subject answered by legal experts.

What is the penalty for not sending a child to school?

Failing to provide education, which is compulsory for children and can be provided either through school or a home-school program, will be viewed as neglect of the best interests of the child. This could potentially lead to the child being placed in foster care by child protection services.

In cases in which parents are separated, a non-custodial parent may file for custodial modification if the custodial parent is found negligent. By filing a show cause motion, he/she may seek an order that the child be enrolled in a school. Of course, this would have to be followed by evidence that the child is not being educated.

We have joint legal custody of our daughter, but my ex does not inform me about educational decisions taken on her behalf. Is it contempt of court?

Having joint legal custody allows you to gather any information you require directly from the school, whether this information is regarding syllabus or details of any programs offered. Joint legal custody also gives you the right to be informed about any major decision taken on behalf of your child. However, it does not mean you need to be informed about everything that happens, or given a day-to-day report. Generally, such decisions and information may include medical and educational information as to which school or day care the child is enrolled in, and may at times include report cards and parent-teacher meetings, etc. Unless the child is enrolled in a controversial program, your ex is not expected to report it to you.

What is the legal recourse against a custodial parent violating the choice of school for the child?

If you fail to amicably reach a consensus on the choice of school for your child, you may have to approach the court over the issues. You may seek a valid reason for not enrolling the child in the school you agreed on earlier. If you have reason to believe your ex is deliberately not cooperating, you may raise the issue in court.

Is there such a thing as post-secondary education support? Do I have to continue paying after the child is 18 years old?

If your child is 18 years old or has graduated, whichever is later, you will typically no longer have child support obligations. However, you may need to review the original court order to determine if the child support extends to post-secondary education. Also, existing case laws or statutes do not hold parents to a duty of college support in the absence of an agreement. In any case, you will have to go by the original child support agreement.

What is the procedure for granting "educational guardianship" of my child to a relative residing in another state?

Generally, the residency requirements of school districts make it compulsory for the child to live in the district. You may therefore have to grant guardianship of your child to your relative. For this, you may approach the local clerk of the court’s office to obtain the guardianship form, which you would then submit to transfer guardianship to your relative. This will also allow the relative to make decisions regarding the child’s education.

What are the educational rights granted to a disabled child?

The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) stipulates that a child with a physical disability must be provided with the means to continue his/her education. If the school refuses to oblige, you may send a written complaint to the school board. If such a request is denied by the school board, you may contact a local education attorney to file a suit for discrimination and failure to provide reasonable accommodation for continuing the child’s education.

Most parents have the choice of sending their kids to private or public education, where the latter is subsidized making it more affordable. Some parents also choose to home-school their children for religious reasons or because they prefer a non-standard approach to teaching. However, since the law makes schooling compulsory for children, parents do have the obligation to provide them with an education. If you wish to know more about the law regarding child education, may wish to seek the the counsel of a legal expert.
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