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Your child's school attendance: What happens after 16?

You want to make sure your child goes to school, but there may be cases in which your child needs to be removed from school completely. Maybe your child has a major job opportunity or is taking a private vocational program; perhaps you need help around your farm or business, so your child needs no further education. When can your child be excused from school for good without causing you to face charges for assisting in your child's truancy?

Children between the ages of 6 (as of Feb. 1 of any school year) and 15 must attend school regularly throughout the year. If a child turns 16 during the school year, that child is allowed to file a formal declaration of the intent to terminate school enrollment. That paperwork allows the child to stop attending school without violating compulsory attendance laws.

When a child reaches 16, terminating enrollment is possible only if the parents or guardians of that child agree. The declaration needs to be signed by a parent, who needs to acknowledge that leaving school early can reduce a child's earning potential in the future. The district is also required to notify parents and guardians if a child decides to leave school.

If your child is not of age and misses 15 or more days of school within 90 days without being excused, then your child will be known as habitually truant. You can face charges or fines for failing to make sure your child attends school if he or she is not over the legal age and has not left school legally.

Source: Florida Department of Education, "Attendance and Enrollment," accessed July 21, 2016

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