Who is eligible to attend public schools?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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    Each state is responsible for providing a public education system that offers an education to all children, so all children have the right to a public education. There is no charge for attending a public school and the public school system is open to anyone, although, students may be required to attend a school within the district in which they reside. Further, the Federal Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974 provides that no state can deny equal education opportunities to an individual based on race, gender, or national origin. This means every person has rights to public education, unless his or her conduct violates valid rules and regulations.

    The specific rules for eligibility to attend a public school can vary depending school district. However, there are basic rules or guidelines for enrollment that most districts follow. One is that the student who is registering to attend must be between the ages of 5 (or 4 for pre-kindergarten enrollment) and 21 (18 in some states or districts) in order to be enrolled in any public or state-funded school system. Another is that the enrolled student must not have obtained a high school or equivalency diploma of any kind prior to enrollment. There are often additional district-specific restrictions in many states.

    There are also federal laws allowing you to enroll special needs or physically disabled children in public school as long as there are proper accommodations made for the child prior to the child’s enrollment. There are stipulations to many of these laws, however, so your best bet is to research the eligibility guidelines for the school district that you live in. You can typically find this information at the office of the school superintendent for your school district.

    If you believe your rights to a public education have been violated in any way, you should consult with a lawyer for help and guidance. 

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