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The Florida Senate

2005 Florida Statutes

Section 1003.21, Florida Statutes 2005

1003.21  School attendance.--

(1)(a)1.  All children who have attained the age of 6 years or who will have attained the age of 6 years by February 1 of any school year or who are older than 6 years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years, except as otherwise provided, are required to attend school regularly during the entire school term.

2.  Children who will have attained the age of 5 years on or before September 1 of the school year are eligible for admission to public kindergartens during that school year under rules adopted by the district school board.

(b)  Any child who has attained the age of 6 years on or before September 1 of the school year and who has been enrolled in a public school or who has attained the age of 6 years on or before September 1 and has satisfactorily completed the requirements for kindergarten in a private school from which the district school board accepts transfer of academic credit, or who otherwise meets the criteria for admission or transfer in a manner similar to that applicable to other grades, shall progress according to the district's student progression plan. However, nothing in this section shall authorize the state or any school district to oversee or exercise control over the curricula or academic programs of private schools or home education programs.

(c)  A student who attains the age of 16 years during the school year is not subject to compulsory school attendance beyond the date upon which he or she attains that age if the student files a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment with the district school board. The declaration must acknowledge that terminating school enrollment is likely to reduce the student's earning potential and must be signed by the student and the student's parent. The school district must notify the student's parent of receipt of the student's declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment.

(d)  Students who become or have become married and students who are pregnant shall not be prohibited from attending school. These students and students who are parents shall receive the same educational instruction or its equivalent as other students, but may voluntarily be assigned to a class or program suited to their special needs. Consistent with s. 1003.54, pregnant or parenting teens may participate in a teenage parent program. Pregnant students may attend alternative education programs or adult education programs, provided that the curriculum allows the student to continue to work toward a high school diploma.

(e)  Consistent with rules adopted by the State Board of Education, children with disabilities who have attained the age of 3 years shall be eligible for admission to public special education programs and for related services under rules adopted by the district school board. Exceptional children who are deaf or hard of hearing, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, severely physically handicapped, trainable mentally handicapped, or profoundly handicapped, or who have established conditions, or exhibit developmental delays, below age 3 may be eligible for special programs; or, if enrolled in other school readiness programs, they may be eligible for supplemental instruction. Rules for the identification of established conditions for children birth through 2 years of age and developmental delays for children birth through 5 years of age must be adopted by the State Board of Education.

(f)  Homeless children, as defined in s. 1003.01, must have access to a free public education and must be admitted to school in the school district in which they or their families live. School districts shall assist homeless children to meet the requirements of subsection (4) and s. 1003.22, as well as local requirements for documentation.

(2)(a)  The State Board of Education may adopt rules under which students not meeting the entrance age may be transferred from another state if their parents have been legal residents of that state.

(b)  Each district school board, in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education, shall adopt a policy that authorizes a parent to request and be granted permission for absence of a student from school for religious instruction or religious holidays.

(3)  The district school superintendent may authorize certificates of exemptions from school attendance requirements in certain situations. Students within the compulsory attendance age limits who hold valid certificates of exemption that have been issued by the superintendent shall be exempt from attending school. A certificate of exemption shall cease to be valid at the end of the school year in which it is issued.

(4)  Before admitting a child to kindergarten, the principal shall require evidence that the child has attained the age at which he or she should be admitted in accordance with the provisions of subparagraph (1)(a)2. The district school superintendent may require evidence of the age of any child whom he or she believes to be within the limits of compulsory attendance as provided for by law. If the first prescribed evidence is not available, the next evidence obtainable in the order set forth below shall be accepted:

(a)  A duly attested transcript of the child's birth record filed according to law with a public officer charged with the duty of recording births;

(b)  A duly attested transcript of a certificate of baptism showing the date of birth and place of baptism of the child, accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the parent;

(c)  An insurance policy on the child's life that has been in force for at least 2 years;

(d)  A bona fide contemporary religious record of the child's birth accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the parent;

(e)  A passport or certificate of arrival in the United States showing the age of the child;

(f)  A transcript of record of age shown in the child's school record of at least 4 years prior to application, stating date of birth; or

(g)  If none of these evidences can be produced, an affidavit of age sworn to by the parent, accompanied by a certificate of age signed by a public health officer or by a public school physician, or, if neither of these is available in the county, by a licensed practicing physician designated by the district school board, which certificate states that the health officer or physician has examined the child and believes that the age as stated in the affidavit is substantially correct. A homeless child, as defined in s. 1003.01, shall be given temporary exemption from this section for 30 school days.

History.--s. 116, ch. 2002-387.