Categories :: Education

Who must attend school?

Maryland law requires that all children between the ages of 5 and 18, who live in Maryland, attend school.


  • Every child must attend kindergarten before entering the first grade. A child may be excused from kindergarten if attending a full time licensed child care center, a full time registered family day care home, or a Head Start five year old program part time.
  • Kindergarten may be delayed for 1 year if the child’s parent or guardian files a written request with the local school system asking for a delay due to the child’s level of maturity.

Mental, Emotional, or Physical Handicap: A child who has a mental, emotional, or physical handicap must attend school unless the child's condition makes attending school harmful to the child’s development or if the child may cause serious physical harm to others.  School officials, with the written recommendation of a licensed doctor or psychologist, may provide other free education or permit the child to be withdrawn from school as long as the above conditions exist.  If a child is withdrawn from school, the county board must make provisions for the education of the child.

Children Under 18: 

Every child under 18 years of age must attend school unless the child:

  • has a high school diploma or GED;
  • has a disability and has completed requirements for a Maryland high school certificate of completion;
  • is receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age (homeschool, nonpublic school);
  • has completed receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age;
  • is severely ill and requires home or hospital instruction;
  • is married;
  • is in military service;
  • is committed by court order to an institution without an educational program;
  • provides financial support to the child’s family as documented by a local department of social services;
  • has been expelled
  • is pregnant or a parent and is enrolled in an alternative educational program;
  • attends an alternative educational program;
  • attends a public school on a part–time basis and attends a private career school, with guardian and school official consent; or
  • received a waiver by the State Superintendent.

Read the law: Md. Code, Education § 7-301

What will happen if I don’t send my child to school?

Whoever has custody or "care and control" of the child is responsible for seeing that the child attends school. If they do not, they could be fined or jailed.  School officials may excuse lawful absences.

What is a lawful absence?

  • Death in the immediate family: The local school system shall determine what relationships constitute the immediate family.
  • Illness of the student: The principal or a pupil personnel worker shall require a physician's certificate from the parent or guardians of a student reported continuously absent for illness.
  • Court summons.
  • Hazardous weather conditions: Weather conditions that would endanger the health or safety of the student when in transit to and from school.
  • Work: Must be approved or sponsored by the school, the local school system, or the State Department of Education, accepted by school officials as reason for excusing the student.
  • Observance of a religious holiday.
  • State emergency.
  • Suspension.
  • Lack of authorized transportation: This does not include students denied authorized transportation for disciplinary reasons.
  • Other emergency or set of circumstances which, in the judgment of the superintendent or designee, constitutes a good and sufficient cause for absence from school.

Read the regulation: COMAR 13A.08.01.03

How long does my student need to go to school each year?

Schools are required by law to be open for at least three hours each school day, for at least 180 days school days, and for at least 1,080 school hours during a 10-month period in each school year. 

Read the law: Md. Code, Education § 7-103

Source:, Edited by Ashley Worth, Esq.

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Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland State Law Library, 2017.”

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