Substitute House Bill No. 5276

Public Act No. 00-157

An Act Concerning The Mandatory School Attendance Age.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 10-184 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments. Subject to the provisions of this section and section 10-15c, each parent or other person having control of a child five years of age and over and under [sixteen] eighteen years of age shall cause such child to attend a public school regularly during the hours and terms the public school in the district in which such child resides is in session, unless such child is a high school graduate or the parent or person having control of such child is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools. The parent or person having control of a child sixteen or seventeen years of age may consent, as provided in this section, to such child's withdrawal from school. Such parent or person shall personally appear at the school district office and sign a withdrawal form. The school district shall provide such parent or person with information on the educational options available in the school system and in the community. The parent or person having control of a child five years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is six years of age and the parent or person having control of a child six years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is seven years of age. The parent or person shall exercise such option by personally appearing at the school district office and signing an option form. The school district shall provide the parent or person with information on the educational opportunities available in the school system.

Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 10-5 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The Commissioner of Education shall, in accordance with this section, issue a state high school diploma to any person (1) who successfully completes an examination approved by the commissioner or (2) who (A) is sixteen or seventeen years of age [or older] and has been officially withdrawn from school in accordance with the provisions of section 10-184, as amended by this act, or is eighteen years of age or older and (B) presents to the commissioner evidence demonstrating educational qualifications which the commissioner deems equivalent to those required for graduation from a public high school. Application for such a diploma shall be made in the manner and form prescribed by the commissioner provided at the time of application to take the examination described in subdivision (1) of this subsection the applicant is seventeen years of age or older, has been officially withdrawn from school, in accordance with section 10-184, as amended by this act, for at least six months and has been advised, in such manner as may be prescribed by the commissioner, of the other options for high school completion and other available educational programs. For good cause shown, the commissioner may allow a person who is sixteen years of age to apply to take the examination, provided the commissioner may not issue a state high school diploma to such person until the person has attained seventeen years of age.

Sec. 3. Subsection (a) of section 10-220 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Each local or regional board of education shall maintain good public elementary and secondary schools, implement the educational interests of the state as defined in section 10-4a and provide such other educational activities as in its judgment will best serve the interests of the school district; provided any board of education may secure such opportunities in another school district in accordance with provisions of the general statutes and shall give all the children of the school district as nearly equal advantages as may be practicable; shall provide an appropriate learning environment for its students which includes (1) adequate instructional books, supplies, materials, equipment, staffing, facilities and technology, (2) equitable allocation of resources among its schools, and (3) a safe school setting; shall have charge of the schools of its respective school district; shall make a continuing study of the need for school facilities and of a long-term school building program and from time to time make recommendations based on such study to the town; shall report annually to the Commissioner of Education on the condition of its facilities and the action taken to implement its long-term school building program, which report the commissioner shall use to prepare an annual report that he shall submit in accordance with section 11-4a to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education; shall advise the Commissioner of Education of the relationship between any individual school building project pursuant to chapter 173 and such long-term school building program; shall have the care, maintenance and operation of buildings, lands, apparatus and other property used for school purposes and at all times shall insure all such buildings and all capital equipment contained therein against loss in an amount not less than eighty per cent of replacement cost; shall determine the number, age and qualifications of the pupils to be admitted into each school; shall develop and implement a written plan for minority staff recruitment for purposes of subdivision (3) of section 10-4a; shall employ and dismiss the teachers of the schools of such district subject to the provisions of sections 10-151 and 10-158a; shall designate the schools which shall be attended by the various children within the school district; shall make such provisions as will enable each child of school age, residing in the district to attend some public day school for the period required by law and provide for the transportation of children wherever transportation is reasonable and desirable, and for such purpose may make contracts covering periods of not more than five years; may place in an alternative school program or other suitable educational program a pupil enrolling in school who is nineteen years of age or older and cannot acquire a sufficient number of credits for graduation by age twenty-one; may arrange with the board of education of an adjacent town for the instruction therein of such children as can attend school in such adjacent town more conveniently; shall cause each child five years of age and over and under [sixteen] eighteen years of age who is not a high school graduate and is living in the school district to attend school in accordance with the provisions of section 10-184, as amended by this act, and shall perform all acts required of it by the town or necessary to carry into effect the powers and duties imposed by law.

Sec. 4. Subsection (d) of section 10-233d of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of section 10-220, as amended by this act, local and regional boards of education shall only be required to offer an alternative educational opportunity in accordance with this section. Any pupil under sixteen years of age who is expelled shall be offered an alternative educational opportunity during the period of expulsion, provided any parent or guardian of such pupil who does not choose to have his or her child enrolled in an alternative program shall not be subject to the provisions of section 10-184. Any pupil expelled for the first time who is between the ages of sixteen and eighteen and who wishes to continue his or her education shall be offered an alternative educational opportunity if he or she complies with conditions established by his or her local or regional board of education. Such alternative may include, but shall not be limited to, the placement of a pupil who is at least sixteen years of age in an adult education program pursuant to section 10-69. A local or regional board of education shall count the expulsion of a pupil when he was under sixteen years of age for purposes of determining whether an alternative educational opportunity is required for such pupil when he is between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. A local or regional board of education may offer an alternative educational opportunity to a pupil for whom such alternative educational opportunity is not required pursuant to this section.

Sec. 5. Subsection (a) of section 10-198a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) For purposes of this section, "truant" means a child age five to [sixteen] eighteen, inclusive, who is enrolled in a public or private school and has four unexcused absences from school in any one month or ten unexcused absences from school in any school year.

Sec. 6. Section 10-200 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

Each city and town may adopt ordinances concerning habitual truants from school and children between the ages of five and [sixteen] eighteen years wandering about its streets or public places, having no lawful occupation and not attending school; and may make such ordinances respecting such children as shall conduce to their welfare and to public order, imposing penalties, not exceeding twenty dollars, for any one breach thereof. The police in any town, city or borough and bailiffs, constables, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs in their respective precincts shall arrest all such children found anywhere beyond the proper control of their parents or guardians, during the usual school hours of the school terms, and may stop any child under [sixteen] eighteen years of age during such hours and ascertain whether such child is a truant from school, and, if such child is, shall send such child to school. For purposes of this section, "habitual truant" means a child age five to [sixteen] eighteen, inclusive, enrolled in a public or private school who has twenty unexcused absences within a school year.

Sec. 7. Subdivision (5) of section 45a-604 of the general statutes, as amended by section 4 of public act 99-84, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(5) "Guardianship" means guardianship of the person of a minor, and includes: (A) The obligation of care and control; and (B) the authority to make major decisions affecting the minor's education and welfare, including, but not limited to, consent determinations regarding marriage, enlistment in the armed forces and major medical, psychiatric or surgical treatment.

Sec. 8. This act shall take effect July 1, 2001.

Approved May 26, 2000