Senator SANDRA B. CUNNINGHAM
District 31 (Hudson)
Raises age requirement of compulsory school attendance from 16 to 18 years old.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning compulsory education and amending various sections of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S.18A:38-25 is amended to read as follows:
18A:38-25. Every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between the ages of six and  17 years, if the child has not graduated from high school, shall cause such child regularly to attend the public schools of the district or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.
2. N.J.S.18A:38-27 is amended to read as follows:
18A:38-27. Any child [between the ages of six and 16 years] required to attend school pursuant to N.J.S.18A:38-25 who shall repeatedly be absent from school, and any child of such age found away from school during school hours whose parent, guardian or other person having charge and control of the child is unable to cause him to attend school and any pupil who is incorrigible, actually vagrant, vicious, or immoral in conduct, shall be deemed to be a juvenile delinquent and shall be proceeded against as such.
3. N.J.S.18A:38-28 is amended to read as follows:
18A:38-28. Any attendance officer who shall find any child [between six and 16 years of age] required to attend school pursuant to N.J.S.18A:38-25 who is a truant from school, shall take the child and deliver him to the parent, guardian or other person having charge and control of the child, or to the teacher of the school which such child is lawfully required to attend.
4. N.J.S.18A:38-31 is amended to read as follows:
18A:38-31. A parent, guardian
or other person having charge and control of a child [between
the ages of six and 16 years] required to
attend school pursuant to N.J.S.18A:38-25, who shall fail to comply with
any of the provisions of this article relating to his duties, shall be deemed
to be a disorderly person and shall be subject to a fine of not more than
$25.00 for a first offense and not
more than $100.00 for each subsequent offense, in the discretion of the court.
In any such proceeding, the summons issuing therein, or in special circumstances a warrant, shall be directed to the alleged disorderly person and the child.
(cf: P.L.1980, c.153, s.1)
5. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill increases the age requirement for compulsory school attendance in the State of New Jersey from 16 to 18 years of age.
Under the provisions of the bill, children between the age of six and 18 are required to regularly attend school, unless they have graduated from high school. The bill stipulates that students who graduate prior to their eighteenth birthday are specifically exempt from this requirement.
Under current law, the State’s school-aged children must regularly attend school until the age of 16. The requirement for mandatory attendance until this age was established in 1914, with an exception permitting children over 14 years of age who were “regularly and lawfully employed in some useful occupation” to leave school. This exception was eliminated under P.L.1940, c.154, but the 16 year old age requirement for compulsory attendance has remained unchanged.
Since then, societal changes and the demands of the modern job market have emphasized the need for a well-rounded, thorough education. Individuals who stop attending school at age 16 often lack the skills and preparation necessary to successfully compete in the workforce and play an active role in society. Requiring students to attend school until the age of 18 will help ensure that students receive an adequate education and are sufficiently prepared to compete in the labor market and participate as an active member of society.