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Selected New York State Education Laws



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Parents in New York are governed by the state's education laws. These laws cover such things as the ages during which a child is required to attend instruction, how much instruction is required, and what subjects must be taught. Here are some sections of state education law that are relevant to home educators.

Please note that this page contains only selected portions of education law. To see all of New York State's laws, including all of the education laws, please visit the state's Laws of New York page.


Table of Contents

Article 65, Part 1: Compulsory education
     Section 3204: Instruction required
     Section 3205: Attendance of minors upon full time day instruction
     Section 3210: Amount and character of required attendance
     Section 3211: Records of attendance upon instruction
     Section 3212: Definition of persons in parental relation and their duties; duties of certain other persons

Article 17: Instruction in certain subjects
     Section 801: Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents
     Section 804: Health education regarding alcohol, drugs,tobacco abuse and the prevention and detection of certain cancers
     Section 806: Courses of instruction in highway safety and traffic regulation; school safety patrols
     Section 808: Instruction in fire and arson prevention

Article 65, Part 2: School census
     Section 3240: School census in the cities of New York, Buffalo and Rochester
     Section 3241: School census in cities, except in cities having a population of one hundred twenty-five thousand or more
     Section 3242: School census in school districts
     Section 3243: Penalty for withholding information


Article 65, Part 1: Compulsory Education


Section 3204: Instruction required

1. Place of instruction.
A minor required to attend upon instruction by the provisions of part one of this article may attend at a public school or elsewhere. The requirements of this section shall apply to such a minor, irrespective of the place of instruction.

2. Quality and language of instruction; text-books.
Instruction may be given only by a competent teacher. In the teaching of the subjects of instruction prescribed by this section, English shall be the language of instruction, and text-books used shall be written in English, except that for a period of three years, which period may be extended by the commissioner with respect to individual pupils, upon application therefor by the appropriate school authorities, to a period not in excess of six years, from the date of enrollment in school, pupils who, by reason of foreign birth or ancestry have limited English proficiency, shall be provided with instructional programs as specified in subdivision two-a of this section and the regulations of the commissioner. The purpose of providing such pupils with instruction shall be to enable them to develop academically while achieving competence in the English language. Instruction given to a minor elsewhere than at a public school shall be at least substantially equivalent to the instruction given to minors of like age and attainments at the public schools of the city or district where the minor resides.
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3. Courses of study.
a. (1) The course of study for the first eight years of full time public day schools shall provide for instruction in at least the twelve common school branches of arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing, the English language, geography, United States history, civics, hygiene, physical training, the history of New York state and science.
(2) The courses of study and of specialized training beyond the first eight years of full time public day schools shall provide for instruction in at least the English language and its use, in civics, hygiene, physical training, and American history including the principles of government proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and established by the constitution of the United States.
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Section 3205: Attendance of minors upon full time day instruction

1. a. In each school district of the state, each minor from six to sixteen years of age shall attend upon full time instruction.
b. Each minor from six to sixteen years of age on an Indian reservation shall attend upon full time day instruction.
c. For purposes of this article, a minor who becomes six years of age on or before the first of December in any school year shall be required to attend upon full time instruction from the first day that the appropriate public schools are in session in September of such school year, and a minor who becomes six years of age after the first of December in any school year shall be required to attend upon full time instruction from the first day of session in the following September; and, except as otherwise provided in subdivision three of this section, shall be required to remain in attendance until the last day of session in the school year in which the minor becomes sixteen years of age.

2. Exceptions.
a. A minor who has completed a four-year high school course of study shall not be subject to the provisions of part one of this article in respect to required attendance upon instruction.
b. A minor for whom application for a full-time employment certificate has been made and who is eligible therefor may, though unemployed, be permitted to attend part time school not less than twenty hours per week instead of full time school.
c. The board of education of the Syracuse city school district and the board of education of the city school district of the city of New York and the board of education of the city school district of the city of Rochester are hereby authorized to require minors who are five years of age on or before December first to attend kindergarten instruction. However, the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to:
     (i) Minors whose parents elect not to enroll their children in school until the following September.
     (ii) Students enrolled in non-public schools or in home instruction.

3. In each school district, the board of education shall have power to require minors from sixteen to seventeen years of age who are not employed to attend upon full time day instruction until the last day of session in the school year in which the student becomes seventeen years of age.


Section 3210: Amount and character of required attendance

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2. Attendance elsewhere than at a public school.
a. Hours of attendance.
If a minor included by the provisions of part one of this article attends upon instruction elsewhere than at a public school, he shall attend for at least as many hours, and within the hours specified therefor.
b. Absence.
Absence from required attendance shall be permitted only for causes allowed by the general rules and practices of the public schools. Absence for religious observance and education shall be permitted under rules that the commissioner shall establish.
c. Holidays and vacations.
Holidays and vacations shall not exceed in total amount and number those allowed by the public schools.
d. Exception.
In applying the foregoing requirements a minor required to attend upon full time day instruction by the provisions of part one of this article may be permitted to attend for a shorter school day or for a shorter school year or for both, provided, in accordance with the regulations of the state education department, the instruction he receives has been approved by the school authorities as being substantially equivalent in amount and quality to that required by the provisions of part one of this article.


Section 3211: Records of attendance upon instruction

1. Who shall keep such record.
The teacher of every minor required by the provisions of part one of this article to attend upon instruction, or any other school district employee as may be designated by the commissioner of education under section three thousand twenty-four of this chapter, shall keep an accurate record of the attendance and absence of such minor. Such record shall be in such form as may be prescribed by the commissioner of education.

2. Certificates of attendance to be presumptive evidence.
A duly certified transcript of the record of attendance and absence of a child which has been kept, as provided in this section, shall be accepted as presumptive evidence of the attendance of such child in any proceeding brought under the provisions of part one of this article.

3. Inspection of records of attendance.
An attendance officer, or any other duly authorized representative of the school authorities, may at any time during school hours, demand the production of the records of attendance of minors required to be kept by the provisions of part one of this article, and may inspect or copy the same and make all proper inquiries of a teacher or principal concerning the records and the attendance of such minors.

4. Duties of principal or person in charge of the instruction of a minor.
The principal of a school, or other person in charge of the instruction upon which a minor attends, as provided by part one of this article, shall cause the record of his attendance to be kept and produced and all appropriate inquiries in relation thereto answered as hereinbefore required. He shall give prompt notification in writing to the school authorities of the city or district of the discharge or transfer of any such minor from attendance upon instruction, stating the date of the discharge, its cause, the name of the minor, his date of birth, his place of residence prior to and following discharge, if such place of residence be known, and the name of the person in parental relation to the minor.


Section 3212: Definition of persons in parental relation and their duties; duties of certain other persons

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2. Duties of persons in parental relation.
Every person in parental relation to another individual included by the provisions of part one of this article:
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b. Shall cause such individual to attend upon instruction as hereinbefore required, and to comply with the provisions of part one of this article with respect to the employment or occupation of minors in any business or service whatever.
c. Shall cause such individual to be placed in proper physical condition to attend upon required instruction, if his physical condition is remediable by the taking of reasonable measures.
d. Shall furnish proof that an individual who is not attending upon instruction at a public or parochial school in the city or district where the person in parental relation resides is attending upon required instruction elsewhere. Failure to furnish such proof shall be presumptive evidence that such individual is not attending.
e. Shall furnish, with respect to an individual from seventeen to twenty-one years of age, on demand of a duly authorized representative of the school authorities, satisfactory proof that he is able to speak, read and write English as required for the completion of the fifth year of the elementary school course of study, or cause such individual to submit to an examination to determine his ability in these respects.
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Article 17: Instruction in Certain Subjects


Section 801: Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents

1. In order to promote a spirit of patriotic and civic service and obligation and to foster in the children of the state moral and intellectual qualities which are essential in preparing to meet the obligations of citizenship in peace or in war, the regents of The University of the State of New York shall prescribe courses of instruction in patriotism, citizenship, and human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery (including the freedom trail and underground railroad), the Holocaust, and the mass starvation in Ireland from 1845 to 1850, to be maintained and followed in all the schools of the state. The boards of education and trustees of the several cities and school districts of the state shall require instruction to be given in such courses, by the teachers employed in the schools therein. All pupils attending such schools, over the age of eight years, shall attend upon such instruction.
Similar courses of instruction shall be prescribed and maintained in private schools in the state, and all pupils in such schools over eight years of age shall attend upon such courses. If such courses are not so established and maintained in a private school, attendance upon instruction in such school shall not be deemed substantially equivalent to instruction given to pupils of like age in the public schools of the city or district in which such pupils reside.

2. The regents shall prescribe courses of instruction in the history, meaning, significance and effect of the provisions of the constitution of the United States, the amendments thereto, the declaration of independence, the constitution of the state of New York and the amendments thereto, to be maintained and followed in all of the schools of the state. The boards of education and trustees of the several cities and school districts of the state shall require instruction to be given in such courses, by the teachers employed in the schools therein. All pupils attending such schools, in the eighth and higher grades, shall attend upon such instruction.
Similar courses of instruction shall be prescribed and maintained in private schools in the state, and all pupils in such schools in grades or classes corresponding to the instruction in the eighth and higher grades of the public schools shall attend upon such courses. If such courses are not so established and maintained in a private school, attendance upon instruction in such school shall not be deemed substantially equivalent to instruction given to pupils in the public schools of the city or district in which such pupils reside.
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Section 804: Health education regarding alcohol, drugs, tobacco abuse and the prevention and detection of certain cancers

1. All schools shall include, as an integral part of health education, instruction so as to discourage the misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs and promote attitudes and behavior that enhance health, well being, and human dignity.
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Section 806: Courses of instruction in highway safety and traffic regulation; school safety patrols

1. The regents of The University of the State of New York shall prescribe courses of instruction in highway safety and traffic regulation which shall include bicycle safety, to be maintained and followed in all the schools of the state. The boards of education and trustees of the several cities and school districts of the state shall require instruction to be given in such courses, by the teachers employed in the schools therein. All pupils attending such schools shall attend upon such instruction.
Similar courses of instruction shall be prescribed and maintained in private schools in the state, and all pupils in such schools shall attend upon such courses. If such courses are not so established and maintained in a private school, attendance upon instruction in such school shall not be deemed substantially equivalent to instruction given to pupils of like grade in the public schools in the city or district in which such pupils reside.
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Section 808: Instruction in fire and arson prevention

1. The commissioner is hereby directed to provide and prescribe a course of instruction in fire and arson prevention, injury prevention and life safety education relating to the protection against injury or death and protection of property against loss or damage as a result of criminally initiated or other preventable fire, for use in the schools of the state, as prescribed by this section. Such course of instruction shall include materials to educate children on the dangers of falsely reporting a criminal incident, an impending explosion or fire emergency involving danger to life or property, an impending catastrophe, or a life safety emergency.

2. The board of education, trustees, principal or other person in charge of every public, private and parochial school in the state shall arrange for giving such course of instruction in every school under its or his control or direction. Such instruction shall be given to all of the pupils in every such school for a period of not less than forty-five minutes in each month during which such school is in session.



Article 65, Part 2: School Census


Section 3240: School census in the cities of New York, Buffalo and Rochester

In the cities of New York, Buffalo and Rochester provision shall be made by the board of education for taking a school census in connection with the work of enforcing part one of this article.


Section 3241: School census in cities, except in cities having a population of one hundred twenty-five thousand or more

1. The board of education of each city, except in cities having a population of one hundred twenty-five thousand or more, shall constitute a permanent census board in such city. Such board shall, under its regulations, cause a census of the children in its city to be taken and to be amended from day to day, as changes of residence shall occur among persons in such cities within the ages prescribed in subdivision two of this section and as other persons shall come within the ages prescribed therein and as other persons within such ages shall become residents of such cities, so that there shall always be on file with such board a complete census giving the facts and information required in subdivision two of this section; provided, however, that for pre-school students from birth to five years of age, such census may be prepared and filed biennially on or before the fifteenth day of October.

2. Such census shall include all persons between birth and eighteen years of age and in the case of physically or mentally handicapped children between birth and twenty-one years of age, their names, their respective residences by street and number, the day of the month and the year of their birth, the names of the persons in parental relation to them, such information relating to physical or mental defects, to illiteracy, to employment and to the enforcement of the law relating to child labor and compulsory education as the education department and the board of education of each such city shall require and also such further information as such board of education shall require.

3. Such board shall provide to the commissioner of education upon written request therefor and in such form as shall be prescribed by him, a report containing the names, ages and addresses of those children who are blind or deaf and those having serious physical or mental defects. In addition such report shall indicate whether such children are being educated within the public schools of the district or, if they are not, where such education is being furnished them.

4. It shall be the duty of persons in parental relation to any person between such ages residing within the limits of any such city to make such reports as the board of education of such city shall require. Such reports shall contain the following information:
a. Two weeks before any child shall become of the compulsory school age, the name of such child, its residence, the name of the person or persons in parental relation thereto, and the name and location of the school to which such child shall have been or shall be sent as a pupil.
b. In case a child of compulsory school age shall, for any cause, be removed from one school and sent to another school, or sent to work in accordance with the labor law, all the facts in relation thereto.
c. In case the residence of a child shall be removed from one police precinct to another police precinct, the new residence and the other facts required in paragraphs a and b of this subdivision.
d. In case a child between birth and eighteen years of age shall become a resident of such city for the first time, the name, residence and such other facts as the board of education shall require.


Section 3242: School census in school districts

The trustees or board of education of every school district may cause a census to be taken of all children between birth and eighteen years of age, including all such facts and information as are required in the census provided for in section thirty-two hundred forty-one of this chapter. Such census shall be prepared annually for children between ages five and eighteen who are entitled to attend the public schools without payment of tuition in duplicate in their respective school districts, and one copy thereof filed with the teacher or principal and the other copy filed with the district superintendent or superintendent on or before the fifteenth day of October. For pre-school students from birth to five years of age, such census may be prepared and filed biennially on or before the fifteenth day of October. Such census shall include the reports and information required from cities as provided in section thirty-two hundred forty-one. All information regarding a student with a disability under the age of twenty-one years shall be filed annually with the superintendent of the board of cooperative educational services of which said district may be a part.


Section 3243: Penalty for withholding information

A parent, guardian or other person having under his control or charge a child between birth and eighteen years of age who withholds or refuses to give information in his possession relating to such child and required under part two of this article, or any such parent, guardian or other person who gives false information in relation thereto, shall be liable to and punished by a fine not exceeding twenty dollars or by imprisonment not exceeding thirty days.