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501.3 Compulsory Attendance

Parents within the school district, who have children over age four (4) and enrolled in the statewide preschool program, over age five (5) and enrolled in the district’s kindergarten program, or over age six (6) and under age sixteen (16) by September 15, in proper physical and mental condition to attend school, shall have the children attend the school district at the attendance center designated by the board.


Students shall attend school the number of days that school is in session in accordance with the school calendar. Students of compulsory attendance age shall attend school a minimum number of days or hours as required by law. Graduating seniors may be excused up to five (5) days of instruction after the requirements for graduation have been met.


Students over age four (4) on September 15 and enrolled in the statewide preschool program and students over age five (5) on September 15 and enrolled in the District’s kindergarten program, may not attend the minimum days only if the student’s parent notifies the district in writing of the parent’s intent to remove the child from the preschool and/or from enrollment in the district.


Students of compulsory attendance age, students over age six (6) and under age sixteen (16) on September 15, may not attend the minimum only if the student falls into one of the following exemptions:

  • has completed the requirements for graduation in an accredited school or has obtained a high school equivalency diploma;
  • is attending religious services or receiving religious instruction;
  • is attending an approved or probationary approved private college preparatory school;
  • is attending an accredited nonpublic school;
  • is receiving competent private instruction; or
  • is subject to the Attendance Cooperation Process.


It is the responsibility of the parent of a child to provide evidence of the child’s mental and physical inability to attend school or of the child’s qualifications for one of the exceptions listed above.


The building principal shall investigate the cause for a student’s truancy. If the building principal is unable to secure the truant student’s attendance, the building principal should discuss the next step with the school board. If after school board action, the student is still truant, the building principal shall refer the matter over to the county attorney for students of compulsory attendance age. Truant students who have not yet completed sixth grade will be subject to the Attendance Cooperation Process outlined in the supporting administrative regulation.


The school will participate in mediation if requested by the county attorney. The superintendent shall represent the school district in mediation. The school district will monitor the student’s compliance with the mediation agreement and will report violations of the mediation agreement to the county attorney.


The compulsory attendance law does not require school districts to have a truancy officer. However, for those without a truancy officer, a school official must be assigned the responsibility for the Attendance Cooperation process and for collecting truancy information.


Legal Reference:                   

Iowa Code §§ 239.5B; 259A; 279.10-.11; ch. 299; 299A.

441 I.A.C. 41.25(8)

1978 Op. Att’y. Gen. 379.

281 I.A.C. 12.1(7)


Approved   02/26/91       Reviewed 05/16/2016         Revised 05/16/2016