Homeschooling in Rhode Island

State Laws

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Rhode Island Laws Regulating Home Education
 Summaries and Explanations of Rhode Island Homeschooling Laws
 Rhode Island Statutes
 Case Law & Legal Opinions

Summaries and Explanations of Rhode Island Homeschooling Laws Back to Top
Legal Information
Rhode Island Guild of Home Teachers (RIGHT)
A guide to understanding the homeschooling laws in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Home School Laws from HSLDA
HSLDA
The Home School Legal Defense Association provides a brief summary of the homeschooling laws in Rhode Island. Includes a link to a legal analysis of laws relating to homeschooling in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Statutes Back to Top
§ 16-19-1 Attendance required.
(a) Every child who has completed or will have completed six (6) years of life on or before September 1 of any school year and has not completed sixteen (16) years of life shall regularly attend some public day school during all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child resides. Every person having under his or her control a child as described in this section shall cause the child to attend school as required by this section, and for every neglect of this duty the person having control of the child shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars ($50.00) for each day or part of a day that the child fails to attend school, and if the total of these days is more than thirty (30) school days during any school year, then the person shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months or shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or both; provided, that if the person so charged shall prove that the child has attended for the required period of time a private day school approved by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education pursuant to § 16-60-6(10), or a course of at-home instruction approved by the school committee of the town where the child resides, or that the physical or mental condition of the child was such as to render his or her attendance at school inexpedient or impracticable, or that the child was excluded from school by virtue of some general law or regulation, then attendance shall not be obligatory nor shall the penalty be incurred. (b) Every child enrolled in school who completes or has completed sixteen (16) years of life and who has not yet attained eighteen (18) years of age shall regularly attend school during all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child resides unless the person having control of the child provides written permission to the school department of the city or town to terminate the child's enrollment. Provided, however, that nothing in this subsection or in subsection (a) of this section shall prohibit or limit cities or towns from enacting programs of early intervention and/or mediation in an effort to address the problems of students who are habitually late or absent from school. (c) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to limit or otherwise interfere with the rights of teachers and other school employees to collectively bargain pursuant to chapters 9.3 and 9.4 of title 28 or to allow any school committee to abrogate any agreement reached by collective bargaining.
§ 16-22-2 Courses in history and government.
A course of study on the principles of popular and representative government as enunciated in the Constitution of Rhode Island and the Constitution of the United States shall be taught in all the public schools of this state. The course of study shall be prescribed by the department of elementary and secondary education. Commencing with the fourth grade in elementary schools, instruction shall be given in the history and government of Rhode Island, and in every high school thorough instruction shall be given in the Constitution and government of Rhode Island and in the Constitution and government of the United States. No private school or private instruction shall be approved for the purposes of chapter 19 of this title unless the course of study shall make provision for instruction substantially equivalent to that required by this chapter for public schools.
§ 16-19-2 Approval of private schools – Requirements – Review.
For the purposes of this chapter a private school or at-home instruction shall be approved only when it complies with the following requirements: (1) that the period of attendance of the pupils in the school or in the home instruction is substantially equal to that required by law in public schools; (2) that registers are kept and returned to the school committee, the superintendent of schools, truant officers, and the department of elementary and secondary education in relation to the attendance of pupils, and are made the same as registers kept by the public schools; (3) that reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, the history of the United States, the history of Rhode Island, and the principles of American government shall be taught in the English language substantially to the same extent as these subjects are required to be taught in the public schools, and that the teaching of the English language and of other subjects indicated in this section shall be thorough and efficient; provided, however, that nothing contained in this section shall be construed or operate to deny the right to teach in private schools or in at-home instruction any of the subjects or any other subject in any other language in addition to the teaching in English as prescribed in this section; provided, further, that any interested person resident in any city or town aggrieved by the action of the school committee of the city or town either in approving or refusing to approve at-home instruction may appeal the action to the department of elementary and secondary education. The department of elementary and secondary education, after notice to the parties interested of the time and place of a hearing, shall examine and decide the appeal without cost to the parties. The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall also grant a hearing to any party aggrieved by a refusal to approve a private school pursuant to § 16-60-6(10). The decision of the board of regents for elementary and secondary education shall, if an appeal is made to the board, be final.
§ 16-22-4 Instruction in health and physical education.
All children in grades one through twelve (12) attending public schools, or any other schools managed and controlled by the state, shall receive in those schools instruction in health and physical education under rules and regulations the department of elementary and secondary education may prescribe or approve during periods which shall average at least twenty (20) minutes in each school day. No private school or private instruction shall be approved by any school committee for the purposes of chapter 19 of this title as substantially equivalent to that required by law of a child attending a public school in the same city and/or town unless instruction in health and physical education similar to that required in public schools shall be given.

Case Law & Legal Opinions Back to Top
Pierce v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
In Pierce v. Society of the Sisters, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "the fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments of this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the creature of the state."


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