State Law: Rhode Island

Rhode Island compulsory school attendance age

In Rhode Island, you must enroll your child in school if he or she is 6 years old on or before September 1. Your child must remain in school until he or she turns 18. If a child has been enrolled in school for kindergarten the child must continue going to school that academic year, even if he or she is not yet 6.

If your child graduates from your homeschool program prior to turning 18, and has been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program, you can obtain a waiver for subsequent school years from the superintendent of your local public school district.

If your child is not yet 18 and has not been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program, but is over the age of 16, you can obtain a waiver from the superintendent of your local public school district if the superintendent approves an “alternative learning plan for obtaining either a high school diploma or its equivalent.”

HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Rhode Island law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.

Withdrawing your child from his or her current school

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.

We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for Rhode Island available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.

Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.

Complying with Rhode Island’s homeschool law

Rhode Island law specifically refers to homeschooling in R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-19-2. To homeschool under this statute, you’ll need to follow these guidelines.

1. Submit a notice of intent and obtain approval to homeschool. 

You must submit a notice of intent to the local school committee in the school district where your child resides. The notice (or letter) of intent must include information assuring that you will teach the same number of days as the public school, teach the subjects listed below, and maintain an attendance register.

2. Provide the required period of instruction. 

You must teach your children the same number of days that public school students are taught. In Rhode Island, this amounts to 180 days of instruction during your school year.

3. Teach the required subjects. 

You must provide instruction in reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, health, and physical education, as well as the history of the United States, the history of Rhode Island, and the principles of American government (collectively, civics).

4. Keep an attendance register. 

You must keep and maintain an attendance register, and make it available to the school committee at the conclusion of your school year.

5. Comply with any additional local district requirements. 

Beyond the above general requirements, each school district is permitted by state law to create its own homeschool policy. Please note that once you submit your notice of intent to your local school committee, the committee may contact you afterward if they wish you to meet any further requirements other than those listed above.

If you are considering moving to Rhode Island, or are moving to a different school district in Rhode Island, HSLDA encourages our members to contact our legal department ahead of time to discuss any additional local requirements that may be in force in your new district.

The importance of recordkeeping

You can find Rhode Island’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.