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Massachusetts Compulsory Attendance Statutes from 1852-1913

Compiled for workshop on History of Compulsory Attendance
Boxborough 2003
Research done by Nicky Hardenbergh at the State Archives


Chapter 240

An Act Concerning the Attendance of Children at School

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives

Section 1. Every person who shall have any child under his control between the ages of eight and fouteen years, shall send such child to some public school within the town or city in which he resides, during at least twelve weeks, if the public schools within such town or city shall be so long kept, in each and every year during which such child shall be under his control, six weeks of which shall be consecutive.

Section 2. (Describes fine of $20 for truancy)

Section 3. It shall be the duty of the school committee in the several towns or cities to inquire into all cases of violation of the first section of this act, and to ascertain of the persons violating the same, the reasons, if any, for such violation and they shall report such cases, together with such reasons, if any, to the town or city in their annual report; but they shall not report any cases such as are provided for by the fourth section of this act.

Section 4. If, upon inquiry by the school committee, it shall appear, or if upon th etrial of any complaint or indictment under this act it shall appear, that such child has attended some school, not in the town or city in which he resides, for the time required by this act, or has been otherwise furnished with the means of education for a like period of time, or has already acquired those branches of learning which are taught in common schools, [also describes physical incapacity or poverty as being valid excuses for absence from school] shall not be held to have violated the provisions of this act.

Section 5. It shall be the duty of the treasurer of the town or city to prosecute all violations of this act.


(first appearance of "otherwise instructed" wording)
The relevant section was changed to read as follows: "..but if such a child has attended for a like period of time a private day school approved by the school committee or if such child has been otherwise instructed for a like period of time in the branches of learning..."


Chapter 383 --The relevant section was changed to read as follows: ".of if he has been otherwise instructed for a like period of time in the branches of learning required by law to be taught in the public schools, or if he has already acquired such branches of learning, of if his physical or mental condition is such as to render such attendance inexpedient or impracticable."


Chapter 779--Upon petition from the Massachusetts School Superintendents Association for legislation relative to school attendance and to the employment of minors

This is the point at which the wording about "otherwise instructed in a manner approved in advance by the superintendent or the school committee" became law.

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