Do you know education law for children and your education rights in the USA? Education law says everyone has a right to free education. Students have the right to wear a hijab and to pray. You have a right to interpreters when you talk to your children’s school. Learn about your education rights.
Your right to go to school
In every state in the USA, children have a right to education. You do not need to be a citizen or a legal immigrant. In fact, education law in every state says all children must go to school for a certain number of years.
The age children must start school is between 5 and 8 years old depending on the state. They must stay in school until they are 16, 17, or 18 years old, also depending on which state they live in.
Every community has public schools for all ages that are free, usually from the age of 5 years old, but in some states it is 4 or 6 years old.
Children in the USA must stay in school until they are at least 16, but they have a right to stay in school for longer. If students are not ready to graduate from high school at 18, they have a right to stay or enroll until they are at least 20 or 21 years old. In a few states, there is no age limit. You can read in English and Spanish about immigrant students’ rights to attend school in the USA. You can also see the school starting ages and age limits in your state.
Unfortunately, some older students have been denied the right to stay or enroll in school. They have been told they need to go to adult education classes to get a high school diploma.
If you do not have access to high school, you can study online for a GED®, HiSET or TASC certificate with our free online GED® preparation class. The GED®, HiSET and TASC certificates are instead of high school diplomas. They show colleges and employers that you have the same knowledge as a someone who graduated from high school in the USA.
Education law and rights for Muslim Americans
Some Muslim American students feel discriminated against at school. If you are Muslim, you should know your rights. For example, you have the right to wear your hijab or kufi at public school, even if there is a dress code. You are allowed to pray, and you can miss school for religious holidays.
CAIR teaches American Muslims about their rights and responsibilities as citizens and helps them take part in all aspects of civic life. The information on this page explains to young Muslim Americans what their rights are at school.
Note: the download button on the CAIR page does not work. But you can download the pocket guide from our website to save or print.
Education law and rights for newcomers
The ACLU says, “It is the job of the public schools to teach you to speak English and to provide you with a good education in other subjects while you are learning. Students who do not speak English have the right to require the school district to provide them with bilingual education or English language instruction or both.”
This government information is for parents, students, and schools who need to understand the rights of families who do not speak, listen, read, or write English as their first language.
This information is in many languages. When you choose your language below, the link will open in another window. They are pdf documents, so you can download them to keep or print:
- Chinese (simplified)
- Chinese (traditional)
- Public school
- Register my child in school
- How to get free translation help
- Immigrant rights: know your rights as an immigrant
- Learn about the GED®, HiSET and TASC tests
The information on this page comes from the US government and other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.
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