CHAPTER 18. EDUCATION.

§18-8-1a. Commencement and termination of compulsory school attendance; public school entrance requirements; exceptions.

NOTE: West Virginia Code §18-8-1a was amended by two bills passed during the 2021 Regular Session of the Legislature. When two acts of the Legislature amend the same section of the Code without express recognition in the bill of the action of the other bill, the Legislative Manager makes no determination as to the appropriate, legal effect of the two acts. Therefore, BOTH versions of this section are set out below.
The later of the two acts, House Bill 2785 (passed on April 7, 2021), amended West Virginia Code §18-8-1a to read as follows:

(a) Compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to July 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a full-time publicly funded kindergarten program, and continues to the 17th birthday or for as long as the student continues to be enrolled in a school system after the 17th birthday.

(1) A child may be removed from such kindergarten program when the parent or guardian determines that the best interest of the child would not be served by requiring further attendance.

(2) The compulsory school attendance provision of this article shall be enforced against a person 18 years of age or older for as long as the person continues to be enrolled in a school system and may not be enforced against the parent, guardian, or custodian of the person.

(b) A parent, as defined in §18-31-2 of this code, shall have the option, prior to enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program, to apply for a Hope Scholarship on behalf of his or her child as set forth in §18-31-1 et seq. of this code. Every year thereafter, a parent shall have the option to renew his or her child’s enrollment in the Hope Scholarship Program pursuant to §18-31-8 of this code.

(c) Attendance at a state-approved, nonpublic kindergarten program, including a Montessori kindergarten program as provided in §18-5-18 of this code, homeschool kindergarten program, Hope Scholarship kindergarten program, or private, parochial, or church kindergarten program recognized under §18-8-1(k) of this code is deemed school attendance for the purposes of this section. Students entering the public school system after such kindergarten program shall be placed in the developmentally and academically appropriate grade level.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section and §18-5-18 of this code, a county board may provide for advanced entrance or placement under policies adopted by said board for any child who has demonstrated sufficient mental and physical competency for such entrance or placement.

(e) A student from another state, or who is eligible to enroll in a public school in this state, shall be enrolled in the same grade in a public school in West Virginia as the student was enrolled at the school or program from which the student transferred. A transcript or other credential provided by a public school program, private school program, homeschool program or HOPE scholarship program shall be accepted by a public school in this state as a record of a student’s previous academic performance for the purposes of placement and credit assignment.

The earlier act, House Bill 2013 (passed on March 17, 2021) amended West Virginia Code §18-8-1a to read as follows:

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section one of this article, compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to September 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program and, subject to subdivision (3) of this subsection, continues to the sixteenth birthday or for as long as the student continues to be enrolled in a school system after the sixteenth birthday.

(1) A child may be removed from such kindergarten program when the principal, teacher and parent or guardian concur that the best interest of the child would not be served by requiring further attendance: Provided, That the principal shall make the final determination with regard to compulsory school attendance in a publicly supported kindergarten program.

(2) The compulsory school attendance provision of this article shall be enforced against a person eighteen years of age or older for as long as the person continues to be enrolled in a school system and may not be enforced against the parent, guardian or custodian of the person.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of section one of this article, compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to September 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program and continues to the seventeenth birthday or for as long as the student continues to be enrolled in a school system after the seventeenth birthday: Provided, That beginning in the school year 2019-2020, compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to July 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program.

(b) A parent, as defined in §18-31-2 of this code, shall have the option, prior to enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program, to apply for a Hope Scholarship on behalf of his or her child as set forth in §18-31-1 et seq. of this code. Every year thereafter, a parent shall have the option to renew his or her child’s enrollment in the Hope Scholarship Program pursuant to §18-31-8 of this code.

(c) Attendance at a state-approved or Montessori kindergarten, as provided in section eighteen, article five of this chapter, is deemed school attendance for purposes of this section. Prior to entrance into the first grade in accordance with section five, article two of this chapter, each child must have either:

(1) Successfully completed such publicly or privately supported, state-approved kindergarten program or Montessori kindergarten program; or

(2) Successfully completed an entrance test of basic readiness skills approved by the county in which the school is located. The test may be administered in lieu of kindergarten attendance only under extraordinary circumstances to be determined by the county board.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, section five, article two of this chapter and section eighteen, article five of this chapter, a county board may provide for advanced entrance or placement under policies adopted by said board for any child who has demonstrated sufficient mental and physical competency for such entrance or placement.

(e) This section does not prevent a student from another state from enrolling in the same grade in a public school in West Virginia as the student was enrolled at the school from which the student transferred.

§18-8-1a. Commencement and termination of compulsory school attendance; public school entrance requirements; exceptions.