When are children required to go to school in Michigan?

This question is more common than you'd think in the context of child custody situations! Did you know that in Michigan, preschool and kindergarten aren't required?! Michigan law does not make school compulsory until age 6! A child who turns age 5 between January 1 and September 1 has the option to attend kindergarten, but enrollment is not mandatory in Michigan. Parents whose children turn age 5 after September 1 can seek a waiver to enroll their child in kindergarten. Kindergarten is optional in 34 states and mandatory in 16 and the District of Columbia, so Michigan might be running behind the education requirements in the US as of 2020.

MCL 380.1561 describes compulsory school attendance in Michigan. It states specifically:

  • A child becoming 6 years of age before December 1 shall be enrolled on the first school day of the school year in which the child's sixth birthday occurs, and a child becoming 6 years of age on or after December 1 shall be enrolled on the first school day of the school year following the school year in which the child's sixth birthday occurs.

How does this affect your child custody situation? This comes up when parents are seeking to determine what school district a child should attend school in. See the example below:

  • Example: Mom lives in Kalamazoo and Dad lives in Portage. Mom would like to enroll the child in kindergarten in Kalamazoo Public Schools to take advantage of the Kalamazoo Promise. Dad would like to enroll the child in school in Portage Public Schools. The Court denies to order the child attend either school district because the State of Michigan does not require that the child start school in kindergarten and post-pones ruling on a school district until the child starts first grade.

The above example can obviously be devastating to starting a child off in school if the parents are not able to come to an agreement and can put a child's education behind. Parents that live a long distance apart may want to seek mediation or further discuss how they will handle schooling before it becomes an issue. Discuss with an attorney your options.

Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation.269-381-4471


121 W Cedar Street

Kalamazoo, MI 49007

All information provided on this site should not be construed as legal advice.   Always meet with an attorney to find out your legal options.

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