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The Law of Colorado Public School Discipline — Part 1

The best place to start when looking at issues involving Colorado school discipline is in the most relevant Colorado statute, which is C.R.S. 22-33-101, better known as the Colorado School Attendance Law of 1963.

The law requires that every child who is six years old on or before August 1 of each year and under the age of 17 must attend school (C.R.S. 22-33-104). This is important because many people believe that compulsory attendance runs until age 16, but in fact it runs until age 17. Attendance can be at a variety of schools, and online schools, which have become quite popular, count as well. One practice that has become common in schools is known as “redshirting.” The CBS news program 60 Minutes featured a report on this practice and its growing popularity. Under this redshirting method, parents basically hold their kids back from kindergarten and first grade for one year. So, under normal circumstances, a child would begin kindergarten at the age of five and first grade at the age of six. With redshirting, a child would begin kindergarten at six and first grade at seven. This practice has become popular because of some research indicating that it might be beneficial to a child’s social and academic development, although there is some controversy surrounding this. Without addressing the controversial aspects of this practice, I can say that it is specifically allowed under C.R.S. 22-133-104(1)(d), so Colorado parents have redshirting as an option.

Although the general rule is that kids must attend school, certain absences can be excused, such as in the case of illness or physical, mental or emotional disability under C.R.S. 22-133-104(2). Moreover, kids who are home-schooled are considered to be in attendance, too.

But what about kids who have been expelled? There’s a great misconception that kids who have been expelled from school simply don’t attend school during the time of the expulsion. That is absolutely untrue. Every school district that expels students must nevertheless meet the educational needs of those students. In larger districts – such as in Denver, Jeffco, Aurora and others in the Denver metro area – specific alternative schools have been set up for students who have either been expelled or are going through expulsion proceedings. In smaller districts, other arrangements are made. Nevertheless, students who have been expelled must still attend school.

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