SCHOOLS ‑- PUPILS ‑- POWER OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF SCHOOL DISTRICT TO REFUSE ADMISSION TO PUPILS NOT SIX YEARS OLD
1. A school district may refuse a pupil admission to first grade who is not six years old by September 30.
2. Regulations requiring pupils be six years old by September 30 not applicable to bona fide transfer pupil from another district who properly was admitted to school though not six years old.
3. Regulation requiring pupils be six years old by September 30 gives directors power to refuse pupils who leave district to evade regulation and then return upon reaching six years.
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October 30, 1950
Honorable Hugh H. Evans
Spokane County Court House
Spokane, Washington Cite as: AGO 49-51 No. 378
Attention: Mr. Earl W. Foster
In your letter of October 20, 1950, you requested our opinion on the following three questions:
"1. May a school district refuse to accept for entry into the first grade in September, a student who is not to become six years of age until after September 30th?
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"2. If the answer to the first question is in the positive may a district operating under the rule requiring the reaching of the sixth birthday by September 30th, refuse to accept a transfer student in the midst of the first grade term where this student had been permitted to begin the first grade in another district even though he was not to reach his sixth birthday until after September 30th, the rule being more liberal in the district first enrolling the student, and a circumstance being that the parents had a bonafide residence in the district first enrolling the student?
"3. In the case mentioned in question two, what if the parents actually resided within the district having the September 30th rule, but enrolled their child in a nearby school of a district having the more liberal rule and then asked to transfer him to the school with the September 30th rule, the apparent intention being to evade the regulation of the district of residence?"
Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:
1. A school district may refuse to admit a pupil into the first grade who is not to become six years of age until after September 30 if the board of directors has enacted by-laws [[bylaws]]or regulations to that effect.
2. A school district regulation or by-law [[bylaw]]refusing a pupil admission to the first grade who will not be six years of age until after September 30 does not give the board of directors authority to refuse admission to a pupil transferring during the term from another district who at the time of entering school in the first district was not six years of age by September 30 when such pupil at the time of transfer is six years old and was a bona fide resident of the first district prior to the transfer.
3. A school district regulation or by-law [[bylaw]]refusing admission to the first grade a pupil who will not be six years of age by September 30 empowers the board of directors to refuse admission to a pupil who leaves the district to enter school in another district not having a September 30 rule and then after reaching six years of age returns to the district of his true residence.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
1. On the first question herein this office has held for many years that the board of directors of a school district has authority to enact regulations and by-laws [[bylaws]]refusing pupils admission to school who are not six years of age at the beginning of the term. This authority is derived from section 6, chapter 97, Laws of 1909 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 4781), which authorizes the directors to make such by-laws [[bylaws]]for the government of the common schools as they deem expedient and are consistent with the other provisions of the act.
Furthermore, section 1, chapter 42, Laws of 1941 (4776 Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 1941), provides that the board of directors have power:
"* * * To suspend or expel pupils from school who refuse to obey the rules thereof, and they shall exclude from school all children under six (6) years of age."
Consequently, since the directors have power to enact regulations refusing admission to pupils who are not six years of age at the beginning of the term it is within their power to refuse to admit pupils who will not be six years of age until after September 30.
2. As to the second question, we are of the opinion that the September 30 regulation does not give the board of directors authority to refuse admission to a bona fide transfer pupil who is six years of age. Section 1, chapter 97, Laws of 1909 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 4680), provides in part:
"* * * Every common school * * * shall be open to the admission of all children between the ages of six and twenty-one years residing in that school district."
In our opinion to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, September 29, 1925, we followed an earlier opinion wherein we concluded that a school district was compelled to admit as pupils all children over six years of age. We feel that in light of the statute quoted above and the opinion referred to that a pupil six years of age transferring to the district as a new resident pupil is [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] entitled to admission and the district is compelled to accept him. In our opinion to the Prosecuting Attorney of Benton County, November 6, 1941, we concluded that a school district could by regulation refuse to admit pupils who did not enter at the beginning of the term. This opinion, however, was concerned only with a pupil residing in the district who, for some reason, tried to enter school after the term commenced. Consequently, this opinion is not controlling of the question herein; which concerns transfer of pupils who were properly admitted in another district.
We feel that, inasmuch as each district may prescribe slightly different regulations on the matter herein, each district for the purpose of preserving a pupil's status should recognize and give effect to the regulations of other districts. Thus, where a pupil was properly admitted in one district he should, upon moving into another district, be recognized and admitted if he is six years of age, even though had he been a resident of the second district originally he would not have been eligible for admission.
3. However, as to the third situation where the pupil has transferred from the district having the September 30 rule to another district to intentionally evade the rule and then return upon reaching six years of age, we feel the directors under the September 30 rule have the power to refuse such a pupil admission. To conclude otherwise would be to encourage evasion of the regulation adopted by the board of directors.
Our conclusion on this question is consistent with a recent letter from this office to State Senator Thomas C. Hall, March 6, 1950. We concluded therein that a pupil who leaves his resident district to enter school in Oregon, because Oregon would admit pupils not yet six years of age, was properly refused admission upon returning to his resident district, even though he was now six years old, if the district had a regulation governing admission of pupils not six years of age.
Very truly yours,
ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General