Minnesota’s compulsory education law requires children between ages 7 and 17 to attend a public, private, or home school. Read on to learn about the state’s requirements for dropping out before turning 18, what happens to truants, and how to earn a high school equivalency diploma.
Requirements for Withdrawing From School Before Age 18
Minnesota allows you to drop out if you're 17 or older. But the state adds requirements for withdrawing from school if you're still 17. You must attend a meeting with school representatives, along with your parent or guardian, to learn about available opportunities for alternatives to regular school. After the meeting, both you and your parent must sign a written statement that you are choosing to withdraw. (Minn. Stat. § 120A.22, subd. 8. (2019).)
When School-Age Students Aren’t Required to Attend
Minnesota parents may apply to have their children excused from attendance for all or part of a school year for certain legitimate reasons, including physical or mental health problems. The school board will approve the application only if it’s satisfied that the excuse is valid. (Minn. Stat. § 120A.22, subd. 12. (2019).)
Minnesota’s Truancy Policies
No matter how old you are, dropping out can lead to a range of long-term financial costs. But if you stop going to school before you’ve graduated or met the legal requirements for withdrawing, you could face more immediate consequences: penalties for truancy. Schools will first try to work with truants and their parents to solve the problem.
Still, students who continue to miss school without valid excuses could end up in juvenile court. Once that happens, the court could make certain orders, including taking away driving privileges for any period of time until the truant turns 18. However, unless there’s a juvenile court order to that effect, Minnesota specifically prohibits linking driving privileges or license suspensions to secondary school attendance. (Minn. Stat. §§ 171.176, 260C.201(b) (2019).)
Minnesota High School Equivalency Diploma
Dropouts can earn a Minnesota GED diploma by passing the GED tests. Generally, you can take the test only if you’re 19 years old and aren’t currently enrolled in high school. Former students who are 17 or 18 may take the test only if they apply for an age waiver and meet certain requirements.