In Québec, school attendance for children is both a right and a legal obligation. All children residing in Québec must attend school from the first day of the school calendar in the school year following that in which they turn 6 years old until the last day of the school calendar in the school year during which they turn 16 years old OR at the end of which they obtain a diploma awarded by the Minister, whichever comes first.
The school service centre or school board may exempt a child from compulsory school attendance due to one of the following situations:
- the child has an illness or a physical or mental disability
- the child is receiving medical care or treatment
- the child has been expelled from school
- the child is being homeschooled in compliance with the Homeschooling Regulation
A child is also not required to attend public school if they attend:
- a private educational institution governed by the Act respecting private education
- a vocational training centre in the school network
- an organization providing vocational training recognized by the Act respecting private education
- an institution that is covered by an international agreement under the Act respecting the Ministère des Relations internationales
Roles and responsibilities
The Minister of Education takes measures to ensure that the compulsory school attendance requirement is met. Parents and the school system also play an important role and have their own responsibilities.
As parents, you must take the necessary steps so that your child can attend school. You must also collaborate with the school system or the individuals designated by the Minister when required.
The school administration ensures that your child attends school regularly. In the event of repeated or unexcused absences, the administration will intervene with you and your child to find an appropriate way to address the situation. If the intervention is unsuccessful, the school will contact the Director of Youth Protection after having advised you in writing.
School service centres and school boards
School service centres and school boards help ensure that children can attend school. They are required to inform you of your obligations under the Education Act as well as the educational services that your child is entitled to. The Minister may request that a school service centre or school board verify a child’s situation. In that case, the school service centre or school board will follow up with the Minister and may refer problematic cases to the Director of Youth Protection after having advised you in writing.
Penalties, fines and prosecution
The Education Act provides for penalties, such as fines, related to compulsory school attendance. Legal action may be taken against any person who:
- acts in way that makes it difficult for a child to attend school
- helps or incites another person to commit an infraction that would undermine a child’s compulsory school attendance
- fails to cooperate with the individuals designated by the government or inhibits their work
- makes false declarations
If you believe you have witnessed a situation that may compromise the ability of a child to attend school you can report it by filling out a disclosure form , which will be treated with strict confidentiality.
Direction générale des territoires et des enquêtes
Ministère de l’Éducation
1035 rue De La Chevrotière, 1er étage, bureau 140
Québec (Québec) G1R 5A5
Last update: January 14, 2021