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This Day in Georgia History

August 19, 1916

First Compulsory School Attendance Law

Georgia’s first compulsory school attendance law was signed by Gov. Nathaniel Harris. The legislation required children aged 8-14 attend school for at least four months each year. However, a long list of exemptions seriously weakened the law. For example, school attendance was not required of children who (1) had completed the fourth grade, (2) who needed to work to help support their family, (3) whose parents could not afford to buy books and clothing, or (4) who lived over three miles from school. Additionally, local boards of education could excuse children from attending school “for other good reason.”