Laws of Free Schools in Arkansas

Tina Easley


Acts 1909, Act 234. Approved May 12, 1909

Required to Attend School One-half Time.

Sec. 1.   Every parent, guardian or other person in the State of Arkansas, having charge or control of any child between the ages of (8) and (16) years, shall cause such child to attend regularly some day school, public, private, parochial or parish, not less than one-half of the entire time the public school said child attends is in session, during any one year, or shall provide such child at home with such regular daily instruction during the usual hours as shall be, in the judgment of court or school board having competent jurisdiction, substantially equivalent to at least the instructions given the chilclren of like age and advancement at the day public school i/i the locality in which said child resides.

Provided, that every parent, guardian or other person in the state of Arkansas, having charge and control of any child between the ages of sixteen and twenty years, who is not actively, regularly and lawfully engaged in some useful employment or service, shall cause said child to attend school as hereinbefore provided for children from 8 to 16 years.

Child Excused From Attendance; When.

Sec. 2. Any child between the ages aforesaid may be excused temporarily from complying with the provisions of this act, in whole or in part, if it be shown to a court of competent jurisdiction or school board of such district, that said parent or guardian, or person having charge or control of said child, is not able through extreme destitution to provide proper clothing for said child, or that said child is mentally or physically incapacitated to attend school for the whole period required or any part thereof, or that there is no public school taught within two and one-half miles of the residence of said child by the nearest traveled road, or that the labor of said child is absolutely necessary for the support of the family, or that said child has completed a common school course, including seven (7) grades, and has certificate of same from the school said child attended. If any child, or children, are unable to attend school as herein before required by not being able to procure books, on satisfactory proof of same, the respective school board shall purchase said books out of the general school fund of said district.

Board to Appoint Officer to Enforce Act.

Sec. 3. The board having charge of a public school in a city or district shall appoint for a period of one year, or more attendance officers to enforce the provisions of this act. The fees of said attendance officers shall be the same as that of peace officers for similar service, and said fees shall be paid from the public school funds of the city or district. The attendance officers shall serve written or printed notices upon the parents or guardians, or persons who have charge and control of any child or children as aforesaid who violate the provisions of this act, and shall, when reasonable doubt exists as to the age of any child, require a properly attested birth certificate or an affidavit stating such child's age, the date of birth and physical characteristics; and shall have the right to visit and enter any office or factory or business house employing children as aforesaid; and the right to require a properly attested certificate of atteudance of any child or children at such day school; and power to arrest without warrant all truants and non-attendants as aforesaid and place them in some public school, unless the parents, guardians or persons in charge and control of said children, respectively, shall at once place them in some other day school as aforesaid. Such attendance officer shall serve the legal notices and suopoenas of the court, without further fee or compensation than that paid by the board as aforesaid, and he shall carry into effect such other regulations as may lawfully be required by the board appointing him.

Provision For Juvenile Disorderly Person.

Sec. 4. The board, having charge of the public schools of any city or district having 10,000 or more population by the last census, may establish and maintain from the public schools in such city or district, or any school board may, at its discretion, purchase land and maintain such school, either within or without their own school district for children who are between the ages of eight and sixteen years, and who are either habitual truants from any day school in which they are enrolled as pupils, or who, while in attendance at any school, are incorrigible, vicious or immoral, or who habitually wander or loiter about the woods or public places without lawful employment, and such children shall be deemed juvenile disorderly persons, and may be by said school board, through its officers, assigned to, and required and compelled to attend such truant or parental school, or any department of the graded schools, as such school board or court may direct.

Penalty For Violating Act.

Sec. 5. Any person or guardian, or person having charge and control of any child between the ages of eight and sixteen years, violating any of the provisions of this act, shall be warned as aforesaid, as soon as possible after the beginning of the public school term of the city, town or district in which such child resides, and also at any time thereafter by the attendance officer herein provided for, or by the clerk of district where no attendance officer is provided for, to place and keep said child in regular attendance at some day school, within ten days from the service of the said written or printed notice of warning, and upon failure to comply with this act, after the lapse of ten days from the date of the service of said notice of warning, said parent, guardian or person having charge or control of said child shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall pay a fine of not less than ten ($10.00) dollars and not more than twenty-five ($25.00) dollars.

Board to Publish Synopsis of This Act Ten Days Before Opening of School.

Sec. 6. Every board having charge of the public schools of any city, town or district in the State of Arkansas, shall each year publish a synopsis of this act ten days prior to the opening of school, in a newspaper published in the town, or city, or district, in which the members thereof reside, or shall post copies thereof in five or more conspicuous places in said district city or town.

No Child to Be Employed in Factory While School is in Session.

Sec. 7. No child between eight and sixteen years of age shall be employed in any mine, factory, workshop, mercantile establishment, or in any manner, during the usual school hours while such school is in session, unless the person employing such child shall first produce a certificate from the superintendent or the teacher of the school he or she attended, stating that such child attended school for the period required by law, or has been excused from attendance by Sec. 2 of this Act,  and it shall be the duty of such superintendent or teacher to furnish such certificate upon application of a parent, guardian or person having control of such child entitled to same.

Owner of Workshop Employing Child Guilty of Misdemeanor.

Sec. 8. Every owner, superintendent or officer of any mine, factory, workshop or mercantile establishment, and any other person who shall employ any child between eight and sixteen years of age, contrary to the provisions of this act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined for each offense in a sum not less than ten ($10.00), dollars, nor more than thirty ($30.00) dollars.

'Note.—STUDENTS EXEMPTED FROM WORKING ROADS. All students in actual attendance in any of the schools in this State, and all persons who are unable to perform labor by reason of physical inability, shall be exempted from working on any of the roads.—Act 287, Approved March 29, 1913.

The following counties are under the provisions of compulsory school attendance, Act No. 347, of 1909: Baxter, Cleburne, Franklin, Independence, Madison, Polk, Scott, Sebastian, Yell.

The following counties are under the provisions of compulsory school attendance, Act No. 231, of 1911: Arkansas, Carroll, Clark, Clay, Cleveland, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Cross, Faulkner, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Greene, Izard, Jackson, Johnson, Lawrence, Logan, Miller, Mississippi, Nevada, Newton, Perry, Pike, Poinsett, Randol-p'ti, Searcy, Sevier, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, Washington, White.


Sec. 7506. Office of state superintendent created. —At the next general election, and every two years thereafter, there shall be elected a state superintendent of public instruction, by the qualified electors of this state, as state officers are now elected.

Duties of State Superintendent.

Sec. 7507. He shall take and file oath.—Before entering upon the duties of his office, he shall take and subscribe the oath prescribed for officers by the constitution of this state, and shall file such oath with the secretary of state.

Sec. 7508. He shall be general supervisor.—The superintendent of public instruction shall be charged with the general superintendence of the business relating to the free common schools of this state.

Sec. 7509. He shall open office at capital.—He shall open at the seat of the state government (at the expense of the state) a suitable office, in which he shall keep all books, reports, documents and other papers pertaining to his department, and where he, shall be in attendance when not necessarily absent on business, and have personal supervision of the business affairs of his office, and keep a clear and correct record thereof.

Sec. 7510. He shall furnish questions.—He shall furnish suitable questions for the examination of teachers to the county examiners; he shall hold a teachers' institute annually in each judicial district of the state, to be called a normal district institute; he shall arrange the program exercises for each of such institutes, and preside thereat. Provided, if he should not be present the teachers who may have assembled may organize and hold such normal district institute.

That portion of this Section referring to institutes repealed by Act May 23, 1907.

Sec. 7511. He shall furnish materials to county examiners.—He shall prepare, and transmit to the county examiners school registers, blank certificates, reports and other printed blanks, together with other suitable blanks, forms and printed instructions to be forwarded to directors and other school officers, as may be necessary to aid such officers in making their reports and carrying into full effect the various provisions of the school laws of this state. Act December 7, 1875, Secc. 13-16.

Sec. 7512. He shall prepare poll books.—The superintendent of public instruction shall prepare a form of poll books to be used by the directors of the various school districts of this state at their annual elections as are now, or may hereafter be provided by law, and have the same printed as other blanks for school purposes; and shall transmit the same to the county examiner of each county for distribution to school directors in the same manner as other school blanks are now, or shall hereafter be, distributed. Act March 2, 1877.

Sec. 7513. He shall be guardian of school fund, and may bring suit.—He shall exercise such supervision over the school fund as to ascertain the amount and disposal made of the same, their protection and safety when invested or deposited, and recommend measures for their •security and preservation, and for rendering them most productive of revenue; shall enforce the strict application of the school revenues to the, legitimate purposes for which they were intended, and shall When directed by the commissioners of the school fund, cause to be instituted, in the name, of the State of Arkansas, suits or actions for the recovery of any portion of the said funds or said revenues that may be squandered, illegally applied, or unsafely deposited.

Sec. 7514.—Annual report.Includes what.—He .shall, on or before the first day of November in each year, prepare and submit to the governor of this state an annual report, in writing, showing the number of persons between the, ages of six and twenty-one years residing in the state on the first day of the preceding July; the number of such persons in each county; the number of each -sex; the number of white; the number of colored; the whole number of such persons that attended the free common schools of the state during the year ending the 30th day of the last preceding June, and the number in each county that attended during the same period; the number of whites of each sex that attended, and the number of  colored of each sex that attended the said schools; the number of common schools in the state; the number of pupils that studied each of the branches taught; the average wages paid teachers of each sex; the relative average wages paid to male and female teachers respectively, according to the different grades of their certificates; the number of school houses erected during the year, the material and cost thereof; the number previously erected, the material of which they were constructed, their condition and value; the number with their grounds enclosed; the, counties in which teachers' institutes were held, and the number that attended tihe institutes in each county.