Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1953 No. 53 - May 25 1953
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Directors of non-high school district should refuse to admit to eighth grade resident student who has already graduated from grammar school in district.

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                                                                   May 25, 1953

Honorable Pearl A. Wanamaker
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 53

Dear Mrs. Wanamaker:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on a question arising from the following facts:  A boy of sixteen completed the grammar school curriculum in the non-high school district of his residence last year.  He attended high school in a neighboring district for a short time at the beginning of the current year.  He has now returned to the district where he resides and demands readmission to the grammar school, which offers no course beyond the eighth grade.

            Your question is this: Can the board of directors in a non-high school district refuse to permit attendance in grammar school of a sixteen-year-old boy who has already graduated from that school?

            In our opinion the answer to this question is "Yes."


            Our State Constitution provides that public education shall be available to all children in the state.  Article IX, section 1; Article XXVI, section 4.  This declared purpose is implemented directly by statute.  RCW 28.58.190 provides:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "Every common school shall be open to the admission of all children between the ages of six and twenty-one yearsresiding in the school district."  (Emphasis supplied)

            RCW 28.58.230 provides:

            "Every high school in a high school district shall admit all persons of school age who are residents of this state, and not residents of another high school district carrying the grades for which they desire to enroll, upon presentation of satisfactory evidence of having completed in a creditable manner the state eighth grade course of study as prescribed by the state board of education."

            These two statutes were construed by this office in the attached opinion of September 25, 1930, to the effect that a high school is required to admit as students persons of school age although they have previously graduated from a high school.  That conclusion conforms to the purpose of the cited and quoted provisions.  A high school graduate may wish to obtain instruction in various elective subjects which he could not have studied before due to limitations of time.  As indicated, he would be entitled to such instruction.

            This case presents the opposite situation.  There are no elective subjects in the elementary curriculum.  Satisfactory completion of that curriculum is a condition precedent to graduation.  Should the graduate of a grammar school be allowed to return, he could receive instruction in no course which he had not already completed.  Insofar as the grammar school is concerned, the duty of the state to that student has been fulfilled.  His return could serve no useful purpose, and would require unnecessary expenditures of time and money.  Although the language of RCW 28.58.190, supra, might by a literal reading be construed to permit attendance in courses already completed, we do not believe the legislature intended that result.  InPeople ex rel. Ulrich v. Board of Education, 4 N.Y.S. 102, a New York court refused to compel re‑admission [[readmission]]to the first grade of a pupil who had completed that grade.  See also 79 C.J.S. 349, Schools, section 445.

            If the person in question desires further education he may attend high school under the provision of RCW 28.58.230, supra.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We conclude that this student has no right to a second grammar-school education, and that the school board in his district should refuse him re‑admission to the eighth grade.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General