Adam B. Shaffer, J. Harry Pershing, Arthur D. Stevenson, Pittsburgh, Pa., for appellant.
Mortimer B. Lesher, Sol., Oscar G. Peterson, Asst. Sol., Niles Anderson, Pittsburgh, Pa., for appellees.
Elmer T. Bolla, Deputy Atty. Gen., T. McKeen Chidsey, Atty. Gen., for Commonwealth.
Sidney L. Wickenhaver, C. Brewster, Rhoads, Edward B. Soken, Philadelphia, Pa., for School Dist. of Philadelphia, amicus curiae.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross and Fine, JJ.
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 137]
Appellants,*fn1 husband and wife, were convicted in a summary proceeding before an alderman and on appeal in the court below of violating the compulsory attendance provisions of the School Code.
The offense was committed on January 19, 1949, and the applicable statute is the Act of May 18, 1911, P.L. 309, § 1414, as last amended by the Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 786, § 2, 24 P.S. § 1421. It requires 'every parent * * * of any child or children of compulsory school age [between the ages of eight and seventeen years] * * * to send such child or children to a day school * * *; and such child or children shall attend such school continuously through the entire term * * * Provided, That the
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 138]
certificate of any principal or teacher of a private school, or of any institution for the education of children * * * setting forth that the work of said school is in compliance with the provisions of this act, shall be sufficient and satisfactory evidence thereof: * * * Regular daily instruction * * * by a properly qualified private tutor, shall be considered as complying with the provisions of this section, if such instruction is satisfactory to the proper county or district superintendent of schools.'*fn2 (Emphasis added.) Provision is made for the allowance of other exceptions which are not material to this case.
It will be observed that the requirement of compulsory attendance can be satisfied in a 'day school' which may be a public school, 'a private school,' or an 'institution for the education of children'. The last two classifications include parochial or denominational schools. Daily instruction by an approved private tutor will also satisfy the statute.*fn3
The provision that children shall attend 'continuously through the entire term' recognizes the obvious fact that each day's school work is built upon the lessons taught on the preceding day. It is virtually impossible properly to educate a child who is absent one day a week. Friday's instruction is the foundation for understanding Monday's lesson. By such regularly recurring absences the child loses not only one-fifth of the instruction, but the continuity of the course of ...