Interpretation's Date: January 29, 1991
by superintendent Henry Marockie
Section: IV. Students
Ms. Ruth Mooney January 29, 1991
Dear Ms. Mooney:
You have asked:
1. If a sixteen year old student is married to an individual over the age of eighteen, when the accumulation of unexcused absences necessitates legal notices and actions, who is legally the guardian, the student's parents or the student's spouse?
The student is still obligated to attend school because there is no exemption from compulsory school attendance granted for marriage, and compulsory school attendance continues after one's sixteenth birthday for as long as the student continues to be enrolled in public school. See W.Va. Code 18-8-1 and 1a.1 On the other hand, marriage emancipates a person from her (or his) parents. Therefore, she appears to be legally responsible for herself as far as the school law is concerned; so serve papers upon her, and act toward her as though she were an adult.2 If she refuses to accept service or if you wish to pursue this question further, then I recommend that you seek help from your county prosecuting attorney.
2. Who would be the legal guardian in a case where the student would be under the age of sixteen?
See my response to one, above.
1 Read in this respect STATE SUPERINTENDENT'S INTERPRETATION "Pupil" May 9, 1983, and its referenced April 14, 1983, opinion from the Office of the Attorney General (on opposite sides of the same paper). Cf. 55 Op. Atty. Gen. 192 (1973). All three are enclosed. 2 Read the enclosed W.Va. Code 48-1-1 and 49-7-27.