(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b), every child between the ages of six and 17 years shall be required to attend a public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a competent private tutor for the entire length of the school term in every scholastic year except that, prior to attaining his or her 16th birthday every child attending a church school as defined in Section 16-28-1 is exempt from the requirements of this section, provided the child complies with enrollment and reporting procedures specified in Section 16-28-7. Admission to public school shall be on an individual basis on the application of the parents, legal custodian, or guardian of the child to the local board of education at the beginning of each school year, under the rules as the board may prescribe; provided, a person who is under 19 years of age and on track to graduate from public school may not be denied admission to public school solely on account of his or her age. The parent, legal custodian, or guardian of a child who is six years of age, may opt out of enrolling his or her child in school at the age of six years by notifying the local school board of education, in writing, that the child will not be enrolled in school until he or she is seven years of age.
(b)(1) If a child withdraws from a public school, upon verification of enrollment in a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or any entity with accreditation status as determined by one of the agencies identified on the United States Department of Education's list of Recognized National and Regional Accrediting Agencies or their affiliates accredited and recognized online school which has been authorized by the Alabama State Department of Education to provide instruction in lieu of in-person instruction, the child shall be counted as a transfer student.
(2) If a child returns to a public school, semester exams shall be given to the child to determine grade placement.
(3) This subsection does not and should not be interpreted to create online schools. However, if a student chooses to attend an accredited, state authorized online school, that student's former school should not be penalized by the student being classified as a dropout.