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Determining the Legal Requirements for Homeschool in Your Area

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This chapter is from the book
Looking to homeschool, but intimidated by the potential of legal oversight by government bureaucrats? This chapter explains to what extent, and in what ways, the government involves itself in homeschooling, including a rundown of the some states and their varying levels of regulation.

In this chapter

  • Understand why legal requirements are important to your homeschool

  • Determine the legal requirements for homeschool in your state

  • Find out what interaction will be required with local school officials, if any

  • Notify your state that you are homeschooling, if required

  • Document all the legal activity specifically related to your homeschool

  • Be aware of legislative and legal activity occurring that might have an impact on your homeschool

For sometimes better and oftentimes worse, government is involved in many of the activities we choose to undertake. Homeschooling is no exception to this statement. One of the first tasks you need to do after you have decided to homeschool your children is to find out to what extent your state and local governments are going to be involved in the operation of your homeschool. The level of involvement of these governments is determined by the regulations they have established regarding education, and more specifically, regulations related to the alternatives to public schools.

What Has Your State Government or Local School System Got to Do with Homeschool?

Although the general requirements regarding education are laid out at the federal level, public education is mostly the responsibility of state and local governments. Because of this, federal education regulations won't have any impact on your homeschool.

However, any state or local government regulations that govern the area in which you live definitely do have an impact on your homeschool. Failure to comply with such regulations can result in less severe consequences to you, such as warnings or fines, to extremely severe consequences, such as you being unable to homeschool your kids or having child protection agencies investigate or interfere with your family. You should carefully consider and comply with regulations that govern your homeschool.

There are two areas of regulation that you need to consider: state and local guidelines.

Your state certainly has regulations that govern the operation of its public education system. It probably also has regulations that relate to "alternative" or "alternate" schools. These regulations are generally related to private schools, such as schools run by religious organizations. In most cases, these "alternate" regulations are the ones that govern homeschools. No matter which state you live in, you need to understand your state's education regulations that impact your homeschool. The good news is that it is relatively easy to determine your state's regulations. You'll learn how to do this in the next section.

Public schools are actually run by local governments at the city or county level. In some cases, these local governments also will have regulations about alternate schools, again with most of this regulation being directed toward private schools. In many cases, as long as you meet your state's regulations, you will also meet your local government's requirements. In reality, many of the specific regulations that are part of a state's education requirements are administered at the local school level. For example, some state governments require that the public school system have oversight over homeschoolers in their jurisdiction, such as submitting the results of standardized tests to the local school authorities. In the worst case, the local school overseers might attempt to dictate the curricula your homeschool uses, but that is very unlikely. In other cases, you might have to submit to some sort of supervision of your homeschool. Even in these more difficult circumstances, it is still possible to have a good homeschool experience. Dealing with your local school officials is explored in detail a bit later in this chapter.

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