Homeschooling and the Law

May 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Home Schooling

Homeschooling is 100%, absolutely legal!

One of the things parents fear are the legal repercussions of homeschooling their kids. They think that homeschooling is illegal, and they’ll have to be secretive about it so the government doesn’t crack down on them. This fear is warranted, depending on where you stay, but can be taken to extremes too.

Although the US constitution makes no mention at all of education, legal rules regarding education are formed in very state, and as such, vary from state to state. The Department of Education plays a big role in this.

Homeschooling is completely legal in all the states, but there are more restrictions regarding this in some states. Idaho and Texas are two states where homeschooling doesn’t have many constraints, whereas Massachusetts and New York are quite heavy handed! These states ask for the complete home student’s curriculum which has to be accepted by the state. They ask for student achievement scores submission, and can also make house visits to see how the student is faring. A state like Pennsylvania asks that the resources and materials used in homeschooling be presented for review to the local school district.

At the moment, legal attempts are ongoing to watch and defeat bills that increase the authority of the state to watch the students at home, or to make public school attendance compulsory. 2006 showed a defeat of such efforts. Even today, parents have no cause to worry, since their rights to decide have been preserved by the courts for many decades.

In the year 1925, the Supreme Court ruled that the care and education of a child was the duty and right of the parents and not the state, in the case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters. As late as the year 2000, there was another case of the sort that reached the Supreme Court, and its ruling that education is a fundamental right of parents is still used today by lawyers who fight for the parents rights to homeschool their kids. This case was Troxel v. Granville, and was more a case of visitation rather than education.

In the year 1983, the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association, was born to fight for the parents right to homeschool their child. This organization has helped many parents to establish their rights to homeschool their kid, and has undertaken to track all the legal concerns of homeschooling. The HSLDA publishes an annual digest of all the legislative acts in the homeschooling field, as well as the amendments made by both the states as well as Congress.

Usually, the individual states as well as the Federal government try to reduce the parents’ rights over homeschooling their children. However, most of these cases have effectively been rules in support of the parents.

Although this is infrequent, there have been a few cases of overeager social workers who think it their task to safeguard the child from the parent, and do so even when there is absolutely no indication of parental abuse. This can affect the parents’ rights to homeschool their children. However, the HSLDA is willing to help out in these situations by supplying resources to parents to ensure that this never happens!

Before you can start homeschooling your child, you must educate yourself first in all these matters: paperwork required by states, legal requirements and supervision standards. Then only can you ease your mind of fear over breaking any homeschooling rules!