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Determining the Legal Requirements in Your State for Homeschooling

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As a homeschooler, you must understand your state's education regulations that impact your homeschool. Then, you must make sure that your homeschool complies with these regulations and that you can document that it does so.

Homeschooling and the Home School Legal Defense Association
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a national, non-profit organization established to "defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms."

The HSLDA is an outstanding source of information about the legal implications of homeschooling across the United States. Much of the specific information included in this chapter is based on information compiled by the HSLDA. In addition to providing information to homeschoolers, the HSLDA also represents homeschooling families in court cases and advocates for homeschoolers in legislation, the media, and in other venues. You can contact the HSLDA by visiting its Web site at www.hslda.org or by calling 640-338-5600.

Types of State Regulations Related to Homeschool

There are four basic levels of state regulation regarding homeschooling, as summarized in the following list:

  • Least. In these states, such as Indiana, Texas, Illinois, and Idaho, parents aren't required to provide any information about their homeschool to the state. Although there are regulations that provide general guidelines about how children should be educated, parents are under no obligation to inform the state about how they educate their children.

  • Minimal. In these states, such as California, New Mexico, Alabama, and Kansas, you only need to inform the state that you are homeschooling your children. After that, the state assumes you are meeting its general guidelines and doesn't attempt to oversee your homeschool.

  • Moderate. States with moderate regulation, such as Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, and Florida, require that you formally notify the state about your homeschool. You must also submit some sort of progress report to the state, such as test scores or professional evaluation of your students' progress.

  • Significant. These states, including Washington, Minnesota, New York, and Maine, are the most difficult in which to homeschool. In addition to notification and progress evaluation, you also may be required to use approved curricula, have a teaching credential, or submit to home visits by state officials.
Caution. Even if you live in a state that has the least or minimal levels of regulation regarding homeschooling, you still need to be aware of and document your compliance with these general requirements. Should your homeschool be challenged legally, you must be able to demonstrate that you do meet whatever regulations have been established – even if you aren't required to do so formally under normal conditions.

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Reproduced from Absolute Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling, by Brad Miser, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing. Please visit http://www.informit.com/store/product.aspx?isbn=0789732777 to order your own copy.


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