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South Carolina

June 16, 2004

Senate Bill 988: New Academic Requirements for Obtaining a Driver's License

Author:
Senate Transportation Committee

Summary:
This bill would have required school attendance for any person under 18 who gets a beginner's permit, conditional driver's license, special restricted driver's license, or regular driver's license. This effectively raised the compulsory attendance age from 17 to 18. Additionally, a student in a homeschool would need to be making satisfactory progress in a curriculum leading to a GED in order to get the driver's license. Since no student in a homeschool is in a GED program (which is intended for dropouts), it appeared that no homeschool student could meet this requirement. A student in a curriculum leading to a high school diploma would not have been eligible for a driver's

Status:

02/19/2004Introduced
04/29/2004Senate amended bill and passed to House
05/04/2004Read in House and referred to House Committee on Education and Public Works
05/19/2004Favorable House Committee Report
06/01/2004Referred to House Ways and Means Committee
06/03/2004This bill died when the Legislature adjourned

Requested Action:
None at this time.

HSLDA's Position:
This bill should be opposed.

Background:
This bill was first introduced in the South Carolina Senate on February 19, 2004 and is sponsored by the Transportation Committee. Since that time, HSLDA has worked with state leaders who have contacted key Senators and officials at the Department of Education in an effort to defeat this bill. Since this bill had been placed on the contested calendar, it was thought to be effectively dead for this legislative session. However, to our surprise, the Senate passed this bill on April 29, 2004.

HSLDA has long opposed any legislation which would connect issuance of a driver's license to school attendance. Not only does Senate Bill 988 do this, but it also requires school attendance until age 18. The compulsory attendance law in South Carolina requires attendance until age 17, so this bill would effectively increase the compulsory attendance age from 17 to 18 for all persons who wish to have a driver's license. The only good news in this bill is that current law is kept intact which exempts persons who have a high school diploma or a GED diploma, even though they are not yet 18.

In all likelihood, the intent of the sponsors is to require students to remain in school in pursuit of a high school diploma or GED. Unfortunately, the wording of the bill requires all homeschool students and possibly even public and private school students to be making satisfactory progress in a curriculum leading to the GED diploma. This is completely unacceptable and inappropriate for the vast majority of homeschool students who are working toward a high school diploma. Even language requiring homeschool students to be pursuing a high school diploma would not make this bill acceptable.

The language of the bill requires that the "appropriate school official or homeschool association" provide documentation of enrollment status and academic progress on a form approved by the Department of Education. It is unclear who the "appropriate school official" would be for homeschool programs conducted through the school district, but this could be interpreted to mean the local public school superintendent instead of the parent. Students in the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS) and other homeschool associations would have to be evaluated by these associations.

Currently, the homeschool law does not require such evaluations by these associations, and the bill being considered does not provide standards or guidelines for determining whether a student is making satisfactory progress in a curriculum. Inevitably, school districts and homeschool associations will be applying different standards for satisfactory progress if this bill becomes law. Needless to say, we do not want this bill to be "fixed" by including specific academic standards which must be met by every student before a driver's license could be issued.

 Other Resources

June-10-2004 - Driver's License Bill is Dead

May-19-2004 - Committee Action on Driver's License Bill

May-12-2004 - Update on Driver's License Bill

May-10-2004 - Calls Needed to House Committee - Back Door Attack on Homeschooling

Bill Text

Bill History