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Mobile County Adds to Private Tutor Requirements

Since the beginning of the 1994-95 school year, three Home School Legal Defense Association member families residing in Mobile County, Alabama, have encountered difficulties with local public school officials. Each of the families home school under the private tutor provisions of state law. Conflict arose when the officials attempted to impose more requirements on the families than are provided in the law.

Alabama private tutor law requires the following:

  • Private tutors must offer instruction in the subjects required to be taught in the public schools of Alabama for at least three hours a day for 140 days each calendar year between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., using the English language in giving instruction.
  • Prior to beginning the instruction of a child, a private tutor must file with the county superintendent of education or the city superintendent of schools a statement naming the children to be instructed, the subjects to be taught and the period of time the instruction is proposed to be given.
  • Tutors are required to keep a register of work showing the hours used for instruction each day and the presences or absences of any child being instructed.
  • Private tutors are also required to make reports to public school officials as the State Board of Education may require.

Although the Alabama private tutor law makes it clear that parents have a right to choose this option in educating their children, the Mobile County public school officials treat this right more as a privilege. The school officials have developed an application process for parents, stating that "it is imperative that proper procedures have been followed in order to avoid a court referral."

During the time parents are seeking "approval" to conduct instruction as a private tutor, they are expected to enroll their children in the public school. Additionally, parents are required to submit a letter to the superintendent giving the reasons for the "request" to conduct home education as a private tutor.

HSLDA attorney Dewitt Black has corresponded with the Superintendent for Mobile County on behalf of our member families, pointing out that none of the local procedures are authorized by state law. To date, none of the HSLDA member families who contacted us concerning their problems with the school district have been required to comply with these burdensome procedures.