The Home School Court Report
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Compulsory Education Laws: The Dialogue Reopens

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Satellite Programs an Option

According to a February 18, 1999, memorandum from the Tennessee State Department of Education, parents may comply with the state compulsory attendance law by having their children attend a church-related school while the instruction is being provided in the home with the parent as the primary teacher. The state does not consider this home schooling, because the church-related school is not being conducted by parents or legal guardians for their own children. Rather, this school is being operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization as required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-50-801. Under this option, parents do not have to comply with any requirements of the home school law. Instead, the home is designated as a satellite or extension of the church-related school, and the parent becomes a faculty member of the church-related school under the direct supervision of its administration.

Parents interested in utilizing this option should consult with a church-related school offering a satellite program. This option should not be confused with a method of home schooling under Tennessee law whereby the home school is merely associated with the church-related school instead of the home being a satellite of the church-related school. The distinction is important, because a home school merely associating with a church-related school must comply with certain requirements of the home school law, including registration of high school students in the public school and participation in state testing. In the satellite program, the registration and testing requirements do not apply. — Dewitt T. Black