Annual Misinformation Continues
Invariably, school districts in Tennessee publish inaccurate information about home schooling in local newspapers before the beginning of each school year. The 2000-2001 school year is no exception. An example is one article appearing in a Weakley County newspaper stating that all home schooling parents must notify public school officials or register their children with the Weakley County School District by September 1. Parents failing to provide notice or register their children were to have their names published in the local newspaper and be prosecuted for truancy.
Parents conducting a home school which is not associated with a church-related school must notify the local school district of their intent to conduct the home school by August 1 of each school year. However, if the notice is not given by August 1, but is given by September 1, it may be submitted upon payment by the parent of a penalty of $20.00 for each week or portion thereof by which the notice is late. This penalty payment shall not exceed $80.00 and shall be charged per family regardless of the number of children attending the home school. The superintendent has the discretionary authority to waive the September 1 deadline for good and sufficient reasons.
For parents conducting a home school which is associated with a church-related school, there is no provision whatsoever in the home school statute requiring that any notice be given to the local school district. Thus, the August 1 deadline does not apply to these students. However, for those students whose home school is associated with a church-related school and who are in grades 9-12, parents must register them with the local school district. There is no deadline for this registration, although Home School Legal Defense Association is of the opinion that this registration should take place on or about the time the parent begins to conduct the home school each year.
When notified by one of our member families that public school officials in Weakley County were responsible for the inaccurate information appearing in the local newspaper, HSLDA contacted the superintendent and provided him with accurate information about state law. All HSLDA families receiving inaccurate information through the news media from public school officials are encouraged to report this to us. Parents relying upon this type of inaccurate information may believe that state law prohibits them from beginning home schooling at a time they desire to do so. Dewitt T. Black