Difficulties in Pickens County
Ongoing administrative difficulties with public school officials led the administrators of a home school association located in Pickens County to contact Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance. The association asked for clarification of the requirements of §59-65-47 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina. One of the options for home schooling parents to comply with the compulsory attendance law, according to §59-65-47, is membership in an association for home schools having no fewer than 50 members and meeting other requirements specified in the law. In giving counsel to the home school association in Pickens County, HSLDA responded to the following questions:
Q: Does the law require that a home school association under §59-65-47 be registered with the South Carolina Department of Education?
A: The law governing home school associations does not expressly require that these associations be registered with the department of education. However, this statute requires the department to conduct an annual review of the association standards to insure that they meet the minimum statutory requirements. In order for the department to conduct this annual review, it must know of the existence of the home school association. Therefore, it is our opinion that home school associations should notify the department of their existence and mailing address in order for these associations' standards to be reviewed by the department on an annual basis.
Q: Does the law require that a home school association send a letter of verification to a local school district regarding a family's compliance with the law?
A: No. If a local school district has reason to believe that a child is not complying with the compulsory attendance law outside of public school, then the school district may inquire of the parents which educational option has been chosen. In this case, we believe it is appropriate for parents to provide written documentation from the home school association verifying that the family is home schooling under this option. School districts may not add to the law and require that in all cases parents who begin home schooling provide this documentation.
Q: Does the law require prospective home schooling families to provide information to the local school district with respect to teaching hours, curriculum choice, plans for testing, provision for socialization, membership in support groups and/or parents' educational background?
Q: Can school districts prevent parents from withdrawing their own children from school at any time for any reason or prevent them from taking personal property with them?
A: No. As indicated by the questions posed to HSLDA, the public school officials in Pickens County have been attempting to impose requirements on home schooling families beyond what is contained in state law. Any HSLDA member families encountering such difficulties should contact us for assistance.
- Dewitt T. Black