Proposed regs for statewide correspondence programs
Parents in Alaska have several options for complying with the compulsory attendance law for their school-age children. One option is enrollment in a full-time program of correspondence study approved by the state.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has recently proposed new regulations governing state-approved correspondence programs. If adopted, these regulations would affect programs such as the Interior Distance Education of Alaska (IDEA) operated by the Galena School District.
The proposal specifies that "program staff, including certified teachers, shall not provide instruction using religious, partisan, sectarian or denominational curricula purchased privately by the parent, guardian of the student, or by the student if the curricula teach particular religious beliefs, or a particular religion, as true." It is unclear whether parents would be considered staff under the regulation. The proposed regulations also prohibit use of public funds for purchase of religious materials. According to the department, a public meeting was scheduled on this proposed regulation in Juneau for the end of March.
While state-approved correspondence programs allow students to learn in a home setting, children enrolled in such programs are considered public school students. Therefore, these programs are nothing more than public school at home. As home school advocates, Home School Legal Defense Association believes that home schooling is the best educational option for children, although we recognize the right of parents to choose other educational alternatives for their children. Families who utilize this option are not eligible for HSLDA membership. We require that the majority of the instruction be conducted as a home school. In Alaska, this means a child who "is being educated in the child's home by a parent or legal guardian" under
§ 14.30.010(b)(12) of the Alaska Statutes.
- Dewitt T. Black