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No. 5

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Private School “Option”

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the 1987 case Care and Protection of Charles determined that parents could homeschool but had to seek “approval in advance” from the local superintendent. Although most superintendents in Massachusetts have been trained through the years to accept that parents have the prior right to decide how their children will be educated and that parents send letters of intent to notify superintendents that they are homeschooling, Massachusetts still remains one of two states in America that are considered “approval” states. Homeschoolers there have had no other legal option but to seek “approval” through notification.

In South Attleboro, however, Grace Baptist Christian Academy (GBCA) is offering an alternative. As far as Home School Legal Defense Association is aware, GBCA is the only private school in Massachusetts that awards diplomas to homeschoolers. The school seeks to serve homeschooling families with children in grades 7–12 through a range of flexible services, including providing credit for individual courses (taught by the parent, online, through a co-op, and sometimes otherwise), allowing homeschoolers to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, and allowing them to take courses on an á la carte basis from the school’s faculty. Homeschoolers who wish to “enroll” at GBCA can do so through the school’s independent study program by paying a modest fee per course. By doing so, the homeschooler is complying with Massachusetts compulsory attendance law without having to interface with the local superintendent.

A number of other states allow homeschoolers options in complying with the compulsory attendance law, including by enrolling in a private school. For some families this is preferable to having to interact with public school officials. HSLDA encourages parents to carefully consider the pros and cons of such an approach.

— by Michael P. Donnelly