North Carolina Enacts Home School Law
On June 20, 1988, the legislature of North Carolina enacted HB 837 which amended Article 39 of Chapter 115C. By God’s grace, this law continues to protect the constitutional rights of home schoolers which have been enjoyed in North Carolina since the 1985 Supreme Court decision, Delconte v. North Carolina, 329 S.E. 2d 636. Delconte put an end to the prosecution of home schoolers by holding that home schools qualify as private schools under North Carolina law and thus fulfill the compulsory attendance law. The only requirements with which home schoolers had to comply were 1) provide instruction for a nine month school term, 2) keep attendance and immunization records, 3) notify the state of intent to operate a private school, 4) provide instruction in several core subjects, and 5) administer standardized tests to children in grades 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 11.
Furthermore, the new law specifically exempts all requirements “related to safety and sanitation inspections if the school operates in a private residence.”
With the passage of HB 837, the term “home school” is specifically defined as “a nonpublic school in which one or more children of not more than two families or households receive academic instruction from parents or legal guardians or members of either household.” $115C-563. The new law also adds two requirements to home schools in addition to those five requirements listed above. First, the persons providing home instruction “shall hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.” $115C-564. (Documentation of a high school diploma must be submitted to the State Division of Non - Public Education by August 15 or a home school will be terminated.) Secondly, testing must be given on an annual basis. §115C-564.
Although the new law adds two additional requirements, the requirements will not present a hardship for most home schoolers. The most significant aspect of HB 837, is the fact that when it was originally introduced in the summer of 1987, it required home school parents to have a bachelor’s degree, have their curriculum approved by the local school board, and to have the home school undergo a formal review by the board twice a year. Through the combined efforts of home schoolers throughout the state, all of these unconstitutionally restrictive portions of the original HB 837 were defeated and removed from the final act. During last year’s battle, HSLDA’s executive director counseled several North Carolina leaders as they successfully fought the restrictive requirements of this bill.
Michael P. Farris