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Compliance with State Guidelines Not Mandatory
Every year, Home School Legal Defense Association assists member families in Connecticut whose school districts insist that they comply with guidelines for home instruction adopted by the Connecticut State Board of Education on November 7, 1990. These guidelines include the filing of a notice of intent with the local school district and a portfolio review at the end of the school year. Because these guidelines are not law, parents may not be compelled to comply with them.
Section 10-184 of Connecticut General Statutes Annotated requires a parent to send a school-age child to public school unless the parent “. . . is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.” A parent choosing an educational option other than public school for a child is not required by this statute to take the initiative to show public school officials that the child is receiving equivalent instruction. Instead, the parent must be able to show that the child is receiving equivalent instruction in the defense of any court proceeding in which the sufficiency of the instruction is being challenged. Any such court proceedings should not be initiated unless there is credible evidence that the parent is failing to provide equivalent instruction. The mere fact that a child is not enrolled in public school does not indicate that the child is not receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.
The State Department of Education deems compliance with the guidelines adopted 15 years ago as satisfying the equivalency requirements of § 10-184. HSLDA was involved in the drafting of the guidelines, working closely with the Education Association of Christian Homes (TEACH) and others to get the most favorable end product. We continue to recommend that our member families voluntarily comply with the guidelines. Parents not complying with the guidelines should be able to show that the child is “elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction” under § 10-184. What constitutes “equivalent instruction” apart from following the guidelines raises difficult legal questions.