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Georgia

January 22, 2009

Homeschoolers Denied Access to Joint Enrollment Program

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has a policy which effectively denies homeschool students the opportunity to participate in the college joint enrollment program. This program permits a high school junior or senior to continue in high school and also enroll in courses for college credit. Unfortunately, the current policy requires that the student be enrolled in an accredited high school in order to be eligible for the joint enrollment program. The means of obtaining accreditation for home study programs is expensive and contrary to the fundamental principle of homeschooling—parental control.

For several years, the policy handbook of the Board of Regents has contained a provision that all students participating in the joint enrollment program must be enrolled in an accredited school. However, until recently, colleges have been accepting homeschool students into the program even though their home study programs were not accredited. What is needed now is a change in the policy so that homeschoolers may once again participate in the joint enrollment program without being enrolled in an accredited school.

The current policy provides an avenue for home study programs to be accredited using Accredited Centers for Independent Study. These are schools accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Independent Study (ACIS) in which parents may enroll their children and thereby meet the accreditation requirement for the joint enrollment program. The problem is that the expense of enrollment in the ACIS school is often prohibitive, and parents lose control over their children’s instructional program. Parents should not have to eviscerate their home study program in order to qualify their high school students for the joint enrollment program.

A glaring inconsistency in the application of this state policy occurred when the Clayton County School System lost its accreditation on September 1, 2008. The Board of Regents immediately waived the requirement that students in that public school system be enrolled in an accredited school in order to be eligible for college admission, including participation in the joint enrollment program. By permitting public school students in unaccredited schools to participate in the joint enrollment program while denying homeschool students the same benefit, the Board of Regents revealed its prejudice against home study programs.

Home School Legal Defense Association member families are encouraged to contact the Board of Regents and Governor Sonny Perdue and urge them to correct this inequitable policy. Students in home study programs should be afforded the same opportunity to participate in the joint enrollment program as other students.