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North Dakota

November 29, 2012

DPI Reverses Open Enrollment Position


HSLDA Senior Counsel Dee Black assists members with questions and issues regarding North Dakota homeschool law. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

Last month, Home School Legal Defense Association obtained a favorable result for a family who had been denied the right to have their homeschooled children participate in public school courses and extracurricular activities at a public school outside of their district of residence. The homeschool law expressly recognizes the right of students to participate in such courses and extracurricular activities. Further, North Dakota’s open enrollment law permits students to do so in school districts other than where the family resides.

In this case, the family residing in Northwood sought to have their children enroll in a foreign language course and participate in music activities in Larimore, a different school district. But the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (DPI) squelched the idea by informing the family that open enrollment was only available to students who were “enrolled” in public school, not students in a home education program.

After the member family contacted HSLDA for assistance, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to DPI arguing that any participation in a public school course or extracurricular activity necessarily involves enrollment of the student in public school. Black also pointed out that even DPI’s own Statement of Intent form for homeschoolers includes a section to complete if the student intends to “enroll” in academic courses at the public school. Black’s letter also made note of the fact that the open enrollment law does not exclude homeschool students from eligibility.

In a letter dated November 19, 2012, Matthew Strinden, the director of Teacher and School Effectiveness at DPI, replied to Black’s letter and notified him that after reviewing all issues and relevant information, it was now DPI’s position that homeschool students were eligible to participate in open enrollment.