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Tennessee

September 12, 2007
Trouble in Cumberland County

In July of this year, an official with the Cumberland County Board of Education sent a letter to homeschooling parents describing a procedure to follow in transferring their children a from homeschool not associated with a church-related school to a homeschool associated with a church-related school. The letter stated that parents making this change were required to provide the board of education with a paid receipt from the church-related school before the child would be removed from the school district's homeschool list.

After being contacted by an HSLDA member family affected by this procedure, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote a letter to the school official explaining that the procedure was contrary to state law. In his letter, Black stated:

Regardless of which option is chosen by parents instructing their children at home, they are not required to follow the procedure outlined in your letter. Parents operating “independent” home schools must provide a written notice of intent to the local school district each year, and parents associated with a church-related school must register their children in grades 9 through 12 with the district each year. But there is no presumption that a family is going to continue home schooling every year or any requirement that the family must “withdraw” a child from the local school district if a different educational option is chosen the following year. Home school students are not public school students. If no notice of intent to home school is received by the school district or registration of a student in grades 9 through 12 for students associated with a church-related school, the school district should simply assume that the family is not home schooling that particular year, not that the family is violating the law. Our concern is that children whose parents do not follow your procedure will be considered truant even though they are complying with the compulsory attendance law by some other education option.

To date, our member family has encountered no further difficulty with the public school officials regarding their change to a homeschool associated with a church-related school.