November 26, 2008

Senate Bill 458: An Act Revising Requirements of County Superintendent of Schools

Senator D. Ryan

Great news! Senate Bill 458 is dead! This bill would have required homeschoolers to register with the county superintendent and would have imposed an unreasonable deadline for doing so. Late in the evening on February 23, Senator Don Ryan, the bill’s sponsor, attempted to get the full Senate to override the Senate Education Committee’s decision to table the bill. His motion failed with a vote of 10 yeas to 39 nays.

Congratulations to all of the homeschooling families in Montana on the defeat of this legislation which threatened your freedoms. Your calls and attendance at the hearing on the bill made a tremendous impact. Special thanks go to Steve White and other members of the Montana Coalition of Home Educators for organizing the demonstration at the Capitol and testimony before the Senate Education Committee.

This bill would have required homeschool students to register with the county superintendent the same as public school students. According to the language of the bill, the deadline for registration would have been at least seven days before the beginning of the school district’s fiscal year on July 1. This means that families would have had to register their children by June 23 of each year. Presumably, county superintendents would have been able to deny any family the right to homeschool if they missed the deadline.

Equally if not more threatening to homeschooling in Montana was the registration requirement itself. Current law requires homeschools to simply notify the county superintendent of student’s attendance at the homeschool. By registering the homeschool students with the county superintendent, they arguably become enrolled in the school district as public school students. This would have entitled the school district to receive the same amount of state funds for a homeschool student as for a regular public school student, even though the school district was providing no services to the homeschool student. This would have been a huge rip-off to the taxpayers of Montana. Even more significant, if homeschool students become public school students, it would have destroyed homeschooling in Montana by subjecting homeschool students to whatever requirements the public schools impose on them, such as approved curriculum and standardized testing.

2/12/2007 Introduced, First Reading, and Referred to Senate Education Committee
2/19/2007 Senate Education Committee hearing
2/19/2007 Committee vote 8-1 to table the bill
2/23/2007 Motion to “blast” bill from Committee fails in Senate
4/27/2007 Bill died when the Senate adjourned

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposes this legislation.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

 Other Resources

Bill Text ( requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History