Originally Sent: 8/4/2014

From the HSLDA e-lert service…
Home School Legal Defense Association

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Changes to Utah’s Homeschool Law

Homeschooling in Utah.

Thanks for supporting homeschool freedom.

Staff Attorney Peter K. Kamakawiwoole, Jr. answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year! As you begin planning the year’s lessons and your kids begin opening their new textbooks, we at HSLDA want to update you on legal changes to Utah’s homeschool notification option.

Utah families may homeschool if they file an affidavit with their local school district. This spring the Utah Legislature passed Senate Bill 39 into law, changing Utah’s affidavit provisions. These changes do not affect families who enroll their children in private schools, even if those schools offer an umbrella option for family-directed at-home instruction.

For homeschoolers who file their notification of intent, SB 39 instituted several positive changes. Specifically, the law strikes an excellent balance of retaining the key freedom elements of Utah’s homeschool statute (notice, not approval; parental control over curriculum; available exemptions for part-time work, early graduation, etc.), while also making the process less burdensome and making additional assessment information available at the parent’s request:

1. It changes the homeschool exemption process from an annual process (every year), to an initial affidavit that remains in effect as long as the child remains homeschooled and continues to reside in the school district (if the child moves to another district, another affidavit is filed with the new district, and would then remain in effect until the child is no longer homeschooled or moves again). Parents homeschooling under the notification option do need to file their affidavit again this school year;

2. It removes the requirement that homeschool students receive instruction in all subjects required by the state Board of Education;

3. It removes the requirement that homeschool student meet the hours of study requirement. Under SB39, the parent assumes the responsibility for the child’s educational program;

4. It retains the guarantees that homeschool parents are solely responsible for textbooks, time/place/method of instruction, and the evaluation of the homeschool instruction;

5. It maintains the annual exemption for school-age minors if they have completed sufficient coursework to graduate from high school;

6. Even though the parents make only one filing, SB 39 retains the practice of the school district sending an annual certificate of excuse to the parents; and

7. If the parent requests, it requires the state to “identify the knowledge, skills and competencies” that students are recommended to obtain in order to achieve college and career readiness.

In addition, the law also adds a new provision to Utah law to cover the process of placing students who were formerly homeschooled back into the public school setting (a situation which is more common as homeschoolers move into high school). State-level direction from the legislature on this topic is usually more helpful than harmful, as it prevents local districts from implementing their own varying standards which may unfairly discriminate against or penalize homeschooled students.

Here, in particular, the process is particularly fair and balanced, with both the parents and the school administrators having a say in the placement. If the school disagrees with the parent’s placement decision, the disagreement is resolved by having the child evaluated through either the public school’s standard assessment, or a private assessment chosen by the parent. The choice of evaluation method (public or private) is ultimately chosen by the parent, not the school.

Although HSLDA was not involved in the drafting or promotion of this bill in the legislature, we are pleased that the legislature has so warmly embraced these positive changes to the homeschooling law, while also retaining the elements of Utah law that have been a bulwark of homeschool freedom for many years.

Please contact our office by phone at 540-338-5600 or by email at legalg@hslda.org if you have questions as you start the new school year!

Standing with you for Freedom,

Peter K. Kamakawiwoole, Jr.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

P.S. We greatly value you and your support—t is a privilege to serve you! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>

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Home School Legal Defense Association • P.O. Box 3000 • Purcellville, Virginia 20134-9000
Phone: (540) 338-5600 • Fax: (540) 338-2733 • Email: info@hslda.org
Web: http://www.hslda.org

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