November 18, 2005
Church School Requirements for Home Instruction

From time to time, Home School Legal Defense Association is contacted by homeschooling families or administrators of church schools seeking information about the authority of church schools to impose various requirements on families conducting home instruction through the church school. Alabama state law does not prescribe any particulars about the relationship between the church school and its students. The applicable statute, § 16-28-1(2) of the Code of Alabama, defines a church school as follows:

Includes only such schools as offer instruction in grades K–12, or any combination thereof including the kindergarten, elementary, or secondary level and are operated as a ministry of a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or association of churches on a nonprofit basis which do not receive any state or federal funding.

Thus, state law only requires that the church school offer instruction at certain grade levels, be a ministry of one of the types of religious organizations named, and not receive any government money.

Church schools are free to establish whatever standards and requirements they deem appropriate for students who seek to enroll. This would include such things as keeping and submitting attendance records, testing or other methods of evaluating a student’s academic progress, and participation in various activities conducted by the church school. Parents who disagree with any such requirements may simply choose another school more compatible with their educational philosophy.