September 20, 2012

Shelby County Creates Private Tutor Requirements

Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Alabama. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

One of the options for complying with Alabama’s compulsory attendance law is for a child to be instructed by a private tutor. The tutor must be a state-certified teacher, must teach the subjects taught in the public schools, and must teach at least three hours a day for 140 days each year between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

When a Home School Legal Defense Association member in Shelby County notified school officials that she intended to teach her son as a private tutor this year, she was surprised to learn about all of the requirements for doing so. According to the student services supervisor at the public school, the mother had to submit a copy of her teaching certificate at the beginning of the school term and then submit reports at the end of each of the school semesters. These reports were supposed to include daily lesson plans showing content taught, an attendance register, and student grades in each subject.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the school official and cited § 16-28-5 of the Alabama Code, which says that the private tutor is required to submit to the local superintendent “a statement showing the child or children to be instructed, the subjects to be taught and the period of time such instruction is proposed to be given. Such tutor shall keep a register of work, showing daily the hours used for instruction and the presence or absence of any child being instructed and shall make such reports as the State Board of Education may require.” Section 16-28-8 of the Code also authorizes local public school authorities to require reports. But as Black pointed out, any reports that may be required by the State Board of Education or local authorities must relate to the register showing the daily hours of instruction and the attendance of the child being taught.

What is abundantly clear is that state law does not require a private tutor to submit a copy of his teaching certificate to the local school officials, does not require that a tutor maintain and report daily lesson plans, and does not require a tutor to report student grades to public school officials.