February 27, 2009

New Satellite School Memorandum Available for HSLDA Members

HSLDA recently made a new memorandum available on its Colorado Forms and Other Resources page (a members-only resource). As many of you know, Colorado law has two options for parents who choose to home educate their children. One of these options allows parents to enroll their children in a Colorado “independent school” but teach them at home. The independent or “satellite” school oversees the home education program with no government interference.

However, it is important that the independent schools serving as a covering for these satellite homeschools establish themselves in a legitimate way to protect their enrolled students. Some homeschoolers have become accustomed to these types of schools and have grown lax. HSLDA knows that the legislature could at any time try to amend the law to prohibit satellite schools from operating. Therefore, it is imperative that satellite schools continue to maintain high standards, so it will be difficult for legislators to change the law.

The memorandum, written by HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka, outlines the history of Colorado independent schools, explains the applicable legal requirements, and recommends additional procedures that schools may wish to follow to establish a reputable school.

For example, HSLDA recommends that schools should, at a minimum, do the following:

  • Keep an attendance calendar showing the number of days that each child is schooled;
  • Maintain minimal records, including a list of students and other pertinent information such as birthdays, grade levels, addresses, etc.;
  • Keep on file each student’s immunization records or a statement of sincerely held religious beliefs exempting the child from this requirement;
  • Obtain a signed statement from the parent agreeing that the student will be tested at the end of the school year. (Standardized testing is not required by law under this option, but it is additional evidence of progress and accountability that is beneficial for the school to have.); and
  • Organize and offer field trips.

Optional provisions include but are not limited to:

  • Providing report cards, diplomas, and forms for enrollment;
  • Securing an insurance provider to cover field trips and other activities, organizing teams, contests, and other academic and extracurricular activities and field trips;
  • Creating a letterhead and business cards; and
  • Requiring HSLDA membership to ensure that each family is protect with legal representation if necessary.

If your children are enrolled in a Colorado independent school, or you are operating or planning to operate a school, HSLDA recommends that you review this memorandum. HSLDA members are also encouraged to call our office with any questions.