September 12, 2007

Virtual Charter School Enrollment

On April 27, 2006, Georgia amended its Charter Schools Act of 1998 to provide that schools could implement “the use of computer and internet based instruction for students in a virtual or remote setting.” As a result, parents desiring to have their children receive instruction at home may enroll them in a virtual charter school program. However, it is important to note that enrollment in a virtual charter school is a far cry from traditional homeschooling in Georgia.

Charter schools in Georgia are public schools, regardless of whether the student receives instruction at the school’s campus or in the student’s home. For students enrolled in a virtual charter school program, a state-certified teacher is assigned to each student and directs the student’s education. The role of the parent is to coach the child through the instructional process. While these schools permit individualized learning and flexibility in pace, schedule, and learning styles, they also come with the structure, administrative oversight, accountability, and state testing requirements associated with all public schools.

One of the requirements of charter schools under Georgia law is that they must be subject to “all laws relating to unlawful conduct in or near a public school.” This raises the question of whether families enrolled in virtual charter school programs are permitted to possess firearms in the home and conduct religious activities during the time the instruction is taking place.

Since charter schools are public schools, parents choosing this educational option are not eligible for membership in HSLDA.