September 15, 2009

Homeschooler Denied Learner’s Permit Documentation

This past summer the Richmond County Board of Education refused to issue a certificate of attendance required for a student in a home study program to obtain a learner’s permit to operate a motor vehicle. The school board’s decision was based on the fact that the parent had not submitted attendance records during the months no instruction was taking place for the child. The school district’s position was that since the months of June and July were included in the 12-month period designated for the family’s school year, the student was out of compliance with the law, even though she had already received 180 days of instruction.

Home study programs in Georgia are governed exclusively by the provisions of Section 20-2-690(c) of The Official Code of Georgia. Home School Legal Defense Association believes that all of the provisions of statutory law must be read together in order to determine the legislative intent and the requirements for parents to submit attendance records to the local school superintendent. Subsection (c)(5) of Section 20-2-690 states that the home study program must provide instruction each 12 months to home study students equivalent to 180 school days of education. Subsection (c)(6) of Section 20-2-690 states that attendance records must be kept and submitted at the end of each month to the local public school superintendent. We do not believe the Georgia General Assembly intended for parents to have to continue to submit attendance records after the 180-day requirement was met. No student in a home study program could be found to be truant after attending school for 180 days in a school year. Further, it is anticipated that home study programs, just like public schools, will have months during the year when school is in recess, usually the summer months.

For the foregoing reasons, it is HSLDA’s opinion that the law governing home study programs does not require parents to continue to submit attendance records after their school term is completed and the 180-day requirement has been met. Perhaps the best approach for a family is to simply indicate on the last attendance record for the year that the 180-day requirement has been met and that no additional attendance records will be submitted until the next school year. It makes no sense for the parents to continue to submit attendance reports after the home study program has completed the school term of 180 days and the student is no longer in attendance. However, HSLDA’s legal analysis may not sway unfriendly school boards from taking an unreasonable position and denying a student’s request for a certificate of attendance. And the problem is that legal action to remedy the injustice may take a much longer time than the family (especially the student) is willing to wait.

In the case of the Richmond Board of Education, it reversed its position and issued the certificate of attendance after receiving a letter from HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black. Other HSLDA member families encountering such difficulties are encouraged to contact us for assistance.