August 25, 2011

Fayette County Mandates Online Filings

In a June letter to homeschooling families, the Fayette County Board of Education (FCBOE) informed them that monthly attendance records for the 2011–2012 school year had to be submitted online through Infinite Campus, the FCBOE Student Information System. According to the instructions, reporting in this manner would also require the parent to provide an email address and telephone number to the public school officials.

After a Home School Legal Defense Association member family received this letter, they contacted HSLDA for assistance. They did not object to complying with the law by submitting monthly attendance records, but they did object to being required to use the online system and having to provide their email address and telephone number as part of this. Georgia law does not require homeschooling families to submit their email address or telephone number under any circumstances.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote a letter to the author of the letter from FCBOE and reminded her of the provisions of state law as found in Section 20-2-690(c)(6) of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. It states that, “Attendance records for the home study program shall be kept and shall be submitted at the end of each month to the school superintendent of the local school district in which the home study program is located.” Black pointed out that there is no requirement in the statutory language that the attendance records be submitted online. Neither is there any language in the statute that authorizes a local board of education to require only online submission of the records. Because of this, Black said, parents or guardians conducting home study programs may not be compelled to submit the attendance records using the online program.

HSLDA has no objection to the implementation of online reporting methods by school districts. In fact, many homeschooling families may prefer to utilize these methods to more easily submit the monthly attendance records to their local school superintendent. But families who wish to continue paper reporting should be and are entitled to do so. Paper reporting is the method that has been used since Georgia’s homeschool law was enacted in 1984, some 27 years ago. At no time since then has the Georgia General Assembly seen fit to mandate any other method of reporting.

HSLDA member families encountering difficulties with school officials over this issue should contact us for assistance.