March 5, 2010

Intermediate School District Seeks Completion of Form

Home School Legal Defense Association assisted a member family at the beginning of the spring semester after they had been requested by the truancy/attendance officer of the Kent Intermediate School District to complete and return a Declaration of Home Schooling form. The form in question was a three-page document by which the family was expected to declare the homeschool option selected by the parents and provide the name, date of birth and grade level of each child being homeschooled; the home, work, and cell telephone numbers of the parents; and their email address. HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black replied on behalf of the family by sending a letter to the school official informing him that completion of this form is not required by state law.

HSLDA recommends that homeschooling families respond to inquiries from state officials about their compliance with the compulsory attendance law. Parents should reply to such inquiries by sending the school official a letter stating that the child in question is being taught in a home education program, a nonpublic school, or a combination of both of these. The objection to the inquiry by Kent Intermediate School District is that it seeks to have all homeschooling parents complete the Declaration of Home Schooling form as a matter of routine, without regard to whether there is any question of their compliance with the compulsory attendance law. There is simply no legal authority for this practice.

Section 388.555 of Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated authorizes the superintendent of public instruction to request and obtain certain information from nonpublic schools, including homeschools operating as nonpublic schools. This information includes enrollment of pupils, courses of study, and the qualifications of the school’s teachers. The Michigan Department of Education presently uses a form entitled Nonpublic School Membership Report, also known as Form SM-4325, to request information about nonpublic schools based on the authority of Section 388.555. Typically, once the Department of Education receives information that the school exists, a Form SM-4325 is sent to the school each year requesting all of the information authorized by section 388.555, in addition to other unauthorized information. The information sought in the form but not authorized by the statute includes the following: how many special education students and part-time students are in the school and the school's telephone number. HSLDA recommends that home schooling families operating as nonpublic schools provide the information on this form required by state law. This is the only form in use that has any legal basis.

HSLDA member families encountering difficulties with school officials about completion of forms or information sought about their homeschooling should contact us for assistance.