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September 19, 2017

County’s Homeschool Instructions Miss the Mark

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DAN BEASLEY
Contact attorney for Montana

The Jefferson County superintendent of schools has updated the county website to include some basic information about homeschooling. Unfortunately, some of the information is misleading.

While well-intentioned, the update could easily cause confusion because it indicates that homeschooling parents must use the county’s homeschool notification form and submit at the end of each semester a daily log of hours spent homeschooling.

I am writing to clarify what is actually required by Montana law.

The website’s homeschooling information section (posted here) directs homeschoolers to complete and return three forms to the superintendent’s office, one of which is a homeschool notification form. Montana law does require homeschooling parents to annually notify the county superintendent of schools of students in their homeschool. There is, however, no legal requirement to use any particular form. For convenience, we provide a form for HSLDA members, which can be accessed here.

The post also states that the daily log of hours spent homeschooling must be turned in each semester. As you may know, homeschools are required by law to maintain attendance records, which must be made available for inspection by the superintendent upon request. Absent a request to inspect attendance records, however, parents are not required by law to submit these records to the superintendent.

The third form listed on the website is a “Federal Opportunity to Participate Form.” Parents who wish to participate in any federally funded programs, must complete and return this form. There is a box parents may use to indicate that they do not wish to participate in these federal programs. While not mandated by law, returning this form lets the district know that you are aware of what is offered but don’t want to participate.

I trust that the superintendent’s update was well-intentioned, and I encourage you to seek a friendly, working relationship with local school officials. I have written the superintendent regarding the information that differs slightly from what Montana law requires. Hopefully, this email will provide you with clarity on what is required by law.

Should you have any questions about homeschooling in Montana, please contact HSLDA.