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South Dakota

March 28, 2017

Goodbye “Application.”  Hello “Notice.”

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SCOTT WOODRUFF
Contact attorney for South Dakota

On March 6, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a bill that HSLDA supported into law, changing the annual “application for excuse” that homeschool families file to a “notification.”

Here is some background. Up until 2011, South Dakota homeschooling families were required to file on behalf of their students an “application for excuse” from school attendance. The children were not actually excused from attendance until the school board acted on the "application."

But HSLDA noticed some school boards improperly delaying action on these applications. This put families at risk of being charged with truancy.

Teaming up with South Dakota Christian Home Educators, HSLDA sought legislation in 2011 to get school boards out of the business of “approving” homeschooling families. The South Dakota Department of Education supported the concept of removing approval, but did not want the phrase “application for excuse” removed. When the legislation was enacted, it prohibited school boards from playing games by delaying a family’s paperwork. (Read more here.)  

But the annual paperwork was still called an “application,” even though it was not actually an application in any meaningful sense of the word since families were no longer asking for anything.  It became in effect—but not in name—a notice.

The measure Governor Daugaard signed into law, House Bill 1122, has finally cleaned up that last item of unfinished business left over from 2011. Now the South Dakota laws call the annual document a “notification.” This new label won’t change what families actually do this coming school year, but it is a welcome change in tone.

If you have an opportunity, please express your appreciation to following lawmakers who stepped up to initiate this improvement:

  • Representatives Sue Peterson, Thomas Brunner, Drew Dennert, Don Haggar, Taffy Howard, and Greg Jamison
  • Senators Joshua Klumb, Justin Cronin, Phil Jensen and Jim Stalzer

Brunner, Haggar, and Jensen were also sponsors of the bill that removed the power of school boards to “approve” home school families in 2011.

You can contact these legislators here.