March 5, 2008
Superintendent Says ‘No’ to Homeschooling

At the beginning of the spring semester of the 2007-2008 school year, a mother decided to withdraw her daughter from Hardin County Schools and teach her at home through the extension program of a church-related school, Gateway Christian Schools in Memphis. But the local public school superintendent refused to permit the mother to withdraw her child from public school, telling the mother that she was not permitted to conduct a home instruction program for her.

After reporting her problem to Home School Legal Defense Association, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote a letter to the superintendent explaining the law to him. Tennessee law requires the notice of intent to homeschool to be filed by August 1 each year. A late fee of $20 per week will be assessed until a final, drop-dead deadline of September 1. The law then allows a superintendent to reject a notice of intent to homeschool not filed by September 1, including situations when the parents decide to withdraw their child from public school during the school year. The deadline does not apply to parents beginning to homeschool at any time by associating by a church-related school. The deadline also does not apply to situations in which the parent withdraws the child from public school for enrollment in the extension program of a church-related school. After receiving Black’s letter with this information, the superintendent changed his position and permitted the mother to withdraw her daughter and begin the home instruction program in January.

Families encountering these kinds of obstacles imposed by public school officials to homeschooling should contact HSLDA for assistance. There is a legal way to begin home instruction in Tennessee at any time during the school year period.