November 14, 2011

Coffee County Wants Proof of Enrollment

Over the past three weeks Home School Legal Defense Association has assisted five member families in Coffee County after they received a letter from the director of attendance at the board of education. In each instance, the families were asked to provide the attendance officer with a “proof of enrollment” in either a public or non-public school. HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black responded on behalf of each family and informed the official that state law does not require parents to provide any such documentation to public school officials.

Parents electing to conduct a home school under the oversight of the local school district in compliance with subsection (b) of Section 49-6-3050 of Tennessee Code Annotated are required to “[p]rovide annual notice to the local director of schools prior to each school year of the parent-teacher’s intent to conduct a home school …." But no such requirement exists for any of the other home schooling options under this statute or when a child is enrolled in a different type of non-public school. None of the families who received a letter from the attendance officer were home schooling through the school district.

If a school district has a legitimate basis to question whether a family is in compliance with the compulsory attendance law, HSLDA recommends that the family reply to an inquiry and provide the district with proof of enrollment in a school. However, public school officials have no right under the law to require all parents to provide such proof as a matter of routine. Any such practice would create an unfavorable and burdensome precedent, the violation of which could lead to unwarranted truancy charges the family would have to defend.