April 14, 2004

Army Recruiter Seeks State Evidence of Homeschool Graduation

After Dan (name changed) finished his high school program through homeschooling, he set his sights on the United States Army. His obstacle course began before his first day of boot camp, however.

Army policy concerning enlistment of homeschool graduates is contained in a fourteen-paragraph armed forces memo known as "USA REC MSG 03-128". HSLDA was involved in working with the Army Recruiting Command to help develop the policy. As a result, HSLDA is very familiar with the intent behind the policy.

Paragraph 6a says that in states that require parents to file a notice of homeschooling, the family must provide the Army with a copy of the notice signed by a local or state school official. Paragraph 6b says that in states where homeschoolers are not required to file a notice, the family only needs to provide a copy of the diploma signed by a parent to substantiate the fact that the student has graduated.

HSLDA sent a letter to the recruitment Staff Sergeant working with Dan explaining that the family was in compliance with Virginia law. He responded and said that our letter was not sufficient to verify Dan's graduation. He said Dan's diploma would not be acceptable unless the state of Virginia or the local school board signed it.

HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff called the Staff Sergeant. When Woodruff explained that Dan's parents homeschooled him under the religious exemption statute, and explained how this operates, he dropped his request that a public school official sign his diploma.

He then questioned whether the curriculum Dan's parents followed was adequate.

Paragraph 8 of the armed forces memo states that, "The curriculum used must involve parental instruction and supervision and will closely pattern the normal credit hours per subject as used in the traditional high schools." The Staff Sergeant initially believed that this meant that a homeschool student's program must include the same courses that are taught at the local public school. Woodruff explained that this is not the case and pointed out that Dan's curriculum was very solid, including plenty of math, English, science, foreign language, and social studies.

This satisfied the Staff Sergeant's objection. Dan will be serving his country in the United States Army very soon!