Homeschooling and the Law

Her first bound book
Homeschooling is totally within the legal requirements for education.

One thing which parents considering homeschooling their children worry about is if there will be any legal impositions on this practice. They worry that homeschooling will require them to go through a lengthy certification process or that it is outright illegal. Depending on location, there may be some restrictions, but for the most part the worry is larger than the actual problem.

The Constitution is silent on the subject of education and the U.S. Department of Education has a hand in laws pertaining to schooling. Largely though, any laws on homeschooling are state-by-state.

While legal in every state, homeschooling is more tightly regulated in some than in others. For instance, Texas and Idaho have few restrictions on the practice, while New York and Massachusetts are more closely regulated. These states mandate that curricula be submitted for state approval and may engage in home inspections. In Pennsylvania, teaching materials used must be reviewed by the local school district.

There are cases working their way through the court system which are intended to keep states from expanding their powers to inspect home schools or require public schooling for children. Many of these efforts were defeated in 2006; most homeschooling parents don’t have to worry, however, as decisions have tended to go in their favor.

The 1925 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters proclaimed that education was the duty (and more importantly, the right) of parents rather than of the state. Another case, this one regarding visitation; 2000’s Troxel v. Granville, reaffirmed these rights.

In 1983, a group was founded to advocate for the rights of parents to homeschool their children. The Home School Legal Defense Association or HSLDA ( watches legal matters in the arena of homeschooling and acts as a clearinghouse for this information. They publish an annual report on legislation related to this topic.

By and large, courts continue to come down on the side of parents, despite efforts by state governments and the federal government.

There have been rare cases of social workers seeking to protect children from homeschooling parents. They sometimes intervene even in cases where there is no evidence of abuse. This is an area in which the HSLDA is particularly active.

Parents who are looking into homeschooling for their children should first research the legal requirements, restrictions and supervisory regulations regarding the practice in their state. In homeschooling, the first lesson is for the parents.

Creative Commons License photo credit: mia3mom

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  1. patti langrehr says:

    i wanted to know if you had any information pertaining to having twins in the same class at a public school. a friend of mine said that there was a law but i cant seem to find it