HOME SCHOOLING PARENTS v. CPS
Truancy laws are very often used by CPS so its a good idea to be familiar with what could happen.
If you are homeschooling in Texas, it might be a good idea to be familiar with what you could be up against when it comes to CPS and your child’s education. Many home schoolers find themselves being accused of truancy when they are being schooled at home.
So before you find yourself being charged with Parental Failure to Abide by the Compulsory Attendance Laws, followed by Neglectful Supervision, here’s a FAQ sheet on DEALING WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.
This article is reprinted from the Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers published by the Texas Home School Coalition Association and may be copied only in its entirety, including this paragraph of credit and information. The Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers is a manual for home educators in Texas that includes information about where to find curricula; the laws in Texas; the how-to’s of home schooling; graduation; national, state, regional, and local organizations; and samples of letters referenced in this article. It can be purchased from the Texas Home School Coalition Association at PO Box 6747, Lubbock, TX 79493, for $20 (includes tax and shipping). For more information, contact the THSC Association at (806) 744-4441, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.thsc.org.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS when dealing with the school district.
I have decided to home school. What do I need to do? My child is enrolled in public school.
The first thing you need to do is obtain a curriculum. It is wise to find a local support group to help you set up your school.
Although you are not legally required to contact the school district, chances are very high that you will receive a visit from an attendance officer if you simply remove your child. Therefore, once you have a curriculum in hand, write the principal of the school your child attends and tell him that you are withdrawing your child to teach him at home. If the school contacts you and says that you must do more (come to the central office, fill out a form, or something else along those lines), do not go to the school. Your reply should be that if they will provide their request to you in writing, you will be glad to respond. If you receive a request of any kind, you are only required to give them a simple letter of assurance.
How many days per year must we have school?
The Texas Education Code requires that public schools meet 180 days per year; public school students must attend 170 days/year. This applies to public schools only. Home schools in Texas are private schools and the state of Texas does not regulate the number of days per year that private schools must be in session or the number of days a student must attend.
How many hours a day must we conduct school?
Home schools in Texas are private schools and are not regulated by the state. No minimum hours are required. You will probably find that your student can accomplish more work in the same period of time than public school child if for no other reason than because of not having to stand in line, wait for roll call, and the like.
May someone else homeschool my child?
Yes. Home schools in Texas have been determined by the Texas Supreme Court to be private schools. Private schools are not regulated by the state of Texas. There are no requirements such as teacher certification or curriculum approval. The ruling of the Leeper case states that a parent “or one standing in parental authority” may educate a child. However, if a person is teaching more than three students outside her family, she may encounter problems with local zoning ordinances, and the state may require that she be licensed for childcare.
May my child participate in classes at the public school?
That is a local school decision. It is possible for a public school to allow this, but it is not likely at this time. The rules are somewhat different for special needs students; check with your local district.
May my child participate in extracurricular activities at the public school?
At this time, a local public school could allow your child to play in the band or other such activities; however, he would not be able to take part in events sponsored by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) such as athletic competitions or band and choir contests.
What is the compulsory school age requirement?
A child who is age six as of September 1 of the current school year must be enrolled in school until his eighteenth birthday, unless he has graduated. 16. What about testing my child? Although the state of Texas does not require testing of private school students, many home school parents do give their children annual tests using nationally-normed achievement tests.
May my child go out in public during the day? What if someone questions him about why he is not in school?
Home schools in Texas are private schools. Home school parents are law-abiding citizens and should not feel the need to hide their children during the day. If someone asks you or your child why he is not in school, you should respond that you home educate and that you have already accomplished your work for the day or that you are on a school field trip. You should be aware that if your children are seen during public school hours you will generate questions. If your child is in public without you and your city has a daytime curfew, you could encounter difficulties.
What happens if my child wants to enter or re-enter public school?
School districts set the requirements for enrollment in their schools. This is a local decision–not one made by the state of Texas. You should check with the local school district concerning its policy regarding accepting unaccredited private school students.
What is required for graduation?
Home schools in Texas are private schools and not regulated by the state; therefore, just as with other private schools, home schools set their own graduation standards. There is no minimum age requirement for graduation.
How can my child receive a diploma?
When a student meets the requirements set by his school for graduation (see question #19), he may receive a diploma. Diplomas may be ordered from the Texas Home School Coalition Association and other sources.
What if I work?
Remember that home schools are private schools and there is no requirement for hours or the time when education must take place. The only requirement is that a written curriculum covering the basic areas (see question #3) must be pursued in a bona fide (not a sham) manner. Consequently, one could work and teach his child as well. While this would be difficult and take some discipline, it is certainly possible and legal.
- Is there a recurring theme here?
The answer is “yes”! Home schools in Texas are private schools. Private schools in Texas are not regulated. Therefore, home schools in Texas are not regulated. Keep this thought central in your mind when dealing with those who want to regulate or restrict your freedom to teach your children.