Legislative Action

In recent years, a number of states have chosen to address this problem through their legislatures. Oregon, Idaho, and Florida have enacted laws allowing children educated at home to take part in what is offered by the public schools. Each of these states places conditions on these statutory provisions which may require submission to a greater degree of oversight and monitoring than home school students and parents would experience otherwise. For example, a student may have to submit additional documentation to prove to the satisfaction of local school officials that the state home school regulations are being followed. They may also have to obtain a designated minimum score on a standardized test considered credible by that state as well as to satisfy all the district eligibility and other requirements governing the behavior and performance expected of students enrolled full-time in public schools.

What is unique about the Florida statute is that it openly recognizes a state interest in the participation in public school programs and activities of students educated at home. This is significant because the outcome of many court cases involving children educated at home turns on the view of the courts as to whether the rights of these children are outweighed by the interests of the state in public education. Because these statutes have been passed only recently, it is difficult to assess their impact. However, making participation an interest of the state may result in less opposition to the presence of students who are not enrolled full-time.

Other jurisdictions, such as Maine, provide for access to the public school by children educated at home by obtaining approval from the local school superintendent. The decision to allow a home school student to participate will continue to be made on a case-by-case basis. However, the Maine statute and others similar to it require the superintendent not to make these decisions arbitrarily.

Inside Legislative Action