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January 4, 2013

Sioux Falls Invents Deadline for Assessments, Threatens Violators


Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in South Dakota. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

In February of 2012, the Sioux Falls school district sent letters to homeschool families threatening to ask the State Department of Education to investigate them if they did not file their annual assessment for grades 2, 4, 8 and 11 by August 1. But there was a problem with this demand: August 1 is not the deadline.

Matters related to South Dakota homeschooling are governed by state statutes. State statutes, however, do not set a separate deadline for filing assessments in the years in which they are due.

There is no disadvantage in filing early, of course. But the deadline that matters is the first day of public school locally. That is the date by which students must be in compliance with compulsory attendance law. So it is important that homeschool families’ exemption paperwork and the assessment, if due, be filed by then.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff wrote to the assistant superintendent who had signed the letter and explained that no such thing existed as an August 1 deadline. Thereafter no families (to our knowledge) were reported to the Department of Education, even if they filed their assessment after August 1.

Sioux Falls is currently considering making changes to their annual testing letter based on Woodruff’s correspondence.