Legal FAQs



Homeschool Law

You can find homeschool laws for all 50 states and US territories on our interactive legal map. It provides detailed information about how to homeschool legally in your state, how to withdraw your child from public school, and more.

If you’re an HSLDA member, you can also use our state-specific forms and documents to simplify any homeschool paperwork you may have. Scroll down to the bottom of your state legal page to find your state-specific forms.

Generally, yes. The Constitution protects the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children, which includes the right to privately teach one’s own children instead of sending them to public schools. That said, you should follow two basic steps when you decide to homeschool your child.

First, you need to comply with any legal requirements to set up your homeschool program. You can find homeschool laws (including any requirements to get started) for all 50 states and US territories on our interactive legal map. HSLDA members can also contact their state’s legal team with any questions about starting a homeschool program.

Second, if your child was previously enrolled in another school (whether public or private), you should formally withdraw your student from that school when you begin your homeschool program.

For more information about withdrawing, read our "How do I withdraw my child from public or private school?" FAQ.

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered as enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter, any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts for your personal records.

Note that local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures, especially if you are withdrawing midyear (for example, you may have to return school computers or other technology). If you are an HSLDA member, you can contact your state’s legal team for more information about complying with these procedures. HSLDA members can also use one of our sample letters of withdrawal to correspond with school officials. You can find the sample withdrawal form for your state through our interactive legal map.

You should follow the law of the state in which you are physically present. This is true even if your legal residency is in another state and you are only living elsewhere temporarily (such as if you are an active member of the military completing a temporary assignment). This is because when you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws—and often to the jurisdiction of its courts.

If you will be living in another state longer than a month while that state’s public schools are in session, HSLDA generally recommends that you comply with that state’s homeschool requirements. This general recommendation applies even if you or your spouse pay taxes, own property, or have employment in a different state.

If you’re an HSLDA member, please contact your state's legal team for specific advice about how state home education laws apply in your specific situation.

If your state homeschool law specifies a minimum score or percentile for your child’s required year-end standardized testing and your child doesn’t meet that minimum, please contact your state’s legal team immediately. We will work with you on important next steps to communicate clearly with officials while keeping your child and your homeschool moving forward. 

There are many ways to track your child’s progress, such as report cards, transcripts, work samples, book lists, attendance records, and test scores (just to name a few). For more information on recordkeeping, click here.

Note that some state laws require that certain records be kept. You can find homeschool laws (including any recordkeeping requirements) for all 50 states and US territories on our interactive legal map.

Parents can homeschool their adopted children.

If you are a foster parent, the option of homeschooling may be determined by your caseworker or a juvenile court judge.

No, you don't! While some states have a special homeschooling option for parents who are certified teachers, no state requires that every homeschooling parent be a certified teacher.

In fact, research has found little difference between the academic achievement of homeschooled students whose parents were certified teachers and those whose parents were not. They both scored on average much higher than their counterparts in public school.

However, be aware that some states require homeschool parents to meet certain qualifications (such as having a high school diploma or its equivalent). You can find homeschool laws (including any qualification requirements) for all 50 states and US territories on our interactive legal map.

Yes. And it can be a great option! Whether your child has a physical or mental disability or a specific learning disability, homeschooling may be the best option to help them thrive educationally. You may not be a special education expert, but you are an expert on your child!

Check out your state’s special needs provisions to see regulations that may apply to your homeschool. And please visit our Special Needs page to access free articles and other resources.

Your homeschool program is, by nature, unique and individualized to your child’s needs. As a homeschooling parent, you are not required to follow the individualized education program (IEP) that your child had in public school or to get an IEP from the public school.

However, if your child has had an IEP in the past, the wisest path may be to continue with some or all of the IEP’s elements, using a private provider instead of the public school for services like speech and occupational therapy.

You are free to select any appropriate goals and helpful instructional strategies from your child’s past IEP that you want to use in your child’s new homeschool program. HSLDA encourages parents to draft (and keep in their homeschool files) their own written plan, often referred to as a student education plan (SEP) in the homeschool world.

Want to go deeper? Check out these articles:

The answer depends on the laws of that country, since a country’s education laws apply to all children who reside there, whether or not they are citizens. Start by contacting the HSLDA Global Outreach team at international@hslda.org or 540-338-5600. We have information on homeschooling laws in many countries where such laws exist and insight into the general educational climate in many other countries. Even if homeschooling is not explicitly recognized by a country’s law, it may still be possible to homeschool there. We may also be able to connect you with a homeschooling family or support organization in that country. 

Always contact HSLDA before speaking with any foreign country’s officials regarding home education. 

Military families stationed in a foreign country may have different protections based upon treaties or other agreements relating to the legal status of military forces. These protections may or may not extend to civilian personnel and contractors. Again, we recommend you contact HSLDA for advice in this or any other situation involving homeschooling overseas.

HSLDA members, please contact us immediately if a government official calls or corresponds with you in an unexpected or nonroutine manner regarding your home education program (such as to request additional information, view your curriculum, or interview your children). One of our primary activities is defending families when their homeschool program is challenged. We have assisted tens of thousands of members and nonmember families facing legal challenges over the years.

If your family needs immediate assistance, we suggest that you expedite your membership application with the $40 rush fee. You will receive an initial contact about your legal situation within 1 business day. Because processing a rush application requires the immediate diversion of HSLDA resources, the $40 fee is nonrefundable. 

Legal assistance for your current situation is not guaranteed. Be sure to include details about your situation in your application and be prepared to submit copies of relevant documentation (letters, court documents, etc.). 

If we cannot assist you, you will have the option to withdraw your application and receive a refund of your membership dues (minus any rush fee). 

Our legal team answers members’ questions, responds to emergencies, and resolves conflicts with authorities in all 50 states and US territories. To reach your state’s legal team, you can call us at 540-338-5600 or log in to your HSLDA account at my.hslda.org to send a message directly.

Please note that member families who choose to consult separately with a non-HSLDA attorney must do so at their own expense.

Yes! HSLDA members have access to fillable, printable forms (such as notices of intent, affidavits, and withdrawal forms) that provide all information required by state law. HSLDA’s legal team can also answer questions from members related to their forms and assist with completing or filing documents when needed.

For more information about how we can help you, please contact your state’s legal team.

HSLDA has state-specific legal forms for members only. On our interactive legal map, click on your state and then scroll down the page until you see a section titled Homeschooling Forms

No. Consistent with government regulations and ethical standards, we cannot guarantee representation in every case or on every appeal.

One of the primary ways we make homeschooling possible is defending families when their homeschool program is threatened, and we have assisted tens of thousands of members and nonmember families with legal challenges since our founding in 1983. But there are situations where HSLDA might not provide legal representation to a member. Examples include (but are not limited to) when there is conflict of interest, when the proceeding is predominated by nonhomeschooling issues outside our mission, or when a proceeding involves significant prior litigation.

No. In general, homeschooling only becomes an issue in a divorce case when the parents cannot agree with each other about the children’s education, and it is typically only one of the many issues over which parents disagree. HSLDA supports the right of parents to determine how their children are educated and therefore does not choose sides if one parent wants to homeschool and the other does not.

When a divorce occurs after the parents have joined HSLDA as a married couple, and the parents disagree on homeschooling, HSLDA cannot ethically represent either member against the other due to the conflict of interest between the parents.

While HSLDA does not represent families in custody disputes, we can provide a free information packet containing research on domestic and custody cases involving homeschooling. Contact us to request the packet.

It depends. HSLDA’s emphasis is maintaining and advancing the freedom of homeschoolers from public school oversight. Accordingly, HSLDA generally does not use our resources to force public school districts to allow homeschool access.

Some states, however, have adopted statutes granting homeschoolers a right to access public school resources. In those circumstances, HSLDA will assist its members in obtaining access to those services to the extent allowed by law.

It depends. Special education refers to instruction or assistance in traditional academic areas such as math and language arts. Related services, on the other hand, are aids to a child—like speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. These services indirectly improve a child’s ability to learn but are separate from traditional academic curricula. Under federal regulations, homeschooled students are entitled to seek related services in states where homeschools are considered to be private schools.

Because HSLDA’s emphasis is on guarding the freedom of homeschoolers from public school oversight, we generally do not help homeschooled students obtain access to special education in public schools. HSLDA may, however, assist member families seeking related services if they live in a state where homeschools are considered private schools. You can learn about your state’s provisions here.

Generally, yes. HSLDA’s mission of making homeschooling possible extends to helping families whose decision to homeschool subjects them to suspicions of abuse or neglect.

Many reports to child protective services (CPS) arise from a misunderstanding about homeschooling—a neighbor may see children playing outside during school hours and think that the parents are allowing them to be truant. CPS investigators and law enforcement personnel then insist they be allowed to interview the children and search the family’s home without a warrant. And if the parents are hesitant about allowing the interview or home visit, the investigators may use threats of removing the children to get the parents to comply.

We agree with what the US Court of Appeals said in the Calabretta case: “The government’s interest in the welfare of children embraces not only protecting children from physical abuse, but also protecting children’s interest in the privacy and dignity of their homes and in the lawfully exercised authority of their parents.”

Because the right to be secure in your home is essential to your right to homeschool, we generally assist our members in an initial contact with CPS investigators to ensure that their constitutional rights are protected.

Once the initial contact is over, HSLDA’s ability to continue assisting you depends on several factors, including whether the investigation is predominated by nonhomeschooling issues outside our mission. As with all litigation matters, we assess these factors on a case-by-case basis.

No. Because our mission is to make homeschooling possible, we focus our efforts on supporting homeschool families—that is, families who are currently homeschooling or who are withdrawing their children from public school to begin homeschooling. Since transferring into public school is outside our emphasis, we do not assist members in disputes with public schools over what credits they will accept or whether they require prospective students to take placement tests.

No. While every family is welcome to join HSLDA to support our work advancing homeschool freedom, our legal services are limited to assisting with issues related to private homeschooling. Disputes involving public charter programs are not within our focus.

Generally, no. There are some states where parents who homeschool are required by law to provide the state with immunization information or a waiver. In those situations, we assist our members in navigating what the law requires them to do. To find out if your state has an immunization requirement to homeschool, click here.

Beyond this, however, most immunization disputes (including disputes over immunization requirements for dual enrollment or activities in public schools) are outside our mission of making homeschooling possible.