Are Military Families Allowed to Homeschool?
Since March 27, 2001, the Department of Defense’s Education Activity (DoDEA) has recognized that homeschooling is a parent’s right.1 This means that military families are free to homeschool their children, and that base commanders cannot prohibit them from doing so. If stationed at a base within the United States, military families must comply with the compulsory school attendance law of the state in which they reside. If the family is serving at a base outside of the United States, they are not required to comply with U.S. compulsory attendance laws or with the laws of their host nation.
Why Do Military Families Homeschool?
Because military personnel are often transferred from base to base, residing in various locations around the country and the world, their children are often forced to adjust to a new school with every move. Homeschooling offers a more stable environment to military families, and can ensure that children maintain steady educational progress.
Is it Difficult for Military Families to Homeschool?
Military families have no obligation to seek approval to homeschool from the Department of Defense (DoD). However, because base commanders are responsible for the well-being of those assigned to their bases, they will occasionally request that homeschooling families complete a simple form indicating their educational choice. HSLDA recommends that military families submit these forms (if asked to do so), as long as the information requested does not include curriculum details, proof of teacher qualifications, or evaluation mandates. Should you be asked to complete such a form, please contact HSLDA.
Does the Department of Defense Offer any Resources to Homeschooling Military Families?
On November 6, 2002, the DoD issued a new policy that grants homeschoolers equal access to DoDEA educational resources and schools.2 This policy states that the DoD is neutral in regards to homeschooling. They will not force homeschooled children to participate in DoDEA schools or classes, but will make these classes available to homeschoolers. These support services and classes include library services, educational classes, special education services, and extra-curricular activities, such as music and sports programs (as a caveat, homeschoolers participating in these programs are subject to normal regulations and policies, such as dress codes and prerequisites).
In addition to these support services and classes, the DoDEA will loan materials such as textbooks, workbooks, and software to homeschoolers to assist in their educational programs.
1. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, House of Representatives Report 106–162, http://www.fas.org/man/congress/1999/hr1401commrept.htm.
2. Department of Defense Education Activities, “Department of Defense Education Activities Policy Memorandum: Homeschooling,” November 6, 2002, 02-OD-02, http://www.dodea.edu/foia/iod/pdf/02OD002.pdf.
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