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April 8, 2014

New Law Recognizes Home Instruction

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dee Black assists members with questions and issues regarding Alabama homeschool law. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

With the enactment of Senate Bill 38 on April 2, 2014, Alabama law now expressly recognizes home instruction by someone other than a state-certified private tutor as an option for complying with the compulsory attendance requirements.

The vast majority of parents teaching their children at home in Alabama do so through enrollment in a church school. But, until now, this method has not been included in the statutory language describing the options available to parents. The new law redefines a church school to include either on-site or home programs.

Until now, private schools have never been a viable option for home educators, because the law required that these schools be approved by the state superintendent of education. Approval was granted only if all of the teachers were state-certified and public school courses were taught. The new law defines a private school simply as “only such schools that are established, conducted, and supported by a nongovernmental entity or agency offering educational instruction in grades K-12, or any combination thereof, including preschool, through on-site or home programs.” Since a person is a legal entity, this means that anyone may start and operate a private school meeting the requirements in the definition. Private schools are now an option for parents conducting home instruction, whether it’s through the home program of an established private school or by creating a private school having the home as its main location.

The new law also contains nondiscrimination language for graduates of any nonpublic school, including those who were “home schooled.” It states that no public two-year or four-year institution of higher learning may deny admission to an otherwise qualified student based on the fact that the student attended, graduated from, or is enrolled in a nonpublic school. No longer will graduates of church schools (and now private schools) be required to take the GED exam in order to be admitted to a state college.

Another major provision of the new law makes it clear that nonpublic schools are not subject to licensure or regulation by the state or any of its political subdivisions, including the state department of education.

The new law transforms Alabama from a state where the legal status of home educators was uncertain to one that offers one of the most favorable legal climates in the nation. It goes into effect on July 1 of this year. Senators Dick Brewbaker (Dist. 25) and Del Marsh (Dist. 12) sponsored this legislation.

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