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August 11, 2014

Department of Education Mandates Electronic Form

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

According to the Arkansas Department of Education’s website, parents desiring to homeschool their children must file their notice of intent electronically beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. For the 2014-2015 school year, parents may continue to use a paper form or choose to submit the notice electronically.

Last month, Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the department of education’s general counsel and pointed out the legal problems with the department’s plan to ban use of the paper forms. Black’s letter stated that Arkansas law requires parents to give “written notice” to the local superintendent of their intent to provide a homeschool for their children. The law also states that parents must deliver the written notice in person to the superintendent of their local school district the first time such notice is given. The statute does not allow for electronic submission of the notice. Accordingly, Black said, it would be impossible for a parent who submitted the notice electronically to comply with the requirement that the notice be “written.” Neither would an electronic submission fulfill the requirement that the written notice be delivered in person the first time notice is to be given. Black asserted that for these reasons, the attempt by the department to require that the notice be filed only electronically is contrary to the language of the statute and unenforceable.

On July 30, 2014, the general counsel for the department of education replied to Black’s letter and stated in part, “We will take your concerns under advisement as we determine the requirements for the 2015-2016 school year.”

It is likely that most home educators in Arkansas would have no objection to changing the law to permit electronic filings as an option along with paper filings. But any effort by the department of education to act without legal authority in eliminating paper filings poses a threat to freedom and must be addressed. HSLDA will continue to interact with the department on this matter in seeking a conclusion that is favorable to homeschoolers.

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