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The board that oversees standards for police training in Arizona has adopted changes that will make it easier for homeschool graduates to pursue positions in law enforcement.
The new policy conforms to what HSLDA and Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) have been recommending. It allows parents to self-certify their homeschool students’ completion of high school with minimal verification of compliance with state law.
This represents a vast improvement over previous practices, when homeschool graduates were asked to present “accredited” diplomas or obtain a GED in order to apply for jobs as peace officers or correctional officers in Arizona. Reform efforts began after several Arizona homeschool graduates contacted both HSLDA and AFHE to report that their homeschool diplomas and transcripts had been questioned when they applied for jobs as police officers or sheriff’s deputies.
HSLDA and AFHE then contacted the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZ POST), which is tasked with establishing and maintaining minimum education standards necessary to become a peace officer or correctional officer in the state.
Not a Requirement
HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt and AFHE advocate Tom Lewis worked with AZ POST to address the fact that homeschool graduates who had complied with state law in their homeschool program were facing roadblocks in their desire to become police officers. Most of these homeschool graduates had provided a homeschool diploma and transcripts to demonstrate that they had completed high school. While Arizona does not require a homeschool student to complete specific high school credits in order to graduate, a homeschool student applying to be a peace officer or seeking admission into college should follow the same credit guidelines necessary to graduate from a public school.
Some at AZ POST wanted the Arizona Department of Education to certify each homeschool student’s completion of high school or have homeschool students take a GED if they didn’t have an “accredited” diploma. HSLDA and AFHE objected to these proposals.
We pointed out that state law does not require homeschool diplomas to be certified by state education officials and provides no procedure by which this could occur. Instead, Schmidt argued that homeschool parents should be able to provide their students’ homeschool diplomas and transcripts along with verification of their compliance with state law (i.e. a copy of the home education affidavit they filed with their local county).
The Rules Change
In December, AZ POST amended rule R13-4-105 to state that an applicant for police training must have “a diploma from a high school recognized by the department of education of the jurisdiction in which the diploma was issued, have successfully completed a General Education Development (G.E.D.) examination, or have a degree from an institution of higher education accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.” The amended rule will go into effect on August 6, 2016, but we expect AZ POST to begin processing homeschool graduates immediately.
AZ POST has just published an interoffice memo from assistant attorney general Michael Salt stating that a homeschool graduate will meet the minimum education standards when he or she complies with state law and provides documentation indicating he or she has completed the equivalent of a high school education. Specifically, AZ POST will look for the following when a homeschool graduate applies for a job as a peace officer or corrections officer:
- A copy of an affidavit from the applicant’s county of residence, confirming that the applicant was registered for homeschooling in accordance with ARS § 15-802, including the date of registration if the student was between the ages of 8 and 16 when withdrawn from public school.
- Educational transcripts, signed by the student’s parent or guardian.
- A diploma, letter and/or affidavit indicating that the student has successfully completed a high school equivalent education. A parent could also provide a copy of any document which they might have submitted to notify the county superintendent the student had completed the homeschool program (not legally required but occasionally done when the child graduates early).
While individual agencies across the state who are looking to hire new peace officers or corrections officers may implement additional requirements, we believe homeschool graduates will be able to pursue a position in law enforcement with greater ease due to the new AZ POST rule and policy. We will continue to watch several graduates who are seeking to join local police departments.