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September 7, 2006

Declaration of Intent Trouble

A good many school districts in Georgia are continuing to insist that parents conducting a home study program utilize the declaration of intent form developed by local public school officials. The problem with using these forms is that they almost always seek information about the homeschool and family not required by state law. For example, Home School Legal Defense Association addressed this problem with the Houston County Board of Education at the beginning of this school year after it insisted that parents provide information regarding the need of special education services by their children, the date of birth and grade level of each student, telephone numbers and e-mail address for the parent, a copy of the parent’s driver’s license, and a withdrawal form from previous private, public, or home school if not registered in Houston County. State law only requires that the declaration of intent include “a list of the names and ages of the students who are enrolled in the home study program, the address where the home study program is located, and a statement of the twelve month period that is to be considered the school year for that home study program.&”

Subsection (e) of Section 20-2-690 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated requires the State Board of Education to devise, adopt, and “make available” to local school superintendents, who shall in turn “make available” to parents or guardians of children in home study programs such printed forms as may be reasonably necessary to carry out the reporting provisions of the homeschool law. However, there is no requirement that the forms which have been made available be used by parents or guardians in submitting the declaration of intent or any other reporting requirements. Had the Georgia Legislature intended that the use of the forms be mandatory, the statute would contain language to this effect. Furthermore, this subsection states that the forms made available to parents “shall not be inconsistent with or exceed the requirements of this Code section.” The declaration of intent form provided by the Houston County Board of Education and a number of other school districts violates this provision of state law by requiring parents to provide information beyond what the homeschool law requires.

HSLDA member families encountering difficulties with school officials over the use of declaration of intent forms should contact us for assistance.