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May 27, 2015

Homeschool Law Changed

Dee Black Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Georgia. He and his wife homeschooled their children.

With the enactment of House Bill 502 on May 12, 2015, Georgia’s homeschool law now requires that parents include the name of their local public school system in the declaration of intent filed with the Georgia Department of Education. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2015, in time for the 2015–2016 school year. Parents or guardians must file a declaration of intent to conduct a home study program with the department within 30 days of establishing the program and by September 1 annually thereafter.

Previous efforts by the department to collect the name of the local school system have not been without some controversy. Last year, the department began insisting that this information be provided on both the electronic and written forms of the declaration of intent, despite the fact that it had no legal right to do so. When Home School Legal Defense Association discovered that this was happening, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the general counsel of the department, alleging that the department was in violation of the law. Black quoted an excerpt from the homeschool law stating that the information sought in the forms developed by the department “shall not be inconsistent with or exceed the requirements of this Code section.” At that time, the homeschool statute required certain information from parents but not the name of their local school system. Nevertheless, the department has continued to the present time to insist that homeschoolers provide information in their declaration of intent that it has no right to receive.

Black explained in his correspondence with lawyers at the department that HSLDA’s objection to requiring homeschoolers to provide the name of their local school system was based on principle and not the nature of the information being sought. HSLDA’s concern was that if homeschoolers acquiesced in the unauthorized collection of information by the state, this might create a precedent that could expand to threaten homeschoolers’ privacy and liberty. Black went on to state that he did not think the majority of home educators in Georgia would object to providing the name of their local school system in their declaration of intent so long as the law required it. For this reason, neither HSLDA nor the Georgia Home Education Association opposed passage of HB 502.

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