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January 12, 2006

State Denies Home Study Renewal Application

For the 2005-2006 school year Mr. and Mrs. Clark submitted their renewal application for their home study program for their son. With the renewal application they sent a copy of their son's Stanford Achievement Test with a composite score total at the 90th percentile. However, the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) sent the application back as "unapproved" because Mr. and Mrs. Clark did not submit the grade level to be taught this school year.

After calling Home School Legal Defense Association for help, Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt contacted the Louisiana DOE on behalf of our member family. Schmidt pointed out that Louisiana law requires a home study program to offer a sustained curriculum of a quality at least equal to that offered by public school at the same grade level.

However, there is no legal requirement that a parent indicate the grade level the child will be working in for a home study renewal application to be approved. Instead, according to the law, the application shall be approved if the child has scored at or above his grade level or the child has progressed at a rate equal to one grade level for each year in a home study program. Often it is difficult for parent to identify one grade level that their child is working at.

In responding to HSLDA's letter the DOE stated that a grade level must be included to satisfy their legitimate educational concerns and that their guidelines require it.

HSLDA continues to stand and defend families who do not want to give in to the DOE's unauthorized demands. The only time a grade level should be necessary on a home study application is when the student reaches the 11th and 12th grade in order to be eligible for the Louisiana Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). HSLDA has specifically designed home study forms for these years and they can be found in the Forms and Resources section.