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September 18, 2009

Superintendent Rejects Notices of Intent

Home School Legal Defense Association assisted eight member families in Butte at the beginning of this school year when the county superintendent of schools rejected their notice of intent. In a letter sent to each of the families, the superintendent stated that she was unable to “register” the children to be homeschooled because of insufficient information contained in the notices of intent. The superintendent cited registration requirements established by the Montana Office of Public Instruction that the student’s name, date of birth, and grade level be provided to the local school district. Additionally, the superintendent requested the following information about the parents: “name, address, city, phone number, signature and school district of residence/last attended.” The superintendent also requested in her letter that the parents call her office and make an appointment to discuss their intentions as a homeschool provider for their children. Six of the eight families had utilized HSLDA’s notice of intent form, while the other two families had provided enrollment information in a different form.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent letters to the superintendent on behalf of all of the member families. He pointed out that students enrolled in a homeschool are not public school students, so there is no requirement that they register with the public school district. Black explained that the state statute governing homeschools in Montana requires the homeschool to “notify the county superintendent of schools of the county in which the home school is located in each school fiscal year of the student’s attendance at the school.” The statute does not prescribe the particular information that is to be included in the notice filed with the county superintendent, nor does it prescribe any particular form to be utilized in giving this notice. In HSLDA’s opinion, all of the families had fully complied with the law by providing each student’s name and address and the parent’s name and signature. Black told the superintendent that the families did not intend to submit any additional information other than what was furnished in the notices of intent previously filed.

Regarding the superintendent’s request that each family call her office and make an appointment to meet with her, Black responded by informing the superintendent that there is no requirement in state law for parents operating a homeschool to meet with public school officials for any purpose.