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March 27, 2014

Get a GED or Get Out!

Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Ohio. He and his wife homeschool. Read more >>

Ohio homeschool graduate Katrina S. was studying for midterms at college when she got a threatening and unsettling phone call from the administration. An official informed her that she would be kicked out of school if she didn’t either get a GED or prove the impossible—that she had a “state-certified diploma.”

Of course, Katrina’s diploma was signed by her mom and, like all homeschool diplomas, was not state certified. Instead her diploma reflected a lot of “sweat equity” that Katrina and her parents invested in providing her with an excellent education—an education she also received in compliance with Ohio law.

Tense Situation

Katrina started her first semester this past January, but when the school decided it needed to verify her homeschool diploma things got tense. Many schools conduct post-matriculation reviews of student files to ensure that they are in compliance with federal financial aid regulations. This particular school, however, after reviewing Katrina’s file, asked her to submit an “official” diploma with a “Home School Certificate Form” that came directly from the state or from an “umbrella organization” in which her homeschool high school curriculum was completed.

When Katrina explained she had been homeschooled under the homeschool statute in Ohio and that no “umbrella organization” had been involved, the school said unless she took the GED they would “kick her out.”

After increasing frustration with the schools’ approach, Katrina and her mother contacted HSLDA, requesting assistance. HSLDA’s Ohio legal team wrote to the school’s admissions office and explained that the family’s compliance with Ohio’s homeschool statute established a legal and valid home education program. HSLDA added that letters of excuse from the superintendent that Katrina provided demonstrated compliance with state law and thus, her mother legally issued her diploma.

Legitimate Education

HSLDA attorney for Ohio member affairs Michael Donnelly made contact with the financial aid director at the school as well as with the Ohio Department of Education to explain that the state does not need to “certify” diplomas for homeschool students or private school students in order to qualify for financial aid. Post-secondary schools are free to set their own admission policies, but federal educational guidelines explicitly recognize homeschooling as a legitimate form of education which qualifies a student to receive federal student aid. Kicking a student out of a school after they have been admitted to study on account of homeschooling would be an extreme action.

For more information about college admission please read our article online.

Just a few days after Donnelly’s conversation with the school, HSLDA was contacted by the family with good news.

“They accepted her transcript based on your letter and conversation and our portfolio packet!” Katrina’s mother told HSLDA in an email. “Thank you so you so much for all your help.”

Thanks to HSLDA’s assistance Katrina could settle down and get through midterms. And without HSLDA’s help she received stellar grades—just what you’d expect from a bright homeschooled student like Katrina.

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Protect Your Family

If you have questions or difficulties in a school accepting your family’s homeschool diploma, don’t hesitate to contact HSLDA. We are happy to assist you! If you aren’t a member of HSLDA—what are you waiting for? By standing together we can fight discrimination against homeschoolers and protect our fundamental freedoms. Join today!