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August 8, 2017

Course Correction: HSLDA Steers Through Coast Guard’s Policy Fog

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MIKE SMITH MIKE SMITH
HSLDA President

When a homeschool graduate was told he needed higher test scores than fellow recruits in order to join the Coast Guard, we thought it was discrimination. It turned out to be a case of mass confusion.

Three years ago the Department of Defense issued a memo stating that homeschool graduates can enlist like any other high school graduates.

So imagine Connor Mathis’ frustration when he was told by U.S. Coast Guard recruiters that his enlistment test score wasn’t good enough. After taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), Connor scored 47 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) portion of the exam—11 points higher than the minimum required for public high school graduates.

The recruiters then informed him that, because he was homeschooled, he needed an AFQT score of 64.

Calling in Reinforcements

Connor’s mother quickly contacted Home School Legal Defense Association. President Mike Smith, our contact attorney for California, immediately sent a letter to the recruiter, including a copy of the Department of Defense’s memo.

The recruiter contacted Mrs. Mathis and explained that they were under the Department of Homeland Security, and therefore the DOD memo didn’t apply to them. They also said that they would issue a waiver for the 3 points that Connor needed to get his score to 50.

This caused further confusion, as Connor was initially told that he would have to score a 64. Now it appeared that the recruiters were referencing an older Department of Defense policy which used to require homeschool graduates to score a 50 on the AFQT.

HSLDA contacted the recruiters’ office to see exactly what the U.S. Coast Guard was requiring of homeschool graduates. The recruiters explained that they would give Connor a waiver so that he could enter the U.S. Coast Guard with a score of 50.

When we pressed about their policy, including the original requirement of scoring a 64, one recruiter referred us to her supervisor.

Our office received a call later that day from the supervisor, whose first words were: “I have to contact my recruiters—they misspoke.”

He explained that the U.S. Coast Guard would accept Connor since he scored above 36 on the AFQT and was in compliance with state homeschool laws. He also said they would view homeschool graduates the same as public high school graduates and that he would be retraining his recruiters.

We applaud the U.S. Coast Guard for correcting their error and encourage any of our member families to contact us right away if they encounter similar difficulties.