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Attorney General Agrees With HSLDA
Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Georgia. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>
Last month, the Georgia Attorney General issued an opinion agreeing with Home School Legal Defense Association that proposed regulations by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) violate state law as applied to homeschoolers. The proposed regulations would require homeschool graduates to successfully complete “academic rigor requirements” in order to qualify for the Georgia HOPE scholarship which pays for college tuition. This means that homeschool students would be required to take advanced math, advanced science, and advanced foreign language courses at an accredited public or private high school or an accredited postsecondary school. Completion of the courses in a home study program taught by a parent or other person would be insufficient.
HSLDA’s research indicated that students who complete a home study program do not have to take the “academic rigor” courses at all in order to qualify for the scholarship. The statutes enacted by the Georgia General Assembly creating the HOPE scholarship provide that students who successfully complete a home study program may qualify for the scholarship in either of two ways: (1) by completing 45 quarter hours or 30 semester hours of college with a 3.0 grade point average and receiving the scholarship retroactively or (2) by scoring at the 80th percentile on a test like the SAT or ACT and receiving the scholarship at the beginning of their freshman year. Public and private school students do not have to meet the same requirements as homeschoolers but qualify for the scholarship as entering freshmen by earning a 3.0 GPA in high school.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the president of the GSFC and asserted that this administrative agency had exceeded the authority granted to it by the legislature in attempting to impose the academic rigor requirements on homeschool students. The GSFC forwarded Black’s letter to the Georgia Department of Law, which issued the attorney general’s letter opinion on February 18, 2015, agreeing with HSLDA’s analysis. The opinion stated that, “There is no language in [the applicable statute] that indicates that the General Assembly intended the new academic rigor requirements contained in that statute to apply to students completing a course of home study.” The opinion went on to say that to require homeschool students to take these courses in addition to meeting the eligibility requirements set forth for them in the statute would be “punitive.”
Presumably, the GSFC will revise its proposed regulations to conform to the attorney general’s opinion, thereby putting to an end the unfair treatment of homeschool graduates.
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