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August 8, 2017

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Landon Farmer LANDON FARMER
Legal Assistant for South Dakota

Unaware of legal changes enacted six years ago, a public school official tried to make homeschool families apply for something they no longer need—approval to teach their own children.

For many years, homeschoolers in South Dakota had to file an “application for excuse” from public school attendance, but they were not actually excused until their local school board approved the application. Since 2011, approval has not been required and students are excused immediately when their parents file the proper form. This form, however, continued to be called an application, causing much confusion.

In a win for homeschool families, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed H.B. 1122 in March, changing the outdated application to a notification. This removed the last vestige of the bygone era when approval was actually required.

Ignorant of six years of precedent and the passage of the new law, a public school district mailed a letter to resident homeschool families asking them to file a “public school exemption application” for approval at the next board meeting. A watchful former HSLDA member received the letter and forwarded it to us, wondering if we could do anything to help bring the district into compliance with the law.

HSLDA’s legal staff quickly called the school official who authored the letter. She was completely unaware of H.B. 1122’s enactment. HSLDA explained the implications of the new law, and the official assured us she would be happy to make all necessary changes to the district’s correspondence.

Though it is best if districts are up to date on all relevant new laws, HSLDA appreciates this official’s eagerness to comply.