September 23, 2002

Utah School District Keeps Homeschooler Out of College

The Jordan School District in Utah has hit a new low in the long running conflict between public schools and homeschoolers. The district has effectively prevented a seventeen-year-old homeschool student from attending the local community college.

Salt Lake Community College was eager to admit Matthew Kent (named changed to protect privacy) as an incoming student, but wanted verification that Matthew had completed high school. Home School Legal Defense Association promptly mailed the college a copy of the United States Department of Education's letter on this issue. The Federal Department of Education has clarified that homeschoolers may "self-certify" the completion of their program. Unfortunately, the official at Salt Lake Community College asked the family to get a letter from their school district stating that Matthew had been homeschooled in compliance with the district's policies. The family has homeschooled in Utah for seven years, and has always complied with the district's policies. Each year, the Kent family registered and received approval from Jordan School District. Now, however, when they requested some proof of completion from the district, they were denied. Jordan took the position that a child cannot "graduate" from homeschool until they turn eighteen.

HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville promptly wrote Jordan School District and Salt Lake Community College a letter which detailed the specific high school requirements for graduation that are listed on Jordan's Annual Application for Home School. In its application, Jordan School District indicates that three units of language arts are required. Matthew has completed eight. Jordan requires two units of mathematics. Matthew has completed ten. Jordan requires two units of science, three units of social studies, and one and a half units of arts. Matthew has completed six, six, and three units respectively. The high school requirements for graduation from Jordan School District are twenty-four units total. Matthew has completed fifty units so far. Despite this, Jordan refuses to budge.

The official at Salt Lake Community College has made it clear that he wants to admit Matthew as a student, but is afraid that if he does so without having the school district "release" him from high school, they might prosecute. Salt Lake has now contacted the Utah Department of Education, who will be in touch with the Attorney General's office soon. There is some hope that the department of education will instruct the school district that they must release Matthew. In the meantime, Matthew is not attending school at all. Instead of getting an education, he has gotten a job.