The Tennessee Department of Education (TN DOE) recently published regulation updates for non-public schools. Last week I had the opportunity to discuss these changes with TN DOE to ensure that our understanding was the same regarding any impact on homeschool options in Tennessee.
I appreciate your patience on this issue, as it was important to ensure that there was no difference of opinion as to what the regulations actually impact.
It is important to note that these regulatory changes are not changes to the law.
Regarding independent homeschools, there are no regulation changes for homeschool families who file a notice of intent to homeschool under TN ST § 46-6-3050. However, you should note that the requirement for immunizations or to request an exemption was removed during this most recent legislative session.
Regarding church-related schools, the updated regulations brought the TN DOE into conformity with existing state law. Many of you have asked about the 6.5-hour requirement. Under TN ST § 49-5-801, “church-related schools shall be conducted for the same length of term as public schools.”
As such, these schools are subject to a minimum of 6.5 instructional hours a day for 180 days per year. This has been the law in Tennessee for many years and does not represent a change. Parent-teachers in a church-related school are not subject to criminal history checks, and students are not required to take annual assessments.
There are some regulatory changes to Category III schools. If you are in a Category III school and have questions that are not addressed by the school itself, please contact HSLDA and we can address any concerns you might have.
For both Category III and Category IV homeschools, we do not review individual school policies, and we continue to encourage families to thoroughly review the requirements of the schools they are considering.
In short, I do not expect that the regulation updates by the TN DOE will result in any significant changes for homeschooling families in Tennessee.In you have any questions about your specific situation and are an HSLDA member, please feel free to reach out to us. As always, we’d be pleased to assist.