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Common Questions & Plain Answers about Home Schooling in Idaho

The freedom of educational choice carries with it the responsibility to educate.

1. How is education addressed in the Idaho law?

The Idaho Constitution, article 9, section I gives the legislature the power to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free, common schools. Idaho Code title 33, section 101 through 33-116 creates a state board for the general supervision and control of all state education institutions and public school systems.

2. Who is responsible for the education of a child in Idaho and what subjects must be taught?

Idaho code title 33, section 202 - "The parent or guardian of any child resident in this state who has attained the age of seven (7) years at the time of the commencement of school in his district, but not the age of sixteen (16) years, shall cause the child to be instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of the state of Idaho." Though not specified in the statutes, the generally accepted subjects are: English, math, reading, science, history and civics.

3. What choices do parents have under the law regarding their children's education?

Parents have four (4) choices to provide for the education of their children:
1. Private instruction by, or at the direction of, the child’s parent or guardian
2. Public (including charter and on-line or virtual charter) schools,
3. Private schools
4. Parochial schools
Idaho Code title 33, section 202 - "... To accomplish this, a parent or guardian shall either cause the child to be privately instructed by, or at the direction of, his parent or guardian; or enrolled in a public school or public charter school, including an on-line or virtual charter school or private or parochial school . . .

4. If private schools are a legal option in Idaho, is homeschooling considered private?

Although home schools were formerly considered private schools under Attorney General Opinion 83-12, such is no longer the case.  With the modification of Idaho Code section 33-202 which occurred in 2009, private instruction by, or at the direction, of the child’s parent or guardian is now a separate expressly-approved method of instruction.

5. Must parents or guardians be certified or meet other qualifications to teach their children at home?

No. There is no certification requirement for home or private instructors, only that the instructors be competent (Attorney General Opinion 83-12, page 11). This same opinion confirms that "There is no code provision requiring state certification of home instructors."
 
6. Are parents/guardians required to adhere to the attendance policies of public schools for their home schooled children?

No. If the parent or guardians' choice is public, private or parochial school, Idaho Code section 33-202 states that the child is, "to conform to the attendance policies and regulations established by the board of trustees, or other governing body, operating the school attended." No such requirement applies to parents who teach their own children or cause their children to be privately instructed.

7. Is there a requirement to conduct home school on the exact same days as the public schools?

No.  Under the recently-revised version of Idaho Code, section 33-202, the requirement that students be taught “during a period in each year equal to that in which the public schools are in session” does not apply to those students who are home educated.

8. Is it possible for a home schooled child to participate in public school activities or selected classes?

Yes. Idaho Code Section 33-203 passed in 1995 allows all children to dually-enroll in selected public school classes or activities, even if not attending that school full time.

9. In order to teach my children at home, do I have to prove to the local school board that l am educating my children as required in Idaho Code 33-202?

No.  Home schoolers operate totally separate from the public school system.  We stand on an equal footing with the public system.  A change made in 1992 to Idaho Code  section 33-202 removed any remaining connection between public schools and home schools.  As a result, the local school board has no authority or jurisdiction over home schooling families which live within the district.  However, if parents choose either to enroll their child in a public school course or to have their child participate in a public school athletic program (dual enrollment), the child must abide by district policies regarding such courses or programs.  Also, students who enroll in any “public school at home” program should remember that their students are subject to all of the rules and regulations which apply to all public school students.

10. As a homeschooler, what information am I required to furnish a local school board?

None. See answer to Question 9.

11. Does the local school board have the right to require that my child be tested or evaluated?

No. There is no state law requiring testing of any kind for students. However, the State Board of Education rules provide for statewide testing programs in the public schools. Testing of home schooled children is available on a voluntary basis. Contact the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators (www.iche-idaho.org).

12. How should I respond to a public school or health and welfare official at my door or by phone questioning my right to home school?

Treat them with respect and courtesy. You are under no obligation to answer their questions. You may want to inform them that you are teaching your children as required by law. (Reference: Idaho Code, Section 33-202 quoted in Answers to Questions 2 & 3, above) There is no need for further conversation.  Because of the risks and costs associated with an investigation by law enforcement or Child Protective Services personnel, it is also recommended that families join Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) which will provide free legal defense in the event of such an investigation.  Join HSLDA on line at www.hslda.org.  Go to the “Idaho Law” tab at www.iche-idaho.org and print out “The Social Worker at Your Door:  10 Helpful Hints.”  Review the steps and keep this in an accessible location.

13. How should I respond if contacted by the county prosecutor's office?

Take the initiative and make an appointment to see the prosecutor personally. Ask to see the evidence to support the allegations made.   If you are a member of Home School Legal Defense Association, contact them immediately to obtain free legal representation to assist in the defense of the matter.

14. How do I go about removing my child from public school enrollment?

It is recommended that you contact the attendance clerk of the school attended by  by certified letter and instruct the district to remove your child's name from their attendance roll indicating that you are providing private instruction for your child at home.   A sample withdrawal letter is available on line at the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators website at www.iche-idaho.org.

15. What should I do about my child's student records from the public school?

If you desire to have the records, advise the school personnel to mail the records to your home or to make them available to you. If the school district refuses to provide the records, you can demand the information under the U.S. Civil Rights Code, Title 20, paragraph 1232g, Family Educational and Privacy Rights, and Title 5, paragraph 522(d), Access to Records.

16. How can a student receive a high school diploma outside a public school?

The University of Idaho offers an accredited high school correspondence course, and private schools (including home schools) can issue their own diplomas upon completion of the curriculum. Also, various home school organizations hold formal or informal graduation ceremonies and issue suitable diplomas to graduating seniors.  For students who participate in private graduation ceremonies, honor cords may be worn by those students who are nominated to Who’s Who Among Idaho Scholars and ICHE Summa Cum Laude Scholars based upon their scores on the Iowa Tests and Tests of Achievement and Proficiency administered by ICHE.

17. If my child doesn't graduate from an accredited high school, can he/she attend an Idaho college or university?

Yes, after attaining a satisfactory score on a specified entrance examination. Check the college or university handbook for details of any other requirements. The student will usually be enrolled on a provisional basis which would change to regular enrollment after three semesters of a grade point average of 2.1 or better.