Feeling Alone in Your Homeschooling Experience?
Join the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)Your membership provides you with:
- Advocates for Family & Freedom HSLDA is over 70,000 families, supported by more than 50 dedicated staff members, who have banded together to ensure that our rights are respected and our freedoms are protected.
Our lawyers are all homeschooling fathers, who have 57 years of combined legal experience defending homeschool families. Over 20 homeschool graduates work for us in various staff positions. We are committed to home education, not only as a legal right, but also as an educational opportunity and spiritual blessing. We are a Christian organization that advocates the right of all families to homeschool regardless of their religious affiliation.
We believe God has blessed HSLDA’s efforts on behalf of the homeschooling community. Our mission remains the same today as at our founding in 1983—to defend and advance the constitutional rights of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.
- Your Advocates for Family & Freedom In the Court Room
Every parent has the right to homeschool. HSLDA is committed to advocating the two fundamental principles of this liberty: parental rights and religious freedom. Since 1983, we have represented our member families every step of the way—from consultation to correspondence and negotiation with local officials, and in court proceedings all the way through the appellate courts. HSLDA pays all litigation costs for homeschool cases it undertakes.
- A Voice in Washington, DC
HSLDA monitors federal legislation and maintains relationships with key Senate and House offices as well as with other family-friendly organizations through the National Center for Home Education. Founded by HSLDA’s board of directors in 1990, the National Center for Home Education also directs the Congressional Action Program (CAP). A two-pronged effort, CAP trains DC area homeschool families to lobby our federal representatives on issues affecting home educators and disseminates emergency legislative alerts to volunteers nationwide by fax and e-mail.
- Monitoring of State Legislation
HSLDA helps state leaders by tracking state legislation, alerting them to bills which may affect home educators, and fighting harmful legislation. At the invitation of state homeschool organizations, HSLDA assists with drafting statutes to improve their homeschool legal environment.
- A Positive Image in the Media
HSLDA strives to present an engaging, informative, and dynamic picture of the homeschooling community to the public by providing the media with articulate and knowledgeable spokesmen on the subject of homeschooling. Our press releases alert the media to significant court decisions, research findings, or achievements by homeschooled students, and articles authored by HSLDA staff are published in newspapers and magazines across the country.
- Quick Action When Freedoms Are Threatened
When you’ve got a problem that needs immediate attention, we’re just a phone call away—24 hours a day. HSLDA enables our members to homeschool their children in peace and freedom.
- What Kinds of Cases Do We Take?
If a government official challenges your right to homeschool, HSLDA is there as your advocate, fully representing you at every stage of your legal proceedings.
Each year, thousands of member families receive legal consultation by letter and telephone, hundreds more are represented though negotiations with local officials, and dozens are represented in court proceedings. HSLDA also takes the offensive, filing actions to protect members against government intrusion and to establish legal precedent.
We help our members through the initial stages of child abuse and neglect investigations. We remain involved in follow-up litigation if homeschooling is an issue.
HSLDA will take non-member cases for free if, in our sole judgment, the case could potentially affect the rights of all homeschoolers. Although we do not take divorce or custody cases, we do provide a helpful packet of legal information and will, when there is an opportunity to set precedent, file an amicus brief on behalf of the homeschooling parent.
- Your Information Source
Home School Court Report—Our bimonthly newsletter updates you on what is going on in your state and around the nation, reporting on trends, issues, and items of general interest to home educators. www.hslda.org—Our web site puts helpful resources, news, and information at your fingertips 24 hours a day. Fax Alerts and E-lerts (alerts by e-mail)—These timely messages keep state group leaders and subscribing members current on “hot” legislative issues that need their attention. Federal Legislative Hot Line—Available around the clock, this hot line provides current information on key home school related federal legislation.
Home School Heartbeat—Our daily, two-minute radio program airs on nearly 400 stations and speaks to the needs of homeschooling parents and those considering home education for their children. Programs address a wide variety of topics—educational, legal, and spiritual—of interest to homeschoolers. Conference Speakers—Our attorneys and staff offer vision, encouragement, and helpful how-to-home-school information at state, regional, national, and international conferences. Special Needs Coordinator—Counseling and helpful materials are available to members whose children face special challenges.
- The Wisdom of Experience
Nobody sets out to get into a legal battle, but it happens all the time—often because of what someone did not know about state requirements. Our membership coordinators, legal staff, and special needs coordinator can assist you in carefully planning and establishing your homeschool. We also offer an array of informative publications to help you.
- Support for Homeschooling Organizations
The National Center for Home Education, in addition to monitoring legislation, offers support to state and local support groups by providing information, regional and national leadership seminars, and networking.
- Valuable discounts
HSLDA has negotiated discounts on products and services we believe you will find truly valuable. Details...
- A Neighbor to Your Homeschooling "Neighbor"
Scripture says that we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Even if your family never needs to call HSLDA, your membership helps other homeschooling families who desperately need us! Each year, thousands of families are able to confidently step into the “unknown” of home schooling because they know they’ve got friends—like you—standing beside them.
- International Homeschooling
Home Schooling in the Military—HSLDA is able to provide a complete range of services to American homeschooling members in the military worldwide. American Citizens Residing in Other Countries—Although we cannot represent American families in foreign courts of law, we do offer assistance to American homeschooling families living in other countries by advocating changes in public policy and writing letters on their behalf.
HSLDA - Don't be at home without it!
Contact HSLDA at: www.hslda.org
Mail: HSLDA, PO Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134
HSLDA Homeschooling FAQ
- How many homeschoolers are there nationwide?
- Why do parents decide to home educate their children?
- Is homeschooling legal in all 50 states?
- What are the legal problems homeschoolers face and how does HSLDA attempt to solve them?
- What are some of the more restrictive states for homeschooling?
How many homeschoolers are there nationwide?
Today an estimated 1.6–2.0 million children are being taught at home by their parents.
- Brian Ray, Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, Broadman & Holman, 2002, p.7.
The number of families choosing to home school grows at an estimated annual rate of 7-15 percent. - Ray, pg. 8.
Why do parents decide to home educate their children?
In a web poll taken by 989 respondents, 49% said religious conviction is the main reason they continue home schooling; 15% positive social environment; 14% academic excellence; 12% specific needs of child; 5% curriculum choice; and 5% flexibility. 79% of respondents were HSLDA members; 21% were not. - HSLDA web poll, 5/22–5/29/02
Is homeschooling legal in all 50 states?
"Because the United States Constitution is the highest law of the land, home schooling has always been legal in all 50 states,” says Michael Farris. “It has been a bit of a fight to get the various members of the education and social services establishment to accept that fact, but great progress has been made. Currently about two-thirds of the states have specific laws authorizing and regulating home schooling. In the balance of the states, homeschoolers may legally operate as a small private school or provide ‘equivalent instruction.’ The details vary considerably from state to state and opinions about the law vary from district to district. What does not vary is HSLDA’s commitment to the constitutional right to teach one’s children at home.”
What are the legal problems homeschoolers face and how does HSLDA attempt to solve them?
Many families are contacted by school or government officials questioning the legality of homeschooling. The majority of legal challenges we handle are resolved amicably, through peaceful negotiations. However, thousands of families have faced situations which are far from pleasant. Hundreds have ended up in court or administrative hearings. For example:
Warrants were issued for the arrest of Mark and Chris DeJonge, homeschooling parents in Michigan who were homeschooling without a certified teacher. After being found guilty by lower courts, the DeJonges’ case was eventually appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. In 1993, the Court ruled that the teacher certification requirement for religious homeschoolers was unconstitutional, transforming Michigan from the worst state in the nation for homeschooling to one of the best. The criminal convictions of the DeJonge family were reversed.
HSLDA filed a federal civil rights action, Jeffrey, et al v. O'Donnell, et al, on behalf of nine homeschooling families against 11 oppressive school districts in 1986. In 1988, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that “the tutorial provision of Pennsylvania Compulsory Attendance Law. . . is unconstitutionally vague” and therefore, unenforceable. As a result of this victory, over twenty cases in court against HSLDA were won or dismissed.
In February of 1994, thousands of homeschoolers from across the nation flooded the U.S. House of Representatives with phone calls urging an amendment that protected homeschoolers from a teacher’s certification requirement in H.R. 6. An amendment protecting home and private schools was passed overwhelmingly.
The Lund and Reimche families in North Dakota were tried and convicted for the crime of homeschooling their children. HSLDA appealed their case to the North Dakota Supreme Court. The Court ruled in favor of the families and reversed their truancy convictions.
HSLDA has also worked successfully to achieve legislative victories by assisting state homeschooling organizations with their legislative goals. The following are just a few examples:
In 1989, Governor George A. Skinner signed into law North Dakota’s new homeschooling law, which repealed the state’s former teacher certification requirement for all teachers.
Kansas homeschoolers defeated H.B. 2392 in 1991, which would have required homeschool children to be taught by certified teachers.
In Oregon, Governor Barbara Roberts signed into law a bill allowing homeschoolers to participate with public school students in interscholastic activities.
Maryland homeschoolers convinced the Maryland Legislature to remove the home visit requirement from the department of education’s regulation.
In 1993, after making it through the Senate Education Committee with the help of an amendment, H.B. 1260 passed, repealing the South Dakota home visit law.
What are some of the more restrictive states for homeschooling?
The battlegrounds shift around the nation. Over the years we have faced fierce or multiple legal conflicts in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, Tennessee, New York, Rhode Island, and North Dakota just to name a few.
The following states do not require any sort of enrollment notice at all: AL, CT, DE, ID, IL, IN, MI, MO, NJ, OK, SC, TX. (12)
All other states (38) require some sort of filing. It may be annual, such as Virginia, or it may be once during the entire course of the home school program, such as Maryland.
Fewer than half the states (23) require some sort of assessment or evaluation or progress report. The states which require some sort of assessment are:
AR (grades 5,7, 10 only) CO (grades 3,5,7,9 and 11 only), FL, GA, HI, IA, LA, ME, MN, NC, ND (grades 3,4,6,8, and 11 only), NH, NY (grades 9-12 only), OH, OR (grades 3,5,8 and 10 only), PA, SC, SD (grades 2,4,8, and 11 only), TN (grades 5,7, and 9 only), VA, VT, WA, and WV.
In RI and MA (both of which are "approval" states), local school districts have the option of requiring annual evaluations. In CT, parents must submit work samples to show required subjects were taught, but it is not an evaluation or assessment.
The trend is toward removing testing. In the past 7 years, NV, NM and AZ dropped their testing requirements.
The following states require a family to obtain approval before homeschooling is considered to legally satisfy compulsory attendance: MA, RI ,and UT. In these states, families are at risk of prosecution if they homeschool without prior approval of the relevant governmental agency. This is a source of continual friction, anxiety, and misunderstanding since many governmental entities are very lackadaisical about sending approval letters. Some never do. Some do so only in a very haphazard fashion.