This commentary will refer to the paragraph numbers of the list of Home School Requirements (HSR), (section C, page 14.) It is suggested that you refer to it periodically while reading the commentary.
HSR notes that the six items listed are the minimal requirements for the lawful operation of a home school in Kentucky. Home schooling is an area whose upper limits are bounded only by an individual’s initiative and creativity, so any home schooling family may exceed these minimal requirements many times over. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the bottom line required to operate a home school legally in Kentucky.
1. Kentucky compulsory attendance statutes require that children from the age of 6 to 16 must be enrolled in either a public or private school. Home schoolers are in no way exempt from that law. Some points to remember:
a) Current Kentucky law requires that any child who is six(6) years of age, or who may become six (6) years of age by October 1st, must be enrolled in a primary school program. A primary school program means that part of the elementary school program in which children are enrolled from the time they begin school until they are ready to enter the fourth grade. Formally this was called kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade. Most students are in the primary school program for four (4) years. A student must successfully complete the primary school program before entering the fourth grade.
Any child who is five (5) years of age, or who may become five (5) years of age by October 1st, may enter a primary school program. If you elect to suspend formal schooling with your child until the age of six, he or she will be a year behind his or her peers in terms of the conventional grading system. This is not a problem necessarily, simply something which you should consider while making your decision. If you wish to avoid this issue, then begin your child in the primary school program when he or she is five years old.
b) Kentucky law states that if a child is not enrolled in public school either the private school or parent of the child must inform the local school board of that child’s whereabouts during the school year. Your notification letter to the local school board allows the superintendent to be in compliance with the portion of the compulsory attendance law that requires him to account for every child in his district.
c) When you write your local school board, you should state that your children will be attending a particular school, giving the name and address of the school. You must also include the name, age and home address of each child in your school. You need not include anything else in the letter whatsoever.
We do not recommend that you include test scores, letters of recommendations, or any other material since it implies that you are requesting permission from the school board to teach your children at home. You are not requesting permission, simply informing them of the situation.
d) The letter to the school board should be sent within ten days of the beginning of school and will need to be sent each year you home school. We agree that it is wise for you to keep a copy of the letter and any other correspondence affecting your children or the operation of your ome school.
e) As a result of religious or philosophical convictions, some parents elect not to notify the local school district of their home schooling activities. It is not our purpose to comment one way or the other on these convictions; however, it is important to note that there are civil penalties which could include monetary fines and incarceration for persons convicted of non-compliance with compulsory education laws; anyone who elects to disregard the reporting requirements should be aware of the risks involved.
2. Kentucky law requires that you educate your children at least as long as the public schools in your district. At the present time that number is 175 instructional days, 6 hours per day (totaling 1,050 hours per calendar year) in most districts. You need not educate your children on the same days that the public schools in your area are in operation, and you may educate your children more days than the public schools require.
3. This section of the HSR is relatively self-explanatory. Kentucky law does not limit in any way the subjects or the point of view, which will be included in your home school. It does require, however, that you teach the basics in the English language.
4. HSR requires that private schools, including home schools, keep scholarship records of the students in that school. Furthermore, it requires that the scholarship reports be summarized or tabulated at the same interval as the grading period of the local public school district, normally every nine weeks. This particular provision of the law has caused a great deal of confusion among both public school officials and home school parents in the past. A few points of clarification:
a) This provision does not require that the home school parents submit these reports to their local school district, state department of education, or anyone else. It simply requires that they maintain the records in some sort of ongoing fashion.
b) HSR makes no statement concerning the form which these scholarship reports must take. The form may be a traditional report card, a portfolio of exemplary work, a narrative assessment or any one of many other forms of assessment. The point seems to be that there needs to be some reasonable record of academic accomplishment maintained by the parents in the home school.
c) We would recommend that whatever your preferred form of student assessment, the records be kept in a formal, organized manner for two reasons: first, this will be your child’s permanent record of educational accomplishment. It is only right that the records be in a form that is concise and useful. Second, in the event your records should ever come under scrutiny by someone else, the quality of your school will be judged to some degree by the quality of your records. While it may be the case that records kept on the back of envelopes, calendar pages, or paper plates do meet the letter of the law, such a casual approach to record keeping would raise doubts in the minds of skeptics.
5. Keep an attendance book. It can be a book you obtain from writing the state, a grade book you purchase at a local office supply store, a computer log, or any other reasonable method for maintaining attendance. Be sure that you can account for at least the minimum required hours (1,050 hours) per year in your records.
Many families combine the requirements of this provision and provision #4 above in one grade book which keeps both attendance and scholarship records.
6. HSR #6 is one of the most controversial portions of the home school law in Kentucky. It provides that private schools shall be open to inspection by directors of pupil personnel or officials of the Department of Education. It is believed that this was originally written without awareness of the existence of home schools, places that were both homes and schools. As a result, the provisions of this statute appears to conflict with the rights given by the U.S. Constitution to every American citizen against unreasonable search and seizure.
It is our understanding that “home inspections” by school personnel will stop at the threshold unless consent is given by the homeowner. In the absence of imminent threat (the house is on fire, for instance) entry into a private home can only occur with the presentation of a lawfully executed warrant. All homeschoolers should be aware of this fact.
On the other hand, if genuine concerns exist in the mind of school personnel as to the legitimacy of a particular home school, it may be in that family’s interest to meet with the school official, preferably at a neutral site, in order to address any questions.
In conclusion, we recommend consideration of the following:
a) In the event you are informed of an impending visit, talk with the official and try to agree upon a suitable time and place outside your home to review your records.
b) In the event a home visit is unannounced or in cases where prior mutually agreeable arrangements cannot be made, we recommend that you seriously consider the ramifications of allowing government officials to enter your home without warrant. It is certainly your prerogative to invite anyone to see your home school: friends, family or local school officials. It is another thing for you to accede to their demand to review your material in your home.
c) Furthermore, we suggest that you conduct your home school in such an exemplary manner that no one in your community will be concerned about the quality of the job you are doing.