Homeschooling in Montana

Sue | May 18th, 2013 - 4:02 pm

As promised, we will explore the laws which apply to homeschooling in Montana. We have been homeschooling our four children since 2006 as each has come of school age and found this state to be very accommodating to homeschooling.  As a home school family we have only been respected and applauded for teaching our children. I have never had anyone scorn our choice.

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OK, now for the laws governing homeschooling here in Montana. Please note that this is an article based on our personal experience interacting with the laws for Gallatin County including Manhattan and Belgrade, Montana. This is for informational purposes and is not intended as an exhaustive expository covering the laws. Be sure to do your own research on the subject as well. At the end of this article are two website resources from which much of the technical information was gathered from.

As was mentioned in our last article “Christian Homeschooling” the Montana legislature recognized homeschooling as early as 1895. As of 2006 there was a total of about 4,000 home school students in the state. This accounted for roughly 8% of all school age children.

School laws, and Montana home school laws dictate that children 7 years old or older must attend school. Home school is listed in Section 2e of the law as an acceptable form of education.

Section 20-5-109 lists non-public school requirements for compulsory enrollment exception. To quality for a non-public or home school the home educator:

(1) Has to keep attendance records for each student and disease immunization records. These records have to be available to the county superintendent of schools upon request. (Note: For the immunization records you can file a religion exception form which has to be notarized, in place of the immunization record.)

(2) Provide at least the minimum aggregate hours of pupil instruction in accordance with 20-1-301 and 20-1-302 .

(3) Must be housed in a building that complies with applicable local health and safety regulations.

(4) Shall provide an organized course of study which includes instruction in the subjects required of public schools as a basic instructional program pursuant to 20-7-111.

(5) In the case of home schools, shall notify the county of schools, of the county in which the home school is located, in each school fiscal year of the student’s attendance at the school.

Further information can be gathered from 20-5-111 which states the rights and responsibilities of the parent who provides home school — rights of the home school school child- subject to the provisions of 20-5-109, a parent has the authority to instruct his child, step child, or ward in home school is solely responsible for:

(1) The educational philosophy of the school.

(2) The selection of educational materials, curriculum, and textbooks.

(3) The time, place, and method of instruction.

(4) The evaluation of the home school instruction.

Law 20-1-301 states the school fiscal year begins July 1st and ends June 30th.

The minimum hours required by grade are: (a) 720 hours for grades 1-3 and (b) 1080 hours for grades 4-12. They also have a note stating that this time includes the minutes that passing between class changes but it does not include un-instructed recess time.

Here I would like to note that we are located in Gallatin county and the superintendent accepts either a chart detailing the hours for each student or if you keep all of your records and daily planning log they will also accept a letter from the parent stating that the specific student has completed all of the course work for the year.

Due to recent changes to the laws home schooled students are allowed to participate in public school sports. Tim Tebow is a great example of home schooler that also excelled in sports.

Military enrollment for home schooled pupils has greatly improved and dramatically changed in recent years. Today it is much easier for homeschoolers to join due to amendments to the Defense Reauthorization Act. Under this act home schooled students have been reclassified from a Tier 3 (which is equal to high school drop outs) to a Tier 1 status, which is the equivalent ranking awarded to public high school graduates.

I believe to be accepted into colleges in Montana a home school student only needs to complete a SAT or ACT test. A GED is no longer required.

At times these precious freedoms of being allowed to home school has been challenged and even threatened. In 1980 Mike Greeley, attorney general, issued an opinion stating he believed homeschooling was ended with the 1971 legislature. At other times other bills have been proposed which limited who could home school. One such bill a few years stated that homeschooling could only be done by a person with a teaching degree. From my understanding, in each case homeschoolers have flooded the capital of Helena, lobbied, and filed lawsuits to stop such injustices. So if you home school in Montana be sure to thank the Lord for your freedom and keep abreast of what legislation is coming down the pike.

Home schooling is a privilege. Things like the current Montana home school law, the amendments to the Defense Reauthorization Act, and the new laws allowing home schooled children to participate in public school sports may never have happened unless homeschoolers had not had the reputation of outstanding students. Many secular colleges today are actively seeking home school students.

Other privileges have been taken away from us as a people over the years due to people abusing the liberty. So be sure to provide a very good portrayal of home schooling to people in general. Over the years I can’t tell you how many people have come up to us at restaurants or in the store and asked us if we home school. I also can’t count how many compliments we have been given by individuals. Often I have people remark that they wish they themselves had been home schooled or they wish they could home school their children. And more than anything, remember that all believers are a reflection of Christ. How do you portray Jesus Christ Himself through your families’ testimony? The world is watching.

For more information on Montana home school laws please visit:
www.mtche.org/mchelaw.htm

www.mtche.org/mchefaq.htm

Headwaters Baptist Church

 

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