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reporting enrollment: how hoosier homeschoolers should interpret indiana compulsory attendance law

We all want our children to grow up to be well educated, intelligent, productive citizens. No doubt, this desire is one of the reasons why you are considering homeschooling. Likewise, you are understandably curious to know how the law treats homeschoolers. Well get ready for some great news!

Indiana is probably one of the top five states in the U. S. in which to educate your children at home.

There are two things that make one state's education environment better than another:

1) The actual education laws.

2) The Education Establishment's general attitude towards parents who take responsibility for the education of their own children.

As for Indiana, let's just say that you are as free to choose to home educate your children as you are to choose their meals, clothing and television programs. Your children are not the state's responsibility; they're yours. In Indiana the laws support private education in the home.

You mean I can just decide to homeschool... then do it?


But aren't there papers to fill out? Certifications, notifications and permissions? Files to file?


You don't need a license to procreate. Why would you need one to educate? Think about it: Most of the useful social and academic skills your child needed in order to enter First Grade (ready to learn!) were learned from you, or while in your care. Schools had nothing to do with it. To homeschool, you just keep going. Just skip (public) school.

Read it, Learn it, Live it

The following link goes directly to the part of the Indiana Department of Education Code that explains where homeschoolers (non-accredited, nonpublic schools) stand in the grand scheme of things. It's the Compulsory School Attendance Law. You should print it out and read it sometime. It's not on the ISTEP, so don't worry, you won't be tested on it.

Indiana Compulsory School Attendance Law

To save your brain from hurting, let's explain this in a way we can all understand...

In English

Simply: According to Indiana education code, the only thing that is requested of parents who homeschool in Indiana is to report the enrollment of their children in their homeschool, (IMPORTANT! READ THIS CAREFULLY!) WHEN THEY ARE ASKED TO DO SO (the words say, "...upon request...") BY THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OR THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT. Those key words -- "upon request" are very important. Here is a fact: The majority of homeschooling parents have never been asked by anyone (with legal authority) to report the enrollment of their homeschooled children, so they didn't.

The second, minor requirement of home educators is keeping attendance. The law says this:

IC 20-33-2-20
Attendance records
  Sec. 20. (a) An accurate daily record of the attendance of each student who is subject to compulsory school attendance under this chapter shall be kept by every public and nonpublic school.
      (c) In a nonpublic school, the record shall be required to be kept solely to verify the enrollment and attendance of a student upon request of the:
        (1) state superintendent; or
        (2) superintendent of the school corporation in which the nonpublic school is located.

Back to English

You may be asked for this information ONLY by your local public school Superintendent, or the State Superintendent of Schools. No one else is officially sanctioned to see, interpret or make judgments on your schooling based upon your attendance records, including your grocer, your doctor, social worker, your friends, family or neighbor.

What should your attendance records look like? Yours is as good as mine. Check marks in your day planner, Palm Pilot or Kitchen Calendar? Stickers in a notebook? Sure. Whatever.

Having spent thousands of hours over the past decade reading correspondence with homeschoolers throughout the state, I have not once come across a mention of anyone having to turn in their attendance records for inspection by some school official (who was supposed to be looking at it.) It's a silly waste of time, in my opinion and I don't suspect many parents have the time to keep records like public schools do. But hey, some people are that organized. God bless 'em!

Does this mean what I think it means? What about accountability?

Well... depends on what YOU think accountability means. Does filling out a form make a parent more accountable? And to whom?

Seems to me, over the past decade, tens of thousands of "unreported, uncounted" privately homeschooled children went on to finish their educational experience and lead productive, happy lives. Every single one, without the blessing, certification, permission or apparent knowledge, assistance or oversight of one single government education teacher, employee or official. Imagine that!

It's worth spending a few seconds pondering. I'll wait....

Why point this out? Because it illustrates the fact that only the Department of Education, with the Compulsory Attendance Law, finds it necessary and important to account for your children in your homeschool. Yet reporting this does nothing to actually educate your children. This process only tracks them in order to fulfill the compulsory attendance law, that says that all children must attend a school. Some might go so far as to say, "This enrollment form is worthless and a waste of tax dollars and time. This single piece of paper does nothing but put you and your children in a useless database somewhere."

The good news is: Until parents of homeschooled kids are officially and legally asked to report the enrollment of their handful of children, we can happily save the tax payers a few hundred thousand dollars a year in useless paperwork by waiting patiently.

By all means, if you are asked to report the enrollment of YOUR children in YOUR private home school, by someone with the legal authority to ask (State Superintendent of Schools or your local public school Superintendent) then do it. THAT is the law. Otherwise, don't sweat it. Just start or continue to homeschool as you always have. Keep some kind of attendance record. Piece of cake.

How do I start homeschooling?

I know this sounds too simplistic, but it is what it is. All you need to do is start! If your child has never been enrolled in a public school, announce to your child that you're beginning, then celebrate your new adventure in self learning. (Ice-cream during public school hours is always a good start to the 'school' year.)

If you need to **transfer your child out of public school, get that done and then head to the ice-cream parlor.

Life is good when you are free to learn instead of bound to school. Enjoy your family.



There are resources galore on the Indiana Home Educators' Network (IHEN.org) web site.

Start by visiting the New Homeschooler section and the Getting Started: You can Homeschool in Indiana Brochure.

Read our cut and dried "Indiana Code in English" page on IHEN.org if you want to see the actual code explained.

You will also want to subscribe to the IndianaHomeschoolers statewide e-list to continue to receive sage advice and ideas from some of the most helpful Hoosier Homeschoolers in the state.

Transferring from a Public School?

**If you are transferring your child out of a public school, please read the comments on transferring to your private school (homeschool) and IHEN's "letter of transfer" sample on IHEN.org.



*This commentary was written by Benjamin Bennett with advice from fellow IHEN Volunteer Advisors. His opinions may not agree with the policies or opinions of the entire Indiana Home Educators' Network, members or subscribers. The statements in this article should not to be confused with legal advice. This article is opinion based on experience and nothing more. Consult an attorney if you're worried. To discuss other important issues with homeschooling parents throughout the state, we encourage you to subscribe to our statewide discussion e-list, IndianaHomeschoolers.


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Indiana is probably one of the top five states in the U.S. in which to educate your children at home.






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The Indiana Code
Now in English! :-)

We took a crack at explaining the Indiana education code in words we can understand. It's not legal advice, but it's the best we can do. Read IHEN's Indiana Legal Code Document. We also added a new commentary on The Reporting Enrollment Issue. Both are available now on

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