enrollment: how hoosier homeschoolers should interpret indiana compulsory
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
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
To save your brain from hurting, let's explain
this in a way we can all understand...
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
The second, minor requirement of home educators
is keeping attendance. The law says this:
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
(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;
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
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
It's worth spending a few seconds pondering.
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
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.