You can learn about Massachusetts Homeschooling Law by clicking on Home School Legal Defense Association’s webpage at HSLDA MA State Law, as well as by viewing the MA Homeschool Guidelines below.
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Please remember to renew your HSLDA membership. Our support for this organization is important for homeschoolers nationwide — and even internationally, as they have been helping with the difficult German situation. Not to mention that it is the best kind of insurance policy you could have against those “long-shot” possibilities of interference from your town or our oh-so-tolerant state.
HOMESCHOOL GUIDELINES AT-A-GLANCE
School Authority Oversight
Oversight of home education is a local function in Massachusetts. Because there are nearly as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschooling families, local oversight enables school authorities to exercise discretion and flexibility in evaluating home education plans and student progress. In using their oversight function, school authorities may ask for certain types of information (elaborated below), but they must not condition their approval on requirements that are not essential.
…the approval of a home school proposal must not be conditioned on requirements that are not essential to the State interest in assuring that ‘all the children shall be educated. (Charles)
…the State… cannot apply institutional standards to this non-institutionalized setting. (Brunelle)
The courts have emphasized consistently that parents and school authorities proceed cooperatively to “expedite approval.” (Charles, Searles, Ivan) In cases where differences cannot be resolved cooperatively, the school authority assumes the burden of proof in any subsequent legal proceedings. School authorities should consult local counsel for legal advice.
Responsibilities of School Authorities and Parents
School authority’s responsibility
- Enforce the compulsory attendance laws
- Ensure that each student in his or her district receives an education
- Expedite approval of home education plans that meet the statutory standard
- Give prior notification to school authorities of their home education plan, which equals the public school’s “in thoroughness and efficiency,” (Charles) prior to removing their child from school.
- Comply with an evaluation program mutually agreed upon by school and parents.
Approval and Evaluation
- School officials may ask for information regarding “qualifications of the parent or parents who will be instructing the children,” Charles at but the parents are not required to have any specific educational credentials.
- School officials may inquire about subjects the child will study, length of the homeschool year, and hours of structured learning time (603 C.M.R. 27.01, Charles). The educational plan for a home educated student need not replicate the public school’s grade equivalent educational offerings. Following a schedule is not an important consideration in a home school where “…the perception and use of time… are different.” (Brunelle)
- School officials may identify teaching materials, but “only to determine subject and grade level… school officials may not… use this access to dictate the manner in which the subjects will be taught.” (Charles at 339) The Brunelle Court pointed out that“…some of the most effective curricular materials…may not be tangible. For example, travel, community service, visits to educationally enriching facilities and places, and meeting with various resource people, can provide important learning experiences apart from the four corners of a text or workbook.” (Brunelle)
- School officials and parents should agree on a method of evaluation that may include one of the following approaches: standardized testing, periodic progress report, dated work samples/portfolio or third party evaluation. Home visits may not be required as a condition of approval.