Laws & Policies Regarding Home Education in Connecticut
We offer this information about homeschooling for superintendents, legislators, media, agencies, departments, and the public. Parents, you need to know and understand your rights, and the following information will help you to achieve that. In Connecticut there are two main, very important facts about homeschooling that needs to be understood first; the difference between a policy and a statute (law). The best place for anyone to go to get accurate information about CT state laws and policies about home education, is straight to the homeschoolers. We’re hear to inform those that need to learn this information.
There are only a few laws relevant to home education. Parents should be familiar with these. You can also educate others about the facts. They are listed in the Connecticut General Statutes
CGS CHAPTER 168, SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN, and a couple of statutes from CGS Chapter 172. They explain that the Duties of Parents include they are to instruct their children, unless they send them to public or private school. When your child is not enrolled in school, the school does not owe your child anything, including special education services. Parents can obtain services for their child independently, using their own chosen providers via medical insurance. If your child is enrolled in public or private school, you do need to give the school a Letter of Withdrawal (LOW) to ‘unenroll’ (withdraw) them, so they will not be subject to truancy statutes.
Sec. 10-184. Duties of parents. School attendance age requirements
CGS 10-184. Duties of Parents. “All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments.”
Comment: That one sentence, above, is the most important statute. It’s both the compulsory attendance and compulsory education portions of the statute for home educators. The following section, that continues the remainder of 10-184, is the compulsory attendance portion of the statute as it pertains to children who are not being instructed by parents, and who must then be enrolled in public school.
Subject to the provisions of this section and section 10-15c, each parent or other person having control of a child five years of age and over and under eighteen years of age shall cause such child to attend a public school regularly during the hours and terms the public school, in the district in which such child resides is in session, unless such child is a high school graduate or the parent or person having control of such child is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.
Comment: “elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction” means private school.
10-184 cont., For the school year commencing July 1, 2011, and each school year thereafter, the parent or person having control of a child seventeen years of age may consent, as provided in this section, to such child’s withdrawal from school. Such parent or person shall personally appear at the school district office and sign a withdrawal form. Such withdrawal form shall include an attestation from a guidance counselor, school counselor or school administrator of the school that such school district has provided such parent or person with information on the educational options available in the school system and in the community. The parent or person having control of a child five years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is six years of age and the parent or person having control of a child six years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is seven years of age. The parent or person shall exercise such option by personally appearing at the school district office and signing an option form. The school district shall provide the parent or person with information on the educational opportunities available in the school system.”
Sec. 10-184a. Refusal of Certain Parents to Consent to Use of Special Education Programs or ServicesSpecial education programs or services for children educated in a home or private school
Sec. 10-184a. Special education programs or services for children educated in a home or private school. (a) The provisions of sections 10-76a to 10-76h, inclusive, shall not be construed to require any local, regional or state board of education to provide special education programs or services for any child whose parent or guardian has chosen to educate such child in a home or private school in accordance with the provisions of section 10-184 and who refuses to consent to such programs or services.
Sec. 10-184b. Waiver provisions not applicable to equivalent instruction authority of parents
Sec. 10-184b. Waiver provisions not applicable to equivalent instruction authority of parents. Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes or public or special act granting the Commissioner of Education the authority to waive provisions of the general statutes, the Commissioner of Education shall not limit the authority of parents or guardians to provide for equivalent instruction pursuant to section 10-184.
Sec. 10-198a. Policies and procedures concerning truants
Sec. 10-198a. Policies and procedures concerning truants. (a) For purposes of this section and sections 10-198c and 10-220, “truant” means a child age five to eighteen, inclusive, who is enrolled in a public or private school and has four unexcused absences from school in any one month or ten unexcused absences from school in any school year .
Sec. 10-249. Enumeration of children of compulsory school age in school districts and by state departments having jurisdiction over such children.
(a) The board of education of each local and regional school district shall annually determine by age the number of children of compulsory school age who reside within the jurisdiction of such school district as of January first of each year. Such determination shall be made by (1) enumeration of each such child individually or (2) any reasonable means of accounting approved by the Commissioner of Education.
Sec. 10-251. Penalty for refusing to give age of child.
Any person having control of a child under twenty-one years of age who wilfully refuses to give the name and age of such child, and such information concerning the school attendance of such child as this chapter requires, shall be fined not more than twenty-five dollars.
The CT State Board of Education adopted a “Suggested Procedure for Home Instruction“. It is only a Suggested Procedure on Home Instruction, per the policy C-4 and C-14 Guidelines. This is not, nor has it ever been, required by law; it is only a policy. Following the suggested procedure is at the complete discretion of the parents who will be homeschooling their child. Homeschool parents at that time (1990) did not agree with that. Policies do not carry the force of law, and they are optional for parents who plan to homeschool. The NOI form *suggests* that homeschoolers *must* file a Notice of Intent (NOI) to homeschool. The use of the words “suggested” and “must” in the same sentence, was poorly designed and written. It has, for many years, been a point of confusion for some people. Most homeschool parents do not tile the NOI. There are a number of reasons that we do not recommend that parents file the NOI, which is part of the history of home education in CT. However, we emphasize that it is parental choice.
Suggested Procedure for Home Instruction: The Notice of Intent (NOI) and Portfolio Review (PR).
We are providing a copy of the NOI document for you to read. If you choose to file it with the local school district, it is good for one school year. For future school years, you can file it again, or change your mind if you have filed it in the past and discontinue filing it. It is the parent’s choice, period. CHN and NHELD have always told parents it is fully their choice to file the NOI and to do the annual portfolio review, without taking a position for or against it. As of 2019, when CT home educators responded to an legislative attack (SB-874, Secs. 17 & 18) on homeschool freedom (by those who also have zero homeschool experience), we now recommend that homeschoolers do not file the NOI or do a PR. Why? We were lied to as a community. The attempted legislation would have mandated that we appear in person every year to “register” to homeschool in CT. So, what? We learned that the data collected would then be turned directly over to DCF. If that is not a repeat of the Salem Witch Hunts, what is? We are innocent until proven guilty, and we are not criminals, nor should be treated as such. Home education is statistically, and by far, the safest education option for children. That is true across the country. A handful of naysayers with an agenda, don’t change that. We are grateful for the majority of legislators who saw through the scam, and were not duped. They voted to sustain CT home educators’ freedom from governmental oversight. CT home educated children have, for decades, been raised up to transition into adulthood as successful business entrepreneurs and in many instances, college and university students.
What are the C-4 & C-14 State Policy Guidelines?
The C-4/C-14 State Guidelines are the policies that shaped the Suggested Procedure on Home Instruction. Parents, remember that these are state policy documents and not at all required by CT Statute (law). These Guidelines are not even in compliance with the law, and we recommend that parents do not comply with these policies. Most parents do not file the NOI. There are multiple reasons not to do so. For more information, contact CHN.
C-14 (or C-4) GUIDELINES
From: Vincent L. Ferrandino
Date: July 15, 1994
REVISED PROCEDURES CONCERNING REQUESTS FROM PARENTS TO EDUCATE THEIR CHILD AT HOME
On November 7, 1990, The State Board of Education adopted the following policy on home instruction.
The State Board of Education acknowledges the right of parents to instruct their children at home as an alternative to public school attendance; and advises local and regional boards of education, where such child would otherwise be attending public school, to acknowledge home instruction when the parent or person having control of a child between the ages of 7 and 16 is able to show that the child is receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.
The intent of these procedures is twofold: First, to provide local boards of education with suggestions concerning procedures to be utilized when parents wish to educate their child at home; and second, to assist parents in making requests to educate their child at home. The suggested procedures outline a series of steps in a process which should be conducted in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation by parents and local boards of education.
II. Statutory Authority
Section 10-184 of the Connecticut General Statutes (attached) describes the duties of parents for educating their children. It requires that parents or persons having control of children over five years of age (optional until age six however) and under sixteen years of age shall cause such children “…to attend a public day school regularly …” However Section 10-184 allows the parent or person having control of such child to educate the child in other than the public schools if they are ” …able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.” The duties of local boards of education are described in Section 10-220 of the Connecticut General Statutes (attached). As part of their identified duties, local boards of education are required to ” …cause each child of seven years of age and over or under sixteen living in the school district to attend school in accordance with the provisions of Section 10-184 …”. If parents wish to educate their child in their home, they must show equivalency as described in Section 10-184 and local boards of education must determine whether or not such a child is receiving equivalent instruction as required by Section 10-220.
The following procedures have been developed in order to assist parents and local boards of education to work together in such a way as to assure children receive the education to which they are entitled by law.
We would deem compliance with these suggested procedures as satisfying the requirements of Sections 10-184 and 10-220 of the General Statutes.
Suggested Procedures for Home Instruction
In determining whether the education provided a child is equivalent to the instruction provided in the local schools, it is recommended that the local board of education observe the following procedures:
A. Parents must file with the superintendent of schools in the town in which they reside a notice of intent form which provides basic information about the program to be provided to their child. A notice of Intent will be effective for up to one school year (see attached).
B. Filing must occur within ten days of the start of the home instruction program.
C. The school district will receive the notice of intent, check it for completeness and keep it as part of the district’s permanent records. A complete form will be one which provides basic program information including name of teacher, subjects to be taught and days of instruction, and the teacher’s methods of assessment.
D. A parent, by filing a notice of intent, acknowledges full responsibility for the education of their child in accordance with the requirements of state law. Receipt of a notice of intent in no way constitutes approval by a school district of the content or effectiveness of a program of home instruction.
E. If a parent fails to file a notice of intent or files an incomplete form then a certified letter shall be sent to the parent requesting compliance within ten days.
F. An annual portfolio review will be held with the parents and school officials to determine if instruction in the required courses has been given.
G. Any continued refusal by the parent to comply with the reasonable request of the school district for completion and filing of the notice of intent, or to participate in an annual portfolio review may cause the child to be considered truant
H. A school district should not accept nor require a notice of intent for any child younger than seven years or older than sixteen years.
I. The school district shall record the number of students instructed at home on the appropriate form issued by the State Department of Education.
The Notice of Intent (NOI) is part of the suggested procedures contained in the C-14 Guidelines. Filing this notice is voluntary; there is no statute stating the NOI is mandatory. Following is the state form that includes a minimum of information. If you want to file the NOI, then the information below is the only information that you should be asked to provide. If you choose to file the NOI, you may want to participate in an end-of-school-year Portfolio Review (PR) if, and only if, your local school district requests you to do so. At a PR, a parent “must be able to show that instruction occurred”. Period. The NOI and the PR are not required by law, so both are optional for parents.
Sample Notice of Intent
NOTICE OF INTENT FOR INSTRUCTION OF STUDENT AT HOME
Name of Student:
Date of Birth:
Name of Teacher:
Teacher’s Telephone Number:
Subjects to be taught are (yes or no):
Citizenship (including a study of town, state, and federal governments)
Total number of days scheduled for instruction:
Teacher’s method of assessment of student progress:
An annual portfolio review will be held on or about:
I acknowledge and accept full responsibility for the education of my
child in accordance with the requirements of state law.
Parent’s Name ______________________________
I only acknowledge receipt of this form and render no opinion as to the
appropriateness of the planned program.
Superintendent’s Name ______________________________
CT Homeschool Attorney
Deborah G. Stevenson: National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD)
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Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson became involved in legal work as a result of homeschooling her children in CT; she became involved in protecting her right to homeschool as a parent even before she began attending law school. She currently practices Education Law and Appellate law privately in addition to working as Executive Director of NHELD, LLC. Although NHELD offers information regarding federal education laws, Stevenson herself is Connecticut’s most prominent legal advocate for homeschoolers.