- Alternative instruction provision: Idaho law exempts students being “privately instructed” from compulsory school attendance. Parents must provide instruction in “subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of Idaho.” There are no notification, parent qualification, instruction time, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
“The parent or guardian of any child . . . shall cause the child to be instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of the state of Idaho. To accomplish this, a parent or guardian shall either cause the child to be privately instructed by, or at the direction of, his parent or guardian; or enrolled in a public school . . . or private or parochial school.” See Idaho Code § 33-202.
|Days or hours:||None.|
|Subjects:||Parents must “cause the child to be instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of Idaho.” These subjects include language arts and communication, mathematics, science, and social studies. Depending on the grade level, additional subjects such as fine arts, health, and physical education are also required.|
|Intervention:||None. Several court cases have limited the school districts’ ability to ensure that parents are providing the required instruction.|
Services Available to Homeschooled Students
|Part-time enrollment:||Homeschooled students have full access to dual enrollment in public school classes and extracurriculars. See Idaho Code § 33-203.|
|Athletics:||Homeschooled students may gain full access to participation in nonacademic public school activities through dual enrollment. These students need not enroll in academic courses but are nevertheless considered dual enrollment students for the purposes of school funding. Parents must demonstrate that the child is at grade level through either standardized test or portfolio review. Schools receive state funding based for homeschool participation. Idaho Code § 33-203.|
|Special needs:||Homeschooled students have access to special needs testing in their local public schools, and may also have access to special needs services offered through these schools through Idaho’s dual enrollment law.|
In 1963, the Idaho legislature passed a compulsory attendance statute that exempted children who were “otherwise comparably instructed, as may be determined by the board of trustees of the school district in which the child resides,” from compulsory school attendance. In Bayes v. State, decided in 1989, a homeschool father argued that the statute was overly vague. The court of appeals disagreed with him, pointing out that he had been given clear requirements to follow to demonstrate that the education he was providing his children was comparable. However, the statute continued to be disputed. In 1990, a local judge ruled in Welker v. Independent School District of Boise City No. 1 that homeschool parents have no obligation to provide information requested by the school district. That same year, the Idaho’s Fourth District Court found in In the Interest of Patterson that the school district had the burden to prove that a homeschool was not in compliance with the law, and that the burden did not shift to the homeschool parents to prove compliance.
On April 8, 1992, the state legislature passed House Bill 502, which was introduced by Fred Tilman, a homeschooling father and state legislator. This bill revised the state’s compulsory attendance statute, exempting children who were “otherwise comparably instructed” and thus removing the board of trustees of the school district to determine whether this comparable instruction was taking place. On April 3, 2009, the governor signed Senate Bill 1017, revising the compulsory attendance statute to remove the word “comparably.” The statute now reads that a parent may meet the requirements of the compulsory attendance statute if they “cause the child to be privately instructed by, or at the direction of, his parent or guardian” and that this instruction must be provided “in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of the state of Idaho.”
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice.