- Homeschool statute: Parents must submit annual notice to the Louisiana Department of Education, and must include either a packet of materials or an assessment (by standardized test or portfolio evaluation) with each subsequent year’s notice. Approval may be denied if a child is not making appropriate progress. Parents must offer 180 days of instruction and provide a “sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools.” There are no parent qualifications or bookkeeping requirements.
- Private school: Parents may operate homeschools as private schools. Parents must submit an annual enrollment report to the state Louisiana Department of Education and are required to provide 180 days of instruction. There are no parent qualification, subject, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
(1) Homeschool Option
Any child “who participates in a home study program approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education” is considered to be in attendance at a day school for the purposes of compulsory attendance laws. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236. For the law governing home study programs, see La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.1.
|Notification:||(1) Parents must submit an application to the Board of Education within 15 days of beginning to homeschool. This application includes basic student and contact information and “shall be approved if the parent certifies that the home study program will offer a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level.” This initial application must also include the child’s birth certificate. (2) Parents must submit an annual renewal application to the Board of Education; this renewal application must include an assessment for each child. A renewal application “shall be approved if the parent submits to the board satisfactory evidence that the program has in fact offered a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level.” Both initial and renewal applications may be submitted either online or through the mail. (3) “The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon receipt of such initial or renewal application, shall immediately notify the city or parish school superintendent within whose jurisdiction the home study is being conducted of such application and also shall notify said superintendent of subsequent actions taken by the board on the application.” See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.1(A, B, C, D).|
|Days or hours:||180 days. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.|
|Subjects:||Home study programs must “offer a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level.”|
|Assessment:||Each year’s renewal application must be accompanied by “satisfactory evidence that the program has in fact offered a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level.” This requirement may be satisfied in several ways.
(1) Packet of Materials. Parents may submit a “packet of materials” that includes “such documents as: (a) A complete outline of each of the subjects taught during the previous year, (b) Lists of books and materials used, (c) Copies of the student’s work, (d) Copies of standardized tests, (e) Statements by third parties who have observed the child’s progress, and (f) Any other evidence of the quality of the program being offered.”
(2) Test Scores. Parents may submit verification that the student has taken a standardized test and scored at or above grade level, or made one grade level of progress from the previous year.
(3) Statement from a Teacher. Parents may submit a statement from a certified teacher who has examined the family’s homeschool program and certifies that the child is “being taught in accordance with a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level or, in the case of children with mental or physical disabilities, at least equal to that offered by public schools to children with similar disabilities.” According to state statute, “Any such teacher evaluation provided for in this Subsection shall be subject to review and approval of the State Board of Education.”
|Intervention:||Renewal applications will only be approved by the Board of Education if the parent submits the required evidence, and this evidence shows that the parent is offering “a sustained curriculum of quality” or that the child is at grade level or making appropriate progress. If parents submit a packet of materials that does not satisfactorily demonstrate this, the Department of Education will “notify the parent of the deficiencies and request additional materials.” If a renewal application is denied, the Board of Education is required to notify the child’s city or parish school superintendent.|
|Other:||(1) At the parent’s request, schools must allow children in home study programs to take competency-based education examinations in the public school for a small fee. At the parent’s request, the Department of Education is required to administer competency-based education examinations to any child in a home study program or private school for a small fee. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.1(E, F). (2) When a child is 11 years old, the parents must submit “satisfactory evidence of current immunization against meningococcal disease” (or a waiver stating religious, medical, or personal objections) to the Board of Education. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:170.4(A)(1)(c).|
(2) Private School Option
Parents may choose to classify their homeschools as “registered nonpublic schools” rather than as home study programs. State law requires that a school be “an institution for the teaching of children” that consists of “an adequate physical plant . . . instructional staff members, and students.” The Department of Education accepts operating as a private school as a valid homeschool option. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.
|Notification:||(1) Parents must “report to the state Department of Education their total attendance as of the thirtieth day of their school term or session.” This can be done online or through the mail and must include the school’s name, the school year, contact information, and the total number of students enrolled. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:232(C). (2) If a child is withdrawn from public school to attend a homeschool operating as a private school, whether in the middle of or at the end of a school year, the homeschool parents (in the role of private school administrators) must provide written notice of the child’s enrollment in said homeschool operating as a private school to the child’s previous public school within ten days of enrollment. This notification must include the child’s name, date of birth, gender, and race. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:221.3(B)(2).|
|Days or hours:||180 days. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.|
|Other:||When a child is 11 years old, parents must submit “satisfactory evidence of current immunization against meningococcal disease” (or a waiver stating religious, medical, or personal objections) as a condition of enrollment in a nonpublic school. This simply means that homeschool parents operating their homeschools as nonpublic schools must keep these immunization records on file. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:170.4(A)(1)(b).|
Services Available to Homeschooled Students
|Part-time enrollment:||Whether or not to allow homeschooled students to enroll in individual public school classes is up to the school district.|
|Athletics:||Private school homeschoolers have been barred from public school athletics since 1970. In 2010, the Louisiana state legislature passed a bill granting Home Study Program homeschoolers access to public school athletics, but in 2013 the Louisiana Supreme Court struck this statute.|
|Special needs:||All students have access to special needs testing in their local public schools. Students in homeschools operated as nonpublic schools may also have access to special needs services offered through these schools, but students enrolled in home study programs likely will not.|
|Other:||“Notwithstanding any rule, regulation, or other provision of law to the contrary, a high school diploma awarded by a home study program approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shall be deemed by all public postsecondary educational institutions, all state departments, agencies, boards, and commissions, and all other state and local governmental entities to have all of the rights and privileges afforded to a high school diploma awarded by a state-approved nonpublic school.” See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.1(G).|
In 1980, Rep. Woody Jenkins saw a news article about a homeschooling family that was being prosecuted because their homeschool did not meet the state definition of “school.” Concerned, he proposed the Louisiana Private Education Deregulation Act, which was heavily supported by Christian school advocates and passed later that year. This act created the state’s home study law and revised the state’s private school law, removing the requirement that a private school must have fifty pupils. Ever since that date, homeschooling has been permitted under either statute.
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice.