Maryland

Maryland’s homeschool statute offers two options:

  • School district: Parents must provide annual notice of intent to homeschool to the local superintendent, provide “regular, thorough instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age,” and maintain a portfolio of each student’s work and allow the local superintendent to review it up to three times a year. There are no parent qualification requirements. Should the superintendent determine that the required instruction is not being provided, the parent will be given the opportunity to correct deficiencies.
  • Umbrella school: Parents may homeschool under the supervision of a church school or an approved private school. In both cases, parents must provide annual notice to the local superintendent and supervising schools must provide “textbooks, lesson plans, and other instructional materials or equipment.” Church school officials must conduct annual site visits while approved private schools must assign each homeschool a supervising teacher. There is no assessment requirement for students homeschooled under a supervising school. Maryland requires approved private schools to go through an approval process and meet certain educational requirements, but exempts church schools from all requirements.

(1) Homeschool Statute

The state’s compulsory attendance law exempts any child who “is otherwise receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age.” See Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 7-301(a)(1). The Board of Education has developed regulations for homeschooling. See Md. Regs. Code tit. 13A §§ 10.01.01 to .03.

Notification: At least 15 days before beginning to homeschool, parents must provide written agreement to the local superintendent using a form prescribed by the State Department of Education. This form must include an assurance of consent to the provisions of the homeschool law. Parents/guardians must then annually, before the beginning of each school year, verify the continuation of homeschooling with the local superintendent. Parents/guardians must also notify the superintendent if at any time the child’s status changes.
Qualifications: None.
Days or hours: Instruction must “take place on a regular basis during the school year” and “be of sufficient duration to implement the instructional program.”
Subjects: Children must receive “regular, thorough instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age,” including instruction in English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education.
Bookkeeping: Parents/guardians must maintain a portfolio of the student’s work demonstrating that the child has received regular, thorough instruction in the required subjects. This portfolio should include “relevant materials such as instructional materials, reading materials, and examples of the child’s writings work sheets, workbooks, creative materials, and tests.”
Assessment: Up to three times a year, parents/guardians must allow a representative of the local school system to review the student’s portfolio, discuss the instructional program, and observe instruction at a mutually agreed-upon time and place. The purpose of this review is to ensure that the student is receiving regular, thorough instruction in the required subjects.
Intervention: If a parent/guardian does not comply with the notification, instruction, and portfolio review requirements, the child being homeschooled will be considered truant and must be enrolled in school. If a superintendent reviewing a homeschooled child’s portfolio determines that the child is not being given regular, thorough instruction in compliance with homeschooling law, he or she will notify the parent or guardian of the child. Within 30 days of notification, the parent/guardian must provide evidence to the superintendent that the deficiency has been/is being corrected. If the superintendent judges that the correction is not sufficient, the child must be obligatorily enrolled in a public or nonpublic school.
Other: Local school systems are barred from imposing additional requirements on home instruction programs. Homeschooled students are authorized to voluntarily participate in regularly scheduled standardized testing programs administered in the public school the child is eligible to attend.

(2) Supervision of a Church School

“A parent or guardian may provide instruction for a child at home without compliance with the requirements of this regulation . . . if that instruction is offered through correspondence courses and is under the supervision of a school or institution offering an educational program operated by a bona fide church organization.” See Md. Regs. Code tit. 13A § 10.01.05. Parents enrolling their children in a church school must follow the rules laid out by that school.

Notification: Annually, before the beginning of a school year, parents must verify the continuation of homeschooling with the supervising school. The supervising school must annually notify the local school superintendent of the identities of homeschooled students under its supervision, and regularly notify the superintendent of new students, students no longer under supervision, and changes in students’ statuses.
Qualifications: No state requirements.
Days or hours: No state requirements.
Subjects: The law requires the supervising school to provide “textbooks, lesson plans, and other instructional materials or equipment designed to use independently by the pupil at a site other than the school.” The law does not specify what subjects must be covered, leaving that to the discretion of the supervising school.
Bookkeeping: No state requirements.
Assessment: No state requirements.
Intervention: None.
Other: The law requires the supervising school to offer “pre-enrollment conference with parents or guardians,” “conferences with parents or guardians at appropriate intervals during the period of enrollment,” and “annual visits by supervisor personnel to the site where the pupil is receiving instruction.”

(3) Supervision of an Approved Private School

“A parent or guardian may provide instruction for a child at home without compliance with the requirements of this regulation . . . if that instruction is offered through correspondence courses and is under the supervision of a . . . nonpublic school with a certificate of approval from the State Board of Education.” See Md. Regs. Code tit. 13A § 10.01.05. Parents enrolling their children in an approved private school must follow the rules laid out by that school.

Notification: Annually, before the beginning of a school year, parents must verify the continuation of homeschooling with the supervising school. The supervising school must annually notify the local school superintendent of the identity of homeschooled students under its supervision, and regularly notify the superintendent of new students, students no longer under supervision, and changes in students’ statuses.
Qualifications: The supervising school must assign a school-based teacher “to assist the home teacher in using the correspondence courses.”
Days or hours: No state requirements.
Subjects: The law requires the supervising school to provide “textbooks, lesson plans, and other instructional materials or equipment designed to use independently by the pupil at a site other than the school.” The law does not specify what subjects must be covered, leaving that to the discretion of the supervising school.
Bookkeeping: No state requirements.
Assessment: The school-based teacher must “assist the pupil by issuing progress reports, making papers, and grading tests.”
Intervention: None.
Other: n/a

Services Available to Homeschooled Students

Part-time enrollment:

In In Thomas v. Allegany County Bd. of Educ., 443 A.2d 622 (Md. App. 1982), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that students who have opted out of public education do not have a right to enroll in individual public school classes. However, the court did not bar school boards from permitting part-time enrollment. However, the Maryland Department of Education states that “home schooled students are authorized only to participate in standardized testing” and that “the regulations do not authorize participation in any other public school courses or activities.” The logic appears to be that since the regulations explicitly permit homeschooled students to participate in standardized testing in the local public schools, the lack of a section explicitly allowing homeschooled students to take individual classes in their local public schools denotes a statement that they are not allowed to so participate.

Extracurriculars: The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) requires students to “attend” the school they represent. See MPSSAA Handbook.
Special needs: While public schools must offer special needs testing to all students within their districts regardless of what school they attend or whether they are homeschooled, public schools in Maryland have no obligation to provide special needs services to students homeschooled through the school district. Students homeschooled through nonpublic schools, in contrast, may have some access to special needs services offered by public schools.
Other: n/a

Background:

In 1984, the Maryland State Board of Education prohibited homeschooling without a teaching certificate. In 1987, after a controversial homeschooling bill was scrapped by the previous year, the Board created a new set of regulations for homeschooling, in consultation with Maryland homeschoolers. In 2011, House Bill 500, which would allow homeschooled children to participate in public school extracurriculars, was introduced to the legislature; it has not made any progress.

For more, see A History of Homeschooling in Maryland.

Resources:

Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 7-301(a)

Md. Regs. Code tit. 13A §§ 10.01.01 to .05.

Home Schooling, Maryland State Department of Education

Home Instruction Fact Sheet

Maryland, International Center for Home Education Research

A Brief History of Homeschooling in Maryland

This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice.

Comments are closed