Nebraska

  • Private school: Parents may operate homeschools as private schools. Parents must file annual notice and provide a required number of hours of instruction in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health. There are no parent qualification, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.

Private Schools

In the absence of a homeschool statute, homeschools operate as private, denominational, or parochial schools. If they wish to avoid the state’s accreditation and approval requirements, homeschool parents must gain “exempt” status for their schools by arguing either that the requirements for school approval and accreditation “interfere with the decisions of the parents or legal guardians in directing their child’s education” or that they “violate the parents’ or legal guardians’ sincerely held religious beliefs.” State law authorizes the State Board of Education to establish procedures for collecting the information required by law. These procedures are laid out in Rule 13. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1601.

Notification: By July 15th before each year of homeschooling, parents must file Form A and Form B with the Commissioner of Education. Both documents can be found as appendices here. Parents moving to Nebraska or withdrawing a child from school in the middle of the school year must file these documents “promptly.” Parents also must submit an information sheet (at the same time as Form A or Form B or within 30 days the first year of homeschooling) that includes: (a) the school term start and end date; (b) the names, ages, and education levels of all instructors; and (c) a written summary demonstrating a “sequential program of instruction designed to lead to basic skills in the language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health.” See Chapter 13 Section 004. Finally, parents must submit a copy of each new student’s birth certificate. See Chapter 43 Section 2007.

After processing these forms, the Commissioner of Education provides each homeschooling parent with an Acknowledgement Letter and sends an official notification to each child’s local school district. Parents may discontinue the enrollment of a child who has reached age 16 but not age 18 by each filing Form C or report a child’s early graduation from high school by each filing Form D. Once a family’s Form C or Form D has been processed, the Commissioner of Education will acknowledge the receipt of the form and make a report to the local school district. See Rule 13.

Qualifications: None. “Individuals employed or utilized by schools which elect not to meet state accreditation or approval requirements shall not be required to meet the certification requirements.” See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1601(5).
Days or hours: Elementary students must have 1,032 hours of instruction while high school students must have 1,080 hours of instruction.
Subjects: Exempt schools must “maintain a sequential program of instruction designed to lead to basic skills in the language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health.” See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1601(4).
Bookkeeping: None.
Assessment: None. The state’s private school statute gives the State Board of Education the authority to require testing and home visits. However, the state’s attorney general ruled that such requirements must be uniform across private schools and homeschooling and that they cannot be arranged in the absence of parental consent. Given these constraints, the State Board of Education does not require testing or home visits. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1601(2) and OAG Opinion, July 30, 1987.
Intervention: None. Failure to file the required paperwork means that a child is not exempted from compulsory attendance laws. Failure to educate can be reported as listed here.
Other: According to Chapter 13 Section 001.05: “Parents or legal guardians who specify election on Form A for other than religious reasons must comply with immunization requirements of Sections 79-217 through 79-223 R.R.S.. Regulations of the State Department of Health and Human Services promulgated under Section 79-219 R.R.S. dealing with immunizations are found in Title 173, Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 3.” See also Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1601(4).

Services Available to Homeschooled Students

Part-time enrollment: YesChapter 13 Section 001.04 covers dual (or part-time) enrollment. It states that: “Section 79-2,136 R.R.S. provides that public schools shall allow the part-time enrollment of students who are residents of the school district but attend an exempt (home) school. Each school board shall establish policies and procedures for part-time students and such policies and procedures may include provisions permitting the part-time enrollment of exempt school students who are not residents of the school district. Contact the local public school district regarding their policies and procedures.”
Extracurriculars: Yes. With the exception of activities governed by the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA), extracurricular access is up to the school district. See question F8 of the Nebraska Department of Education’s Exempt (Home) School Frequently Asked Questions.
High School Athletics: Yes. The Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) allows homeschooled students to participate but requires that all student athletes be enrolled in at least 20 credit hours, which amounts to 1/2 time, at the public school they represent. See Bylaws for All Activities.
Special Needs: Yes. Homeschooled students are eligible for special needs testing in their local public schools. In addition, homeschools are considered private schools for the purpose of federal IDEA funding, which means they may be eligible for special needs services in their local public schools. Parents of children with disabilities may be able to gain access to additional services by enrolling their children part-time in their local public school.

Background:

Nebraska has never passed a homeschool law; instead, homeschoolers in the state homeschool under the state’s private school law. Through the early 1980s, Nebraska required private, denominational, and parochial schools to have state accreditation and approval, which included a requirement that all teachers be certified. Ultimately, the State Department of Education allowed private schools to operate without state accreditation and approval, provided they follow certain testing and visitation requirements. In 1987, Attorney General Robert Spire ruled that the state’s testing and visitation requirements could not be arranged in the absence of parental consent. As a result, the State Board of Education does not currently require testing or home visits for homeschoolers.

For more, see A History of Homeschooling in Nebraska.

In 2016, Nebraska streamlined its previously dual system.

Resources:

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1601

Rule 13

Rules and Regulations, Nebraska Department of Education

Exempt (Home) School Program, Nebraska Department of Education

Exempt (Home) School Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Nebraska, International Center for Home Education Research

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

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