New Jersey

  • Alternative education provision: New Jersey law exempts students who “receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school” from compulsory school attendance. Parents must provide “equivalent instruction,” but there are no notification, parent qualification, instruction time, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.

Education Elsewhere

State statute requires that students “attend the public schools of the district or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.” See New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 18A:38-25.

Notification: None.
Qualifications: None.
Days or hours: None.
Subjects: Instruction must be “academically equivalent” to that provided in public school.
Bookkeeping: None.
Assessment: None.
Intervention: Failure to educate is included in the state’s definition of neglect. Should a homeschool be reported for educational neglect, a state official may investigate to determine whether equivalent instruction is being provided. Should a local board of education become concerned that a given homeschooled child is not receiving equivalent instruction, the they may request evidence of the child’s education from the parent. In either case, the parent must provide evidence that the child is receiving “equivalent instruction,” but the state then has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a family’s curriculum is not academically equivalent to a public school education. See State v. Massa 95 N.J. Super 382 (1967).
Other:  n/a

Services Available to Homeschooled Students

Part-time enrollment: Yes, at the district’s discretion. 
Extracurriculars: Yes, at the district’s discretion. 
Special needs: No. However, homeschool students may have a right to access to special services through the public schools if 1) the special services are provided on the premises of the public school; and 2) the public school is making such services available to private school students. See Forstrom v. Byrne.
Other: n/a

Background:

Early homeschoolers homeschooled under the state’s compulsory attendance statute exemption for those receiving “equivalent instruction elsewhere.” In 1997, the state’s Education Commissioner issued guidelines requiring parents to submit an outline of their curriculum to local school boards, but these guidelines were rescinded after protest by the state’s homeschoolers. In 2004, after four adopted children were discovered in a state of intense malnutrition, the New Jersey legislature attempted to pass a bill requiring testing and medical examinations of homeschooled children, but were unsuccessful.

For more, see A History of Homeschooling in New Jersey.

Resources:

New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 18A:38-25

New Jersey Department of Education Homeschool FAQs

New Jersey, 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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