Is it Legal? ABSOLUTELY!
The court case of Leeper v. Arlington ISD supports our right to homeschool in Texas. It establishes that homeschools are private schools. Private schools are not regulated in Texas, as our state constitution (Article 7 Sec 2) only authorizes the legislature to establish and maintain public schools, not private or parochial schools. The following is an excerpt from the Leeper decision, the part that sets out the basic guidelines. Should you wish to read the entire decision, look for Leeper v. Arlington Indep. School Dist., No 17-88761-85 Tarrant County Judicial Ct. Apr. 13, 1987.
Statutory requirement for approval of program - None
Statutory requirements for home teacher - None
Statutory requirement for student testing - The state is prohibited from requiring standardized testing of homeschoolers.
Letter of intent - Notification is not
required, but school attendance officers can make "reasonable" inquiries
as to whether or not a child is school.
HOMESCHOOL COURT CASE
GARY W. LEEPER ET AL v. ARLINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL
FINAL JUDGEMENT SEPTEMBER 4TH, 1987
"It is, therefore, ordered, adjudged and decreed that a school-age child residing in the state of Texas who is pursuing under the direction of a parent or parents or one standing in parental authority in or through the child's home in a bona fide (good faith, not a sham or subterfuge) manner a curriculum consisting of books, workbooks, or written materials including that which appears on an electronic screen of either a computer or video tape monitor, or any combination of the preceding from (1) either one of a private or parochial school which exists apart from the child home or (2) which has been developed or obtained from any source, said curriculum designed to meet basic education goals of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship, is in attendance upon a private or parochial school within the meaning of Section 21.033 (a) (1) of the Texas Education Code and exempt from the requirements of compulsory attendance at a public school . . ."
"This judgement does not preclude the Texas Education agency, the Commissioner of Education or the State Board of Education from suggesting to the public school attendance officers lawful methods, including but not limited to inquiry concerning curricula and standardized test scores, in order to ascertain if there is compliance with the declaration contained in this judgement. However, this judgement is not to be interpreted as requiring standardized test scores in order for there to be compliance with interpretation made by the court of section 21.033 (a) (1) of the Texas Education Code . . ."
Chas. J. Murray
Legal Requirements for home schooling in Texas*
1. Compulsory Attendance ages are 6 through 17. This means that when a child turns 6 he must be "in school" and, if not enrolled in a traditional school, the following requirements apply:
~1. The home school must be run in a bona fide manner (not a sham or
2. The Texas legislature has not defined private or parochial school in the Education Code. Additionally, the legislature has given the TEA and State Board of Education authority just over Public schools, not over private or parochial schools. Under the compulsory attendance laws, there is a requirement of 170 days of attendance but this only applies to PUBLIC schools, not to private schools.
3. There are no current testing requirements nor or you required to register your home school with the school district under current Texas law.
Leeper Case Upheld on Appeal.(*)
On Wednesday, June 15, 1994, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously upheld the appeal of the Arlington v. Leeper case, which defined the current home-schooling rights of parents in the state of Texas. In a 30 page ruling, the court upheld the lower court rulings which said that students attending legitimate home schools are not required to attend public schools. The court said that the Texas Education Agency had no legal basis for prosecution of 150 homeschooling families and that legitimate home schools are exempt from the state's compulsory attendance law.
The Supreme Court agreed with the district court's ruling that a home school was considered legitimate if parents used some sort of curriculum consisting of books, workbooks or other written materials and that they met "basic education goals" by teaching reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship. Once that standard is met, the state's authority ends, although the district court said school officials could ask home-school parents about curricula and standardized tests.
The Supreme Court specifically said Wednesday that the Texas Education Agency could request evidence of standardized test, even though home-school parents are not required to give such tests. The Court also said that any new rules on home schools written by the State Board of Education would be subject to judicial review.
The Supreme Court also lifted, as unnecessary, a permanent injunction barring school districts from charging parents who educate their children at home with criminal violations. The court said that Texas law was never intended to criminalize home schooling and noted that home schools were a historical practicality for many Texas families in the 20th century.
And, finally, in an 8-1 decision, the Court upheld the ruling that the state pay $360,000 in attorney fees for the plaintiffs.
(The above article compiled from various news sources.)
(*) From Susan Frederick, the Taffie mailing list archives, reprinted by permission. For information about the taffie mailing list for Texas Homeschoolers, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and put info taffie in the body of the message. The subject line is ignored.
Taffie is the acronym for "Texas Advocates For Freedom In Education"