Frequently Asked Questions
How to register for homeschooling in Louisiana
Home Education under the Private School Law
Registration under the Home Study Program
Renew for the Private School Option
Renew my application for the Home Study Program each year
Withdraw my child from Public School
Which option is for me?
More TOPS information
A: Yes, Louisiana law is favorable to home education. Two options are available: (1) the Home Study Law or (2) the Private School Law. This constitutional liberty is protected by the Private Education Deregulation Act (Act No. 828 which amends Section 236 of Title 17 of Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950). However, as with all freedoms, it must be guarded. Although home study has been recognized since 1980, attempts have been made to repeal that act or chip away at this right. See “History of the Louisiana Home Study Law.”
A: Any parent may home educate their child. A parent’s constitutional right to home educate comes from the fundamental constitutional principle of the freedom of parents to direct the education of their children. Parents with religious convictions also have the right to home educate as a free exercise of religion. These provisions are in the Louisiana State Constitution as well as the United States Constitution.
A: Home education may begin at any time during the school year, but the application form must be mailed within 15 days after the home study program begins. Only those children affected by the compulsory attendance law must apply with the Department of Education. According to the Compulsory Attendance Law (Louisiana Revised Statutes Annotated @ 17:232), all children from the 7th birthday to the 18th birthday, or until graduation must be in school. The law also allows parents to notify the state as a private school with the Superintendent of Schools, Department of Education.
Two types of home schools may operate in Louisiana: Approved Home Study Programs and Private Schools. The main difference between the two lies in how much information you send to the State Department of Education (DOE) each year.
To operate as a Private School, send a letter to the state DOE each school year notifying them of the number of school-aged (7-18 year old) children you are currently teaching. The letter should include contact information (such as the name and address of your school) and your starting date for this school year. Send only one copy, and mail it within 30 days of your first day of school (we recommend Return Receipt mail). You are NOT required to include ANY information about your children besides the total number enrolled. You may download this PDF file with sample wording here Private School Option Letter. You can register online at https://webapps.doe.louisiana.gov/reg_NP_NSSA_App/default.aspx.
Send a letter according to the instructions given for the initial notification under the private school option, updating the information to reflect the new school year. Register online at https://webapps.doe.louisiana.gov/reg_NP_NSSA_App/default.aspx.
To operate as an “Approved Home Study Program” you must send in an application form yearly. The DOE’s new Approved Home Study form is pretty good. It’s actually an improvement over their older forms. Go to their web site, print out two copies, fill them out and mail them (we recommend Return Receipt mail) within 15 days of the beginning of your school year. You can also register online at https://webapps.doe.louisiana.gov/homestudy_app/homestudy_app.aspx.
HSLDA members can access HSLDA’s version of a proper Louisiana form on their web site. We want to encourage people to use the form, but only with the knowledge that the DOE will refuse it! Sue Millican will return it to you with a note that tells you to use the DOE’s form. So, when you receive your unaccepted form back, you may choose to send in the DOE’s version of the “Approved Home Study Application” or your private school notification letter.
A renewal application must be made by the first of October of the school year, or within twelve months of the approval of the initial application. Renewal applications are approved when parents submit satisfactory evidence that their home school offered a sustained curriculum of a quality equal to that of the public schools at the same grade level. This can be done in one of four ways:
(1) Verification that the child has taken the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), California Achievement Test (CAT) or another approved standardized test and has scored at or above his grade level or has progressed at a rate equal to one grade level for each year in home study. A clear copy of the test results attached to the Home Study Application is sufficient. Note that the same Home Study Application form is used for the initial application and for renewal applications.
(2) A written statement from a teacher certified to teach at the child’s grade level stating that the child is being taught with a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at that grade level, or in the case of children with mental or physical disabilities, a sustained curriculum at least equal to that offered by public schools to children with similar disabilities.
(3) Verification that the child took the State Basic Skills Test and scored at or above the state performance standard.
(4) A packet of materials may be presented including a complete outline of the subjects taught, list of books and materials used, copies of the student’s work, test results, statements by third parties who have observed the child’s progress, report card, or any other evidence of the quality of the program being offered.
Most parents choose to send in a copy of their child’s test results. Whichever option you choose, proofread for spelling and grammatical errors; be sure that all required information is included.
When removing a student from a government funded (public) school, you must notify the school in writing that the child will no longer be attending. This step is required by law if you choose to operate as a private school, and is highly recommended if you choose to operate as an approved home study program. (This is not required if the child is leaving a private school to be home schooled.) The letter must contain the child’s full legal name, date of birth, race and gender. The letter may contain a request for a copy of the student’s transcripts. Send it within 10 days of enrollment in your home school. (We recommend Return Receipt mail.)
A: Whether you choose to operate as an “Approved Home Study Program” or as a “Private School” is up to you. Your choice is only limited under the following circumstances:
1.) HOME STUDY STUDENTS CAN BE ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN ATHLETICS AT LA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEMBER SCHOOLS
Only Students in an approved Home Study Program can be eligible to participate in athletics at Louisiana High School Athletic Association Member Schools. Homeschoolers can participate in their area homeschool sports teams and on City Leagues.
2.) PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR TOPS
If you have a student who intends to apply for TOPS college funding, he must be enrolled in an “Approved Home Study Program by the end of his 10th grade year.” A private school student is not eligible for TOPS unless he graduated from an approved private school. Our home school private schools are not approved by the state department because the law does not require approval of any private school (unless the school seeks government funding). Some of the larger church-run private schools around the state have chosen to work through the lengthy and cumbersome approval process so that their graduates may be TOPS eligible. The home school equivalent of state approval is the Approved Home Study Program.
Official wording says a home schooled student must be enrolled in an “Approved Home Study Program by the end of his 10th grade year” in order to be eligible for TOPS. I’ve had discussions with TOPS officials and reminded them that we don’t send info to the DOE at the end of our school years, but at the beginning. They assured me that if it’s sent in by the beginning of the 11th grade, that’s sufficient, because what they are really looking for is the last two complete consecutive school years. By the way, the other two requirements are that the student score at least three points higher on the ACT than last year’s state average (he would currently need a 22), and that you apply by filing a FAFSA form by all the appropriate deadlines.
CHEF of LA website: www.chefofla.org
Louisiana State Department of Education website: www.louisianabelieves.com