One of the reasons we wanted to remain Utah residents when we began our full-time RV adventure is so that we could take advantage of the laws relating to Homeschooling in Utah.
Homeschooling is a touchy subject for a lot of people, but it is becoming more and more mainstream. Some home school for religious reasons, which is perfectly acceptable, while others do it for more secular reasons.
We are on the latter end of the spectrum, we want to teach the basics, as well as a strong appreciation for what this nation was founded upon, and why it's important that we don't allow it to be lost. We also want to offer our children opportunities to learn by traveling around the nation and seeing and experiencing historical sites and current events, and on our off-grid farm/ranch property so they can learn many practical things.
With the recent Covid-19 debacle, many that had never considered homeschooling before, were forced to do so for the good of their children. Children do NOT learn well when forced to wear masks and work in little Plexiglas workspaces, with auditory and visual drawbacks that hinder the learning process.
Some states, such as Utah, recognize the rights that parents have and make exercising those rights relatively easy. Legislators here have elected to get State and Local government out of the way, and let parents teach their children as they see best, and as their children learn best. That's exactly as it should be. Our legislators don't always get it right, but on home schooling they have done very well.
Other states, such as New York and Massachusetts, make homeschooling very difficult due to government interference through onerous regulations such as mandatory school testing, record-keeping that must be available for inspection, and other things.
Others, such as Oregon, Washington, and North Dakota have a little less regulation and fewer government mandated requirements, but still more than the majority of states. The rest are somewhere in between.
The most common states for full-time RV folks to domicile in are South Dakota (State-mandated Curriculum Items), Florida (State-mandated Testing and Record-keeping which local school superintendent can demand to inspect), and Texas (State-mandated Curriculum Items).
The laws relating to homeschooling in Utah are found in 53A-11-102(2) of the Utah Code.
It reads as follows...
(a) A local school board shall excuse a school-age minor from attendance, if the school-age minor's parent files a signed and notarized affidavit with the school-age minor's school district of residence, as defined in Section 53A-2-201, that:
(i) the school-age minor will attend a home school; and
(ii) the parent assumes sole responsibility for the education of the school-age minor, except to the extent the school-age minor is dual enrolled in a public school as provided in Section 53A-11-102.5.
(b) A signed and notarized affidavit filed in accordance with Subsection (2)(a) shall remain in effect as long as:
(i) the school-age minor attends a home school; and
(ii) the school district where the affidavit was filed remains the school-age minor's district of residence.
(c) A parent of a school-age minor who attends a home school is solely responsible for:
(i) the selection of instructional materials and textbooks;
(ii) the time, place, and method of instruction; and
(iii) the evaluation of the home school instruction.
(d) A local school board may not:
(i) require a parent of a school-age minor who attends a home school to maintain records of instruction or attendance;
(ii) require credentials for individuals providing home school instruction;
(iii) inspect home school facilities; or
(iv) require standardized or other testing of home school students.
(e) Upon the request of a parent, a local school board shall identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies a student is recommended to attain by grade level and subject area to assist the parent in achieving college and career readiness through home schooling.
(f) A local school board that excuses a school-age minor from attendance as provided by this Subsection (2) shall annually issue a certificate stating that the school-age minor is excused from attendance for the specified school year.
(g) A local school board shall issue a certificate excusing a school-age minor from attendance:
(i) within 30 days after receipt of a signed and notarized affidavit filed by the school-age minor's parent pursuant to Subsection (2); and
(ii) on or before August 1 each year thereafter unless:
(A) the school-age minor enrolls in a school within the school district;
(B) the school-age minor's parent or guardian notifies the school district that the school-age minor no longer attends a home school; or
(C) the school-age minor's parent or guardian notifies the school district that the school-age minor's school district of residence has changed.
(3) A parent who files a signed and notarized affidavit as provided in Subsection (2)(a) is exempt from the application of Subsections 53A-11-101.5(2), (5), and (6).
(4) Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit or discourage voluntary cooperation, resource sharing, or testing opportunities between a school or school district and a parent or guardian of a minor attending a home school.
You will note that I emphasized a few items in there.
After you have decided to start homeschooling your child, you need to file an affidavit form as described above.
Some school districts in Utah have their own affidavit form for you to use. You are not required to use it. I strongly recommend that you use your own. I am including a link to the one that we use at the bottom of this page that you are free to use as well. Why?
On many of the forms designed by school districts, they refer to it as a "permission form" or "authorization form", or otherwise use language that makes it appear you are seeking their permission for homeschooling your child. The school board is not giving permission for anything, or authorizing anything. You are not asking them to permit or to authorize anything. The law permits and authorizes you to do this. The school board is merely acknowledging their receipt of your notification.
By law, they SHALL issue a certificate excusing a school-age minor from attendance. That is ALL they are doing.
Let me give you an example from both the website and the "approved form" for one Utah school district.
From their website:
"As stated in Utah Code Ann. 53A-11-102, local school boards may grant to parents the option of instructing their children at home in the subjects prescribed by the State Board of Education in accordance with the law for the same length of time as minors are required by law to be taught in the district schools."
Notice how that does not match Utah law?
First, they SHALL, not MAY. That is a significant difference. Words and phrasing matter.
Many states in our nation have concealed firearm permits because legislators changed the language of their laws from MAY ISSUE (which gives someone in government discretion to NOT do something, even for arbitrary reasons) to SHALL ISSUE (which removes discretion and forces compliance with the law).
Secondly, Utah law specifically states that "A parent of a school-age minor who attends a home school is solely responsible for: (i) the selection of instructional materials and textbooks; (ii) the time, place, and method of instruction; and (iii) the evaluation of the home school instruction.".
From their "approved form":
This certificate of verification shall be issued within 30 days after receipt of this signed and notarized affidavit filed by the school-age minor’s parents. The above named student(s) are exempt from compulsory attendance for the school year. This exemption will remain in effect as long as the school-age minor attends home school, and a. Will be issued on or before August 1 each year thereafter; unless b. The school-age minor enrolls in a school within the school district; or c. The school-age minor’s parent or guardian notifies the school district that the school-age minor no longer attends a home school; or d. The school-age minor’s parent or guardian notifies the school district that the school-age minor’s district of residence has changed.
Date: Signature of Authorization: Signature of Superintendent or Designee This exemption is invalid without parent/guardian signature AND signature of district authorization
Note the term "Certificate of verification"? It's a Certificate of Exemption.
Note also that they refer to "Signature of Authorization" and later reference a "signature of district authorization"? Again, they are not authorizing anything. Words and phrasing matter.
I just recommend not playing the game. You are free to use whatever form you want.
After you have filled it out, wait to sign it until you take it to a Notary Public. Many banks and credit unions offer this service free for account holders.
Then you can mail it to the school district office. I recommend sending it certified mail, so that you have proof of delivery.
You should have your Certificate of Exemption back shortly.
That is all it takes to handle the legal part of the process.
Next comes the rewarding part - selecting a course of instruction and making opportunities available and guiding your child to learn and to grow into the best person they can be.
Utah Home Education Association
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