Legal

Homeschooling in New Jersey – “Are you allowed to do that?”

Although homeschooling has never not been legal in NJ, many school districts were unaware of this, and it wasn’t until 1965 that a court case upheld our right to provide our children with a non institutional education.

Another case, two years later, settled the question of “equivalent instruction”, saying that we had only to provide education in the major subject areas.

The major subject areas are math, English, science, health and fitness, social studies. There’s been
some discussion as to whether or not we are now required to add a foreign language, since public schools are required to provide this, but this has not been settled, nor have homeschoolers been challenged on this matter. Since most homeschooling families do learn world languages, this is not an issue.

There are no requirements for testing, curricular content, teaching methods, socialization, lesson plans, logs or reports, lists of goals or objectives, or teaching credentials. Homeschoolers are not required to use textbooks.

Homeschoolers in NJ have no scheduling or attendance requirements.

The courts have decided that homeschoolers bear the burden of proving that they are not truant.
NJHA recommends that you send a notification letter if:

  1. you are removing children from school
    OR
  2. the district questions your children’s status
    OR
  3. the district claims that your children are truant.

A notification letter need only say that your children are receiving their education via homeschooling. Other than names and your family’s address, no other information is required.

Some homeschoolers choose to send a notification letter as a courtesy, or in anticipation of a district’s charges of truancy.  No district may “require” such notification from homeschoolers.

Once the district has been apprised that the issue is homeschooling, not truancy, and that the parents are providing an education, the burden of proof shifts to the district. If they are dissatisfied with any aspect of the homeschooling, they must prove in court that the child is being educationally deprived. This burden is so great, and the 1965 and 1967 court decisions so protective, that few districts, even the most hostile, are willing to attempt it (especially at taxpayer expense.)

Some districts have asked for or demanded more from homeschooling families than the laws require us to provide to them. If your district demands more than the law requires, print out and send to them a copy of the 2000 booklet “Frequently Asked Questions About Homeschooling in New Jersey”. This is available online at

http://www.state.nj.us/education/genfo/faq/faq_homeschool.htm
.

Homeschoolers who refuse to be intimidated do eventually wear down the resistance of districts.

Homeschoolers who bow to pressure and allow districts to mandate requirements beyond the law have the effect of creating more problems for other homeschoolers, and strengthen the resolve of hostile administrators to harass homeschoolers within their districts.

New Jersey educational law:

18A:38-25. Attendance required of children between six and 16; exceptions

Every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between the ages of six and 16 years shall cause such child regularly to 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.

(our italics, added for emphasis)


18A:38-26. Days when attendance required; exceptions

Such regular attendance shall be during all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the district, unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the board of education of the district that the mental condition of the child is such that he cannot benefit from instruction in the school or that the bodily condition of the child is such as to prevent his attendance at school, but nothing herein shall be construed as permitting the temporary or permanent exclusion from school by the board of education of any district of any child between the ages of five and 20, except as explicitly otherwise provided by law.
(our italics, added for emphasis)

Case law:

State v. Vaughn, 44 N.J. 142(1965)

State v. Massa, 95 N.J. Super. 382(1967)

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