The Arkansas law has not changed. If you intend to home school during the coming school year, you must give notice to your local school superintendent by August 15.
Some people have incorrectly assumed that they no longer need to turn in a notice of intent to home school. To be clear, every Arkansas home school family must register by August 15.
There is confusion over an email this week from our friends at the Home School Legal Defense Association, a national home school advocacy organization based in Virginia.
The email correctly stated that Arkansas home schoolers can make their own notice of intent form or use a form provided by HSLDA or anyone else rather than putting their information on the Notice of Intent to Home School form provided by the Arkansas Department of Education. However, some people incorrectly thought that they no longer needed to register or turn in a notice of intent to home school. This assumption is incorrect.
Arkansas’ August 15 home school registration deadline is still a legal requirement as it has been for the past 30 years. Since the information you are required to provide is the same, no matter whose notice of intent form you use, we believe you will encounter fewer issues if you use the Notice of Intent form provided by the Department of Education as you always have done.
Our effort to clear up any confusion is not from a lack of appreciation for HSLDA. We appreciate Scott Woodruff and all our friends at HSLDA. They have helped us win numerous home school battles over the years in Arkansas. I am certain we will need their help in the future. They are the world’s leading home school advocacy organization, and we encourage every home schooler in Arkansas to support their efforts and be a part of HSLDA.
Here is more about what has changed.
You can create your own notice of intent form and put the required information on it, or you can use a form provided by someone else and put the required information on that form. You can turn either of these in to your local school superintendent. This is because the letter of the law says that you must provide written notice to your local school superintendent. It does not specifically say you have to use the form provided by the state as a means of providing this written notice. You have a choice as to whose piece of paper you put the required information on, but the information required is the same for any notice of intent to home school.
Since the information required is the same no matter which method you use, we suggest that you use the form provided by the state as you always have done for the following reasons.
- Local school officials may not know about this change, so they are not likely to accept your notice of intent if you do it yourself or use a form that they don’t recognize as being from the State Department of Education.
- There is no guarantee that a form you create or a form created by anyone else will have all the information required by the law. You could be out of compliance with the law and not know it.
- Local school officials and those who record the information at the Department of Education who are unfamiliar with notices of intent made at home or made by someone else are likely to encounter problems accurately recording your data. This is a problem if someone complains to the Department of Human Services about your children and no one can find any record that you registered as required by law.
- You are likely to end up in a battle with local school officials or with the Department of Education over something that may not be worth your time.
It is nice to have the ability to use other notice of intent forms if it ever becomes necessary. Just because you can do this does not mean that we think you should. As someone said, “This may not be worth slapping the skunk over.”
If you are on our mailing list, you will be receiving the updated Arkansas Department of Education Notice of Intent form in the mail in a couple of weeks. You can download and print a copy at the Arkansas Department of Education website at http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/learning-services/home-school.
After July 1, you can complete your notice of intent online thorough the Department of Education website. Before you register online, be sure you are completing the 2018-2019 form and not the old form from last school year that may still be active until the change to the new school year is made in July.
Please contact us if you have any questions or comments.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.