Superintendent of Schools
Section 20-5-109, MCA, gives the necessary component for a home school to qualify under Montana’s law as an exception to compulsory attendance in public schools. Five conditions are listed that must be met by the home school.
First, the attendance records and disease immunization records must be made available to County Superintendent of Schools on request.
Second, (refers to Section 20-1-301 and Section 20-1-302, MCA) gives the number of hours of instruction required per day. Four (4) hours are required for the primary grades (K-3). All other grades require six (6) hours of instruction.
20-1-301. School fiscal year. (1) The school fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. At least the minimum aggregate hours defined in subsection (2) must be conducted during each school fiscal year, except that 1,050 aggregate hours of pupil instruction for graduating seniors may be sufficient.
(2) The minimum aggregate hours required by grade are:
(a) 360 hours for a half-time kindergarten program or 720 hours for a full-time kindergarten program, as provided in 20-7-117;
(b) 720 hours for grades 1 through 3; and
(c) 1,080 hours for grades 4 through 12.
(3) For any elementary or high school district that fails to provide for at least the minimum aggregate hours, as listed in subsections (1) and (2), the superintendent of public instruction shall reduce the direct state aid for the district for that school year by two times an hourly rate, as calculated by the office of public instruction, for the aggregate hours missed.
Third, the building in which the home school is taking place must meet the applicable county health and safety regulations.
Fourth, the home school must provide an organized course of study that includes instruction in the subjects required of the public schools as a basic education program, pursuant to Section 20-7-111, MCA.
This is the section of law that gives the Board of Public Education the right to set the minimum curriculum in public schools. Therefore, under this section, the minimum curriculum required of public schools must also be taught in home schools. You may also need or desire a copy of the accreditation standards for schools to see what those minimum requirements are.
Fifth, notify the county superintendent of schools about student’s(s’) attendance in a home school.
In order to ascertain and maintain the legality of your home school and, should you desire to do so, facilitate the transfer of your student(s) back to a public school, the County Superintendent is requesting all home schools to submit attendance records for each school year, on at least an annual basis.
To facilitate this reporting process you may use this annual attendance form. However, it is not required that this form be used; any form that provides the same information is acceptable.
If a disease immunization record is not made available to the County Superintendent by placing in that office the permanent files that you have requested, please fill out the immunization health form and submit with the notification form.
Should you desire to re-enroll your student(s) in the public school system, it is important to know the terms and conditions that control admittance.
Section 20-5-110, MCA, School District assessment for placement of a child who enrolls in a public school from a non-accredited, non-public school. This law requires school districts to outline in policy under what conditions a student who has been home schooled will be allowed to re-enroll in the district. When or if you wish to take this step, it may be wise to request a copy of your local district’s policy.
More laws pertaining to education in Montana can be found in Montana Code Annotated.