SOME COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: Can anyone home school in Mississippi?
A: Yes. Any parent is permitted by law to teach his or her own children in a home instruction program. The state has a minimal amount of regulation that families must follow to legally home school. A legitimate home instruction program is defined as one that is not “operated for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory attendance law.”
Q: What kind of paperwork does the state require?
A: By September 15 of each year, parents are required to submit a certificate of enrollment for each child age 6-17 by September 1. (If you have children older or younger, you are not required to submit a certificate for them.) The certificate card – available from your city or county school attendance officer – should include names, address, and telephone number of parents and children, dates of birth of children, and a “simple description of the type of education the children are receiving.” You are not required by law to give your child’s Social Security number. The card must be returned to the school attendance officer.
In the event the child has been enrolled in a public school he must file a Certificate of Enrollment with the local attendance within 15 calendar days after the first day of the school year for the school district where the child resides. If the decision to homeschool the child is made during the school year, they may at that time enroll the child in a legitimate home instruction program and send the certifiacte of enrollment to the school attendance officer, even though they missed the September deadline.
Parents, guardians, or custodians of a child who are found in violation of this law are given 10 days after receiving a written notice to comply with the law.
Q: Can I pay someone else to home educate my child?
A: Mississippi Home Educators Association (“MHEA”) frequently receives inquiries from individuals seeking information about (or recommendations for) programs that will provide “home education” services for a fee. MHEA does not endorse such programs. MHEA’s believes that true home education is that performed primarily by parents/guardians or under their direct supervision. In our view, to send one’s children to a third party for most or all of their lessons is to send one’s children to another kind of private school – even if the instruction takes place in a third party’s house.
MHEA’s view of home education expressed above does not exclude the parents/guardians utilizing third parties for particularized subjects. For example, a parent with a particular skill set can provide workshops to children (and parents!) in a home school support group. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with hiring tutors for specialized subjects, such as advanced mathematics or to learn a musical instrument. These kinds of activities supplement – but should not replace – what the parents are doing in the home. True home education can even include internet-based teaching within the home since that kind of instruction would be under the supervision of the parents/guardians.
Mississippi’s home education statute does not expressly require that parents/guardians serve as the primary instructors. However, the statute’s use of the phrase “legitimate home instruction program” calls into question whether for-profit “home schools” are consistent with the spirit of what the legislature intended. We are concerned that for-profit “home schools” muddy the waters at best. We do not offer a legal opinion on the subject or whether for-profit “home schools” could be subject to private school regulations. We merely express herein MHEA’s position on the subject in light of the numerous requests we receive.
Q: Do I have to wait until the beginning of the next school year to take my children out of their current public or private school to start home schooling?
A: If you wish to teach your children at home, you may begin at any time, but must always send the completed certificate of enrollment for each child.
Q: Does the curriculum I use have to include state-approved textbooks?
A: No. You may choose the curriculum that best suits your children’s individual educational needs.
Q: What subjects am I required to teach?
A: Since repeal of the law in 1984, there are no state requirements for subjects that must be taught.
Q: What days and what hours are my children required to be in school?
A: While there are regulation on the length of school day and school year for public and private schools, there is no state requirement for home school programs.
Q: Do I have to have a high school or college diploma, or teacher certification?
A: The state has no educational attainment or certification requirements for parents who teach their children in the home.
Q: Do my children have to take standardized tests?
A: State law does not require standardized testing.