NOTE: This summary is not intended to be, and does not constitute, the giving of legal advice. Many states have unclear compulsory attendance statutes, and the courts of those states vary in their interpretation of the statutes. Therefore, there is no guarantee any state will accept all of the options for compliance listed under each state. This summary is not intended to be a substitute for individual reliance on privately retained legal counsel such as that provided by Home School Legal Defense Association.
Beginning July 1, 2011 the homeschooling law in Tennessee changed. That year legislation passed the TN House and the TN Senate and the Governor has signed the SB1468 / HB1631 into law.
To explain all the changes and their significance a series of articles and interviews are being prepared and you can access them by signing up to receive the series.
In Tennessee law homeschooling is defined as “parent(s) or guardian(s) teaching their children.”As long as the State of Tennessee maintains a compulsory attendance law, dealing with state officials or with those who answer to the state will be part of any educational alternative, public, private, or church related.
During the ages in which a child is confined by state law into a school – 7 through 16 for homeschoolers, that law can be satisfied either by enrolling with your local superintendent or the family can enroll with a church related school.
About ninety-five plus percent of homeschoolers in Tennessee sign up with a church related school that offers an umbrella program. Why’s that? The number of services available to families and their students makes them so popular. This choice offers many different services, including a range of curriculum options, scheduling, testing, assistance, graduation participation, plus all sorts of coordinated activities including the arts and sports. Some of these schools offer statewide and worldwide enrollment. Some only allow enrollment for members of their church. Some require that you live within 50 miles of the church. Some require testing while others offer testing when parents are ready. Some mandate the use of a certain curriculum, while others simply request that you report what curriculum is used. These schools are business / ministries and they are mindful of their customers wishes within the context of their ministry objectives.
The remaining five percent of homeschoolers use the alternative of signing up with their local superintendent of schools. Other than a one page attendance form, few services are offered by their superintendent, testing is required for certain grades with penalties attached to low performance. For the most part this is something that local superintendents are required to do by law, but that generates no funds from the state, so it is typically a very low priority.
For detailed information on the Tennessee Home Education Law see https://www.hslda.org/hs101/TN.aspx