When we moved from Montana to Utah our daughter was 13. She attended one year of private school and then returned to home school. I remember wondering what the law was concerning home school in this new state that we lived in.
This question has come up again from some parents. Here is some brief information about the law. This is not legal advice but will give new home school parents a starting place.
Utah law requires that children be enrolled in either a public, private, or home school.
In order to home school your child you need to submit an affidavit each year. This can be done anytime but is usually done to coincide with the end of the public school year or the beginning of the public school year. Most school districts’ certificates of exemption expire in June of each year.
Submitting this affidavit informs the school district that your child will attend school at home and that they will receive instruction as required by law. The affidavit has been required of home schools in Utah since May 2005.
The instruction that is required by law includes the same subjects that are required by the State Board of Education in public schools. The law also specifies that you need to have school for the same length of time as children in public schools. (180 days per year – 990 hours, 810 hours for first grade)
The annual exemption process is very simple:
- Provide an affidavit.
- Get your affidavit notarized.
- Deliver your affidavit to your school district (by mail or by hand).
- Wait to receive your certificate of exemption from the school district.
1. Provide an Affidavit
Utah law allows you to submit your own affidavit. You are not required to use an affidavit provided by your school district. Many school districts provide sample affidavits for you to use, but it can be advantageous to provide your own as some school forms ask questions that are not required by law. For example, they might ask the reason you are home schooling, the curriculum you are using, etc. You are not required to provide this information. If you disagree with any of the language on the district’s form, you can simply cross it out.
Creating your own affidavit is not difficult. You can simply write a letter indicating that your child will attend a home school and receive instruction as required by law. That’s all that you need to say.
If you do not want to have your child’s information made available in directory listings, you might consider adding a phrase indicating that you don’t want that.
You can find some sample affidavits on the Utah Home Education Association website.
2. Get Your Affidavit Notarized
In Utah, an affidavit is required to be notarized. After you have created your affidavit, take it to a notary. Be sure to not sign your affidavit until you are before the notary. For free notary services, try your credit union or bank. Many cities provide free notary services too.
When we moved here I didn’t get my letter notarized. It was not required in our previous state. So it does save time to know the law. It was annoying to get to the district office and have to go find a notary.
3. Deliver Your Affidavit to Your School District
Once your affidavit is notarized, either mail it to your school district or deliver it by hand. Be sure to make a copy of the notarized, signed affidavit for your records. When sending your affidavit by mail, you might consider sending it by certified mail to ensure that it gets there.
This is really important. The first year that we lived in Utah the school district lost our affidavit. I was glad that I had a copy of the signed and notarized letter.
Your school district is required by law to issue you a certificate within 30 days of receiving your signed affidavit, stating that your child is excused from attendance. Your school district cannot tell you no.
Here are a few other bits of information that will be helpful to know:
The parent of a minor who chooses to home school is solely responsible for the selection of instructional materials and text books. They are responsible for the time, place and method of instruction. The parent is responsible for the evaluation of the home school instruction that they are giving.
The local school board may not require the home school parent to maintain records of instruction or attendance. They cannot require credentials for individuals providing the instruction and they cannot inspect home school facilities. They also cannot require standardized or other testing of home school students
It is also interesting to note that in the law it states that the school district cannot prohibit or discourage voluntary cooperation, resource sharing, or testing opportunities between a school district and a parent or guardian who home schools a minor child.
That opens the door for those parents who want their children to take advantage of some classes such as typing, art, etc.
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