Our “Goal” for this episode of HSSN podcast is to provide some clarity of the Homeschool Laws in SC. It is very easy to home school in SC and we want to talk through what the law requires in layman’s terms. We have not found an audio explanation of the SC homeschooling options on the Internet.
SC has three options to choose from in terms of who you answer to from an accountability perspective. On the surface these options can seem to be very similar and that can create confusion for the homeschool parent when trying to choose an option. We will break down the differences and similarities of these three options in South Carolina. HSLDA “State Laws” map. This link is a great tool showing the level of states’ regulations at a glance. Individual states are listed at the bottom. Click on your state then click “Legal Analysis” to read what the law actually says for your state.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are our personal interpretation of the SC Homeschool law (pdf). We are not lawyers. You should review the law for yourself and/or seek legal advice.
South Carolina Home School Law Basics:
There are three options in terms of accountability in the State of SC. You can be accountable to:
Option I: The district board of trustees
Option II: South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS)
Option III: An association (of your choice) for home schools which has at least fifty members.
Options II and III seem very similar on the surface and we will explain the differences in more detail below. We will also provide some links to associations that meet the requirements for Options III.
Similarities of the Options:
Compulsory Attendance Ages: “five years of age before September first until … seventeenth birthday or graduates from high school.” Any parents whose child is “not six years of age on or before the first day of September of a particular school year may elect for their child” not to attend kindergarten, and then must sign a written document with the school district. S.C. Code § 59-65-10. The source (pdf) for this quote is HSLDA’s legal analysis of SC law.
1) A parent must have a high school diploma or GED
2) The school year must be at least 180 days
3) Subjects taught must include: Reading, writing, math, science, and social studies; composition and literature in grades 7-12.
Differences between the options:
Option I vs. Option II – read the history page on the SCAIHS web site. This history page was adapted from May/June 1992 issue of the Home School Court Report. Michael Farris said at one point, “South Carolina was the most active state in the nation in taking home schoolers to court.”
1992 – Option II – Law passed
1996 – Option III – law passed
Option II vs. III
The over arching difference between II and III is that with Option II you have a mandated accountability group (SCAIHS) vs. in Option III you can choose.
SCAIHS membership requirements are much more structured than most of the Option III accountability groups. (see their site for things like required testing for certain grade levels)
The Option III accountability groups’ membership fees are on average about 10% that of SCAIHS. However SCAIHS is much more organized and offers some benefits that none of the Option III accountability groups.
A list of accountability associations from State of SC: (CAUTION: Some track more data than the law requires.)
PACESC – $40 covers all family members
Insights on Education – $35 per family per school year (regardless of number of children in your family – no additional fees to add children during the school year).
The South Carolina Homeschool Accountability Association (http://www.tschaa.com/) – $10 covers all family members (Not mentioned or linked on SCHEA web site or HSLDA)
The accountability groups in option III are required by SC state law. The law is focused on reporting and membership requirements. The law associated with Option III does not require these associations to provide support in terms of support group meetings, field trips, cooperative education services, etc. There are a number of support groups that you can choose to join regardless of the homeschool option you choose in SC. OPTION III is the least intrusive Homeschool Option for parents in the state of SC. You are not required to provide anything directly to your school district or the state as long as you follow the requirements of your OPTION III Home School Association as defined by SC §59-65-47.
South Carolina Virtual Charter Schools:
If you choose to enroll your child in SC Virtual Charter Schools you are not considered to be home schooling in the state of SC! This method of educating your child is simply providing public school education directed by a public school teacher in a separate geographic location from the other public school kids in your district. We have heard stories about parents and even state employees confusing virtual charter schools with homeschooling. The SCVCS web site is very well worded and should create no confusion in this area. The SCVCS program is a good option for families who want public education for their children but would rather not send their children into the public school classroom. A great example is when you have a child in your home that you are not allowed to choose the education method. It might be due to custody reasons. They might be foster children that the state or social worker will not allow to be homeschooled.
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