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Military:  CONUS homeschooling

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State of residence contrasted with home of record 
No federal educational jurisdiction 
State Laws 
Family members overseas 
Puerto Rico and Guam 

State of residence contrasted with home of record

In any of the fifty states military family members follow the education rules of the state where they are living, just as any other civilian is required to do.  Our sponsors are the military members, family members are civilians.  An exception would be if the at-home parent is a member of the Reserve or National Guard.  In that case, the 'military status' would apply only when the at-home parent is actively training, or is activated.  Under normal circumstances, the 'civilian' status applies.

 Military homeschoolers don't 'retain' their home-of-record education laws because education of children is a province of each state's Department of Education.  At the Secretary of Defense's 1st Senior Enlisted Advisors Forum the issue of a standard graduation requirement for military dependent high school seniors in public schools was discussed. On PDF file page29/document page 27 the answer to the desire for a single standard is that educational responsibility is retained at the state & local level and each state has its own requirements. The same applies to homeschooling.

Some families hope to claim residency in the state of their home of record because either the laws are easier to comply with, or the family has already adjusted to that style of record-keeping, but the presence of the family's abode in another state would probably be considered evidence that they 'live' where their house is.  Relief for military personnel for driving licenses, taxes and other items are addressed by the 50 U. S. Code Appendix War and National Defense Act Oct 17, 1940. Education of children is not at issue because family members are not military personnel.  As indicated on DD Form 2058 state taxes will be withheld from military pay based on the home of record. However, a dependent spouse's withholding would be for the state where he/she is employed regardless of home of record. The spouse, though, retains the home of record for voting purposes.  Be sure to find out the laws of your state of residence pertaining to driving licenses and payment of state taxes on income earned in that state.


No federal educational jurisdiction

Some years ago a blanket 'military homeschooling' exception was requested of (then) Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and the photocopy of a letter that circulated in the overseas military homeschooling community in Europe read in part:

This is in response to your letter of August 18 to Secretary Cheney concerning your interest in home schooling.

Public education within the United States is a matter which our constitutional system leaves to the discretion of each State. Each State, therefore, makes its own laws pertaining to education. These laws are binding on all persons within the State's border, including the dependents of the Department of Defense (DoD) (including the Military Services). The Secretary of Defense does not have the legal authority to issue the kind of regulatory exemption from State education laws which you have suggested.

The federal government has no authority to make schooling laws so there is no legislation allowing home-of-record educational compliance for military dependents.  Just as military children attending a local school are taught in accordance with the guidelines of the state of residence, so, too are military homeschoolers expected to comply with local laws. 

Attorney Deborah Stevenson of Connecticut makes the point of a lack of federal regulation in her analysis of HR 2732, a bill that would introduce homeschooling further into federal law.  She writes, "Contrary to popular belief, the United States Constitution does not allow the federal government to regulate education of any kind. The tenth amendment to the Constitution plainly states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."


Private school information

US Department of Education website with a synopsis of state-by-state private school regulations from June of 2000.  For some reason they include state homeschool statutes as well.  I'm not sure how to feel about what that says because some states consider homeschooling in a separate niche from private schools but it does make it handy to find the gist of the various state homeschooling regulations.  If you are looking for the current laws if you're either new to homeschooling or are PCSing be sure to Google the current state requirements using the archived state law numbers as part of your keywords.  The Home Education Magazine website has links to state legislative webpages.

State Laws

State laws about home education

Military homeschoolers move often.  To find people who have already figured out the laws of 'where you're going' go to the Yahoo email list site and type in the state your next duty station is in and also 'homeschooling.' You should be able to find at least one list of homeschoolers who know how to negotiate the new laws you'll encounter.

Ages of Compulsory School Attendance


Family members overseas

If you are in Hawai'i or Alaska you are not  'overseas' for educational purposes because Hawai'i and Alaska are American states.  Puerto Rico and Guam are also not considered 'overseas' for education purposes (see the next entry).

Overseas military family members live in the host nation under military auspices and the particulars of their presence has been qualified by treaty-type documents called Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) that codify their 'temporaryness' in the host nation.  Because of the SOFAs   military members and their dependents are considered "not ordinarily resident."  Overseas military dependents are under host nation jurisdiction but they are granted relief from some local requirements, again by the terms of the SOFA. In contrast, while military family members are living in a state other than that of their home of record they are under that state's laws just like anyone else who moves to that state.  In CONUS there are no Status of Forces Agreements between the states.

Additional information for homeschooling families living in other countries is at Overseas homeschooling.


Puerto Rico and Guam

omeschooling in Commonwealths, Territories and Possessions of the United States.

Although military families assigned to Puerto Rico or Guam are 'over the sea' they are not homeschooling in a foreign country.  Because of the commonwealth's or territory's relationship with the United States the education laws of these 'overseas-but-not-foreign' assignments apply to military homeschoolers. 

As with all information from official sources before you act on it ask veteran homeschoolers in that state (usually on email lists) how they follow the law.




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This site was last updated:  Wednesday, 10 March 2010