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Military:  Overseas homeschooling

On This Page:

Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) overview
DoDEA Manual
Overseas homeschooling
    DoDEA policy letter on homeschooling
    AE Form 352-1B
    Remote Assignments
    Assignments in the Americas
    Using DoDDS services
    General information for PCSing to Europe
    Your Move to Germany
Host Nation Laws Overseas
Command Sponsorship
Homeschooling in Commonwealths, Territories and Possessions of the United States
Persons not affiliated with the US military
Point-by-point discussion of overseas military homeschooling jurisdiction
Military Homeschooling Pages  at NHEN
Calling Families to Account?
Outdated information for Iceland
Remote Assignments

On this site:

Homeschooling in Germany


For overseas homeschool support, please see the Military Homeschool Support page.


DoDEA is the acronym for the Department of Defense Education Activity (please Google if interested as DoDEA changes its URL too often for me to keep up).  This Activity was established in the US Code under Title 20, Chapter 25a, Overseas Defense Dependents' Education.  If you read Section 922 you will see that all jurisdiction is only within the system.  This means that the DoD schools for dependent children overseas have authority only over the children enrolled in the schools.

Children of military sponsors who are overseas are not automatically the responsibility of the local DoD dependent school.  These children come under the educational control of the local DoD dependent school only if they are enrolled and only as long as they are enrolled.  Parents have the choice to send their children to a DoDD school, a local national school, a private school, a school in the United States or any other country, or to homeschool.


DoDEA Manual
verseas the document that explains educational choice is the manual for DoD Dependent Schools (DoDDS), DoD 1342.6-m

The portion pertaining to the overseas educational choice by parents is on page PDF-page 11:

C1.4.3. The Installation Commanders shall:
C1.4.3.6. Encourage all eligible dependents who have not completed high school to enroll in a DoDDS approved education program. If a DoDDS program is unsuitable to the parents, the installation commander shall encourage the parents to enroll their dependents in an alternate program.

Overseas homeschooling

DoDEA Policy Letter on Homeschooling
AE Form 352-1B  Parent Choice of Education for School-age Children
Remote Assignments
Assignments in the Americas
Using DoDDS Services

DoDEA Policy Letter on Homeschooling

DoDEA has no opinion on homeschooling.  By law DoD dependent schools must support all children overseas who are authorized to attend DoD dependent schools as "space-required, tuition-free" students.  In response to the change in the Defense Authorization bill of 2000, DoDEA issued  a policy letter on homeschooling.

Remote Assignments

DoDEA is tasked with providing school services for all eligible children of military sponsors assigned overseas.  When families are assigned to installations that are either remote from large American installations, or areas where there are not enough children to justify establishing a DoD school, DoDEA-funded home instruction may be available. 

A fly in the ointment may be the availability of embassy schools, in which case the family would have to pick up the cost of homeschooling, just as do any parents, military or civilian, who choose to homeschool.

  • NON-DoD Schools Program

    The Non-DoD Schools Program (NDSP) provides support and funding for the education of eligible dependents of sponsors assigned at locations where the DoD does not operate a school within commuting distance.

    DoDEA Regulation 1035.1, "Use of Non-DoD Schools," August 14, 2003 , contains the policy, responsibilities, and guidelines for the education of eligible dependents of DoD personnel at overseas locations where there are no DoD schools.
  • Enrollment eligibility for dependents of DoD personnel assigned to an overseas area is governed by the provisions of DoD Directive 1342.13, "Eligibility Requirements for Education of Minor Dependents in Overseas Area," latest change as of 2008.
    The amount of financial assistance which may be offered is defined by the Department of State in the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR).

    Sponsors MUST obtain approval for tuition and other expenses from the appropriate DoDEA Area office prior to incurring any expense.

    Payments for tuition and certain other expenses to defray the education costs are approved by the NDSP Area managers for the eligible dependents of DoD personnel who must attend a non-DoD school.

    Registration procedures and other information about the Non-DoD Schools Program may be found by selecting the appropriate location of assignment below:

    Non-DoD Schools Program/Americas
    (Countries located in North America , Central America , South America , the Caribbean Islands )

    Non-DoD Schools Program/Europe
    (Countries located in Europe , Africa (including the Malagasy Republic , The Comoros, and the Seychelles ), the Near East, and Southwestern Asia (up to the border of Pakistan and India )).

    Non-DoD Schools Program/Pacific
    (Countries located in Asia from the border of Pakistan and India to the Pacific Rim, Australia and in the Pacific and Indian oceans).


Other choices are:
U.S. Department of State's  Office of Overseas Schools 
International School


Using DoDDS services

Because of the inclusion in the Defense Appropriations Bill of the requirement to support eligible children overseas who are being homeschooled, DoDDS must now provide services for unenrolled children.  Because DoDDS receives funding only for enrolled students, the organization is not compensated for the services it provides to homeschooled children.  If you plan to use, or are already using, DoDDS services, consider enrollment as your way of maintaining the services for the community.


Host Nation laws
The only families overseas who are relieved from the responsibility of following host nation law are those who are command sponsored and are living in the host nation under the auspices of a status of forces agreement (SOFA). 

The United States has negotiated such agreements with each country in which American military forces are stationed.  Each SOFA is particular to the host nation but typically contains information on driving licenses, firearms, tax relief, lack of host nation voting rights for members of the force merely because of presence in the host nation, and lack of social benefits unless a dependent is employed by a host nation business.  Education is typically not a feature of SOFAs.  American children usually are allowed to enroll in a host nation school but compulsory school attendance laws are held to be superceded by the SOFA.

Command Sponsorship
For homeschooling families the chief benefit of command sponsorship is relief from the requirement to follow host nation school attendance laws.  Command sponsored families have a SOFA stamp in each person's passport.  'Individually-sponsored' or 'non-command sponsored' family members will not have the stamp because they will have tourist passports instead of government issued no-fee passports.  This difference means that technically the children of non-command sponsored families who live in countries where homeschooling is illegal are required to attend school whether that is a DoD dependent school, a host nation school or a private school.

Command sponsorship can be obtained after arriving in-country but there may be restrictions depending on the host nation or on dependent levels in-country.  The Navy has restricts command sponsorship in certain cases in Japan.

Command sponsored dependent levels are restricted overseas.  School availability, housing availability and the possibility of the resources for the evacuation of non-combatants in case of hostilities or natural disaster are some of the reasons for the restrictions.  Non-command sponsored dependents can get medical care and will be evacuated if an emergency situation arises but may otherwise be restricted as to the services they can use.  Restrictions (if any) depend on the particulars of the SOFA negotiated with each host nation. These restrictions may even apply to active-duty personnel touring outside their country of assignment.  Military police searches in exchange parking lots of POVs with license plates from countries other than that of the host nation are not unknown.

Military family members accompanying a sponsor who is stationed in Hawai'i or Alaska are not considered to be overseas for educational purposes; state laws apply.

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. 

Persons not affiliated with the US Military

Families who are overseas and are not affiliated with the US Military are said to be 'ordinarily resident' in a foreign country and are not relieved of the obligation to follow local laws.  This means that non-military civilians who have school-age children are obligated to enroll the children in local schools if that's the local requirement.

Calling families to account?

Update 5 Feb 04
Concerning the paragraph in the 2003/2004 Student Eligibility Enrollment Data Handbook noted under "Calling Families to Account?" stating that an overseas installation commander could "require attendance in DoDDS, an alternative school approved by DoDDS, or some alternative program acceptable to the commander as a condition of continued command sponsorship." DoDDS has advised me that the paragraph has been superceded and will be replaced by an excerpt from the current DoDEA policy letter on homeschooling.

I thank DoDEA and DoDDS for their quick, kind attention to this matter.  It is appreciated.

Original report
The 2003/2004 Student Eligibility Enrollment Data Handbook* issued by DoDEA has a paragraph on page 40 that is contradicted by the DoDEA policy letter on homeschooling (PDF format, see top of left navigation bar for Acrobat Reader) *The handbook site does not open easily through a hotlinked URL.  To read the handbook go to the DoDEA search page and enter the handbook title in the search box. The handbook has a security window popup that is 'normal,' it doesn't indicate any abnormality or virus.

The DoDEA handbook states, "When a family declines to enroll an overseas dependent in DoDDS, the installation commander may call the family to account for this decision. The commander controls access to the military installation, and whether the overseas dependents are Ēcommand sponsoredĒ or not, the commander may predicate continued logistical support (e.g., commissary and exchange privileges) for the sponsorís school age dependents on enrollment in some school program that serves the interests of the child. Hence, the installation commander may require attendance in DoDDS, an alternative school approved by DoDDS, or some alternative program acceptable to the commander as a condition of continued command sponsorship."

Conversely, DoDEA's own policy letter on homeschooling states, "It is DoDEA policy neither to encourage nor discourage DoD sponsors from home schooling their minor dependents. DoDEA recognizes that home schooling is a sponsorís right and can be a legitimate alternative form of education for the sponsorís dependents."

In addition to contradicting DoDEA's policy letter the eligibility handbook statement also seems to err concerning an installation commander's power if he or she disagrees with a family's educational choice.  According to Section II, paragraph 11, subparagraph b (PDF page 11) of UR 27-9, the USAREUR regulation concerning civilian misconduct, "Relationship of the sanction to the offense. The administrative action imposed should bear a rational relationship to the offense committed (for example, suspension of driving privileges for misconduct involving an automobile, but not for shoplifting at an AAFES exchange)."   Homeschooling, though, is not misconduct.  Threatening disbarment from an installation for an action that is legal is perverse.

The statement in the eligibility handbook assumes the installation commander has educational oversight of families living within the area of the commander's responsibility.  However, according to DoD 1342.6, Administrative and Logistic Responsibilities for DoD Dependents Schools,  the installation commander is responsible to the school only for logistical support.  If parents of enrolled DoDDS students take issue with school policies DoD 1342.6 states that the commander will, "C1.4.3.24. Refer parents, guardians, or sponsors with problems about DoDDS academic operations to the school principal."  Since an installation commander has no educational authority for a facility to which is owed full logistical support then homeschooling, a family-funded activity, is surely out of the commander's jurisdiction.  If there is no wrongdoing or neglect on the part of the parents, the choice of homeschooling method or style belongs to the parents.  Should there be any documented abuse or neglect of the child(ren) then the commander has the ability, through such regulations as the Army's Family Advocacy Program regulation, AR 608-18 to take action to protect the children.  (neglect is addressed on page 81)

It must be remembered that, in the words of Ann Lahrson-Fisher writing at the Home Education Magazine site concerning child abuse, "One message does not appear to penetrate official thinking in these cases. Child abusers are criminals. CRIMINALS DO NOT COMPLY WITH LAWS that expose their crimes. Revising homeschooling laws to catch child abuse will result in child abusing criminals hiding elsewhere. Refocusing homeschooling laws on child abuse prevention will result in one thing only: a bureaucratic nightmare and the invasion of the privacy of the 99.9+% of homeschooling citizens who are not criminals."

A commander has no authority to tell parents to send their children to DoDDS or to a public school instead of a private school, a host-nation school, a Christian school, a Waldorf school, a Montessori school or the Sudbury School.   Therefore it follows that a commander can not direct parents concerning homeschooling. 

If a child attending any school is abused or neglected the commander has the authority under his or her service's family advocacy regulation to take action.  The same holds for a homeschooled child.  It is no more reasonable for a homeschooling parent to say that public school parents are neglecting their children by sending them away from home to be educated than it is for DoDEA to insinuate that homeschooling parents deserve to be removed from their homes and refused entrance to an installation because they homeschool.   The act of homeschooling does not give the commander the right to, ". . . call the family to account for this decision."  Parents do not surrender their freedom of educational concerning their children because they choose homeschooling any more than they surrender book choice by not using the installation library, food choice by shopping on the economy or clothing choice by purchasing clothes from a catalog.  Attendance at a DoDD school is a benefit, not a requirement.

The DoDEA booklet contains other misinformation.  Also on page 40 the booklet states, "In accordance with USAREUR Memorandum dated 23 Oct, 2000 all eligible command sponsored students not attending a DoDDS facility within USAREUR must complete registration requirements through the community schools officer."  That USAREUR memorandum is outdated. (click on Policies in the left hand navigation bar [the 'pencils'], on Outdated Policy Letters and on Home School Policy)

The requirement to report to the schools officer is also discordant because, again in DoD 1342.6 there is an admonition against a schools officer being involved in any educational decisions.  C1.4.3. The Installation Commanders shall:  C1.4.3.13. Appoint a staff member . . . to serve as an installation school's officer. The school's officer shall function as a liaison between the school principal(s) and the Military Department installation staff, but shall not be assigned responsibility for any aspect of operating the school(s). Preferably the school's officer should be physically located in the headquarters area rather than in the school."  The DoDEA booklet "Roles and Responsibilities of Schools Officers" states, "The school officer is not responsible for any aspect of the schoolís operation, but performs a wide range of duties and responsibilities to support the operation of the school.

Homeschooling is not a DoDDS function (as stated by DoDEA:  "Sponsors are responsible for complying with applicable local requirements.").  If a schools officer has homeschooling information, that is nice, but reporting to a schools officer is outside the function of the office.

It doesn't inspire confidence in DoDEA when in an official booklet the advice is that DoDEA, "encourages families who wish to home school their children to communicate their desire to the local military community commander to determine if there are policies or other rules that ensure that home schooling practices meets host nation or state requirements" if the information provided by DoDEA concerning homeschooling doesn't agree with its own policy letter on the subject. 

DoDEA needs to update the homeschooling information provided to the military community.  Commanders as well as parents depend on receiving accurate information.



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This site was last updated:  Wednesday, 10 March 2010