Read the laws regulating home education in D.C. and browse through the case law and legal opinions relating to those laws, along with government publications relating to homeschooling and summaries of the laws.
Summaries and Explanations of D.C. Homeschooling Laws
District of Columbia Home School Laws
The Home School Legal Defense Association provides a brief summary of the homeschooling laws in the District of Columbia. Includes a link to a legal analysis of laws relating to homeschooling in D.C.
D.C. Statutes Pertaining to Home Education
§ 38-202. Establishment of school attendance requirements.
- Every parent, guardian, or other person, who resides permanently or temporarily in the District during any school year and who has custody or control of a minor who has reached the age of 5 years or will become 5 years of age on or before December 31st of the current school year shall place the minor in regular attendance in a public, independent, private, or parochial school, or in private instruction during the period of each year when the public schools of the District are in session. This obligation of the parent, guardian, or other person having custody extends until the minor reaches the age of 18 years. For the purpose of this section placement in summer school is not required.
- Any minor who has satisfactorily completed the senior high school course of study prescribed by the Board and has been granted a diploma that certifies his or her graduation from high school, or who holds a diploma or certificate of graduation from another course of study determined by the Board to be at least equivalent to that required by the Board for graduation from the public senior high schools, shall be excused from further attendance at school.
- Any minor who has reached the age of 17 years may be allowed flexible school hours by the Superintendent of Schools provided he or she is actually, lawfully, gainfully, and regularly employed, but in no case shall he or she be excused entirely from regular attendance or excused to the extent that his or her timely graduation would be jeopardized or prevented.
- The Board shall, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2, issue rules to establish requirements to govern acceptable credit for studies completed at independent or private schools and private instruction, to govern the validity of applications for permission to be absent from school, to govern the selection and appointment of appropriate staff members to carry out the provisions of this chapter under the direction of the Superintendent of Schools, pursuant to Chapter 6 of Title 1, and in respect to other matters within the scope of authority of the Board that relates to this subchapter.
§ 38-206. Penalty for failure to provide correct information.
Any parent, guardian, custodian, principal, or teacher of a minor who has reached the age of 3 years who willfully neglects or refuses to provide the information required by §§ 38-202 through 38-206, or who knowingly makes any false statement, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
§ 38-204. Census of minors.
The Board, or its designee, shall conduct annually, or as frequently as may be found necessary or desirable, a complete census of all minors 3 years of age or more who permanently or temporarily reside in the District. The census record shall be amended from day to day as changes of residence occur among minors within the age group, as other persons come within or leave the age group, and as other persons within the age group become residents of or leave the District. The census record of minors shall give the full name, address, sex, and date of birth of each minor, the school attended by him or her and, if the minor is not at school, the name and address of his or her employer, if any, and the name, address, telephone numbers, if any, and occupation of each parent or guardian.
§ 38-209. Court jurisdiction.
The Family Division of the Superior Court is hereby given jurisdiction in all cases arising under this subchapter.
Home School Laws from HSLDA
Find the laws pertaining to home education for all 50 states and U.S. territories.
§ 38-205. Report of enrollments and withdrawals.
The principal or head teacher of each public, independent, private, or parochial school, and each teacher who gives private instruction, shall, in accordance with the rules adopted by the Board pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2, report to the Board the name, address, sex, and date of birth of each minor who resides permanently or temporarily in the District who transfers between schools or who enrolls in or withdraws from his or her school.
§ 38-203. Enforcement; penalties.
- An accurate daily record of the attendance of all minors covered by § 38-202 and this section shall be kept by the teachers of each public, independent, private, or parochial school and by every teacher who gives instruction privately. These records shall be open for inspection at all times by the Board, the Superintendent of Schools, school attendance officers, or other persons authorized to enforce this subchapter.
- It shall be the duty of each principal, head teacher, or school administrative officer as designated in each public, independent, private, or parochial school, and of each teacher who gives private instruction to report to the Board the school attendance of any minor covered by § 38-202(a) who is enrolled in a school or who is enrolled for private instruction and who is absent from school or instruction for more than 2 full-day sessions or 4 half-day sessions in any school month, along with a statement of the reasons for the absences.
- The absence of a minor covered by § 38-202(a) without valid excuse shall be unlawful.
- The parent, guardian, or other person who has custody or control of a minor covered by § 38-202(a) who is absent from school without a valid excuse shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
- Any person convicted of failure to keep a minor in regular attendance in a public, independent, private, or parochial school, or failure to provide regular private instruction acceptable to the Board may be fined not less than $100 or imprisoned for not more than 5 days, or both for each offense.
- Each unlawful absence of a minor for 2 full-day sessions or for 4 half-day sessions during a school month shall constitute a separate offense.
- For the 1st offense, upon payment of costs, the sentence may be suspended and the defendant may be placed on probation.
- For any person convicted under this section, the courts shall consider requiring the offender to perform community service as an alternative to fine or imprisonment or both.
Case Law and Legal Opinions
Pierce v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
In Pierce v. Society of the Sisters, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "the fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments of this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the creature of the state."
Listed here are answers to the most commonly asked District of Columbia Public Schools policy questions.
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