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History of GA Homeschool Laws

Georgia Insight on History of Home Study Law in Georgia

 

Parents may NOT be forced to send their children to public schools.

-Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925, U.S. Supreme Court
Characteristics of Parents who educate their Children at Home
They tend to be individualistic, law-abiding, concerned about their parent role, dissatisfied with available options in contemporary education, and actively engaged in implementing their own solution. They desire to reestablish the home as the basic unit in a free enterprise society and are willing to confront social opposition in order to meet their personal goals.
-"Selected Characteristics of Home Schools & Parents Who Operate Them", 1981, by Gunnar A. Gustavsen, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan

[The author surveyed 312 home school operators across the nation and used the findings to write his doctoral thesis.]

Home Education - Georgia Style

A Georgia Judge Speaks - "Five Laws That Teachers May Be Violating Today"

  1. The Federal Hatch Amendment
  2. State Child Abuse Laws
  3. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
  4. The Free Exercise Clause
  5. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment

-By Braswell Deen, Jr., Chief Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals

 

Major Reasons for Home Schooling

1978

  1. "Educators generally agree that it is nearly impossible to provide education without also imparting values," states "Moral Education in the Schools", by Wm. Bennett & Edwin Delattre, The Public Interest, Winter 1978.
  2. The Hatch Amendment passed Congress to protect student and family privacy in psychological tests. Although it passed in 1978, Hatch was ineffective for seven years because it was not regulated until 1985.
  3. "We will need to recognize that the so-called 'basic skills', which currently represent nearly the total effort in elementary schools, will be taught in one quarter of the present school day. The remaining time will be devoted to what is truly fundamental and basic - time for academic inquiry, time for students to develop their own interests, time for a dialogue between students and teachers. When this happens - and it's near - the teacher can rise to his true calling. More than a dispenser of information, the teacher will be a conveyor of values, a philosopher. Teachers no longer will be victims of change; we will be agents of change."

    -By Katherine Barrett, former National Education Association (NEA) President, The Freeman Digest, September 1978, p. 29

  4. The National Association of Home Educators was founded to promote excellence in home education, to assist parents in establishing legal home schools and in obtaining curricula. It acts as a clearing house for resources and keeps parents updated about legislation and court rulings that may affect their rights.

1980

In June new regulations for Georgia's Compulsory Attendance law were presented to the State Board of Education. The proposal never went to a vote but would have defined schools as follows:
  1. A public school must be operated by the State or its political subdivision.
  2. A private school must have:
    1. a minimum of 15 students regularly enrolled for at least 4 ½ hours daily, 180 days annually;
    2. a facility primarily used for instruction, for which an occupancy certificate has been issued by fire inspection authorities; and
    3. a minimum of one teacher who is a college graduate of a regionally accredited institution.

1982

"Socialization - and lack of it in home schools - is at the root of most public educator's opposition to such schools. 'The most important aspect of schooling is socialization rather than the skills. That's the way teachers are trained in college today and why academics are not stressed. Humanism - the child's well-being in life with his fellow man and love of people around him come first .... [Parents] expect the child to be perfect, and they push the child to achieve.'"
-"Private School Requirements Lax; Only Child's Attendance Compulsory", by Judy Hotchkiss, Southside & Fayette Sun Newspaper, 12-23-82

January 13, 1983

The January 13th edition of the Atlanta Journal article, "Rules Proposed to End Home Schools in Georgia", by Jane Hansen, reported that the same day the superintendent proposed his anti-home-school regulations, a Stephens County home-school couple was convicted of 19 violations of the state's compulsory attendance law. Sentencing was set for January 20th for Terry and Vickie Roemhild of Martin, Georgia, about 15 miles south of Toccoa.

January 22, 1983

Because the State Board of Education had been presented regulations that would outlaw home education, home schooling families and friends met at the Lilburn City Hall and organized Georgians for Freedom in Education (GFE) on January 22nd. The proposed regulations were the same as those never brought to a vote in 1980.

GFE's First Project

Since the state board vote on the new regulations would be February 9th, 18 days after GFE's inception, they compiled and sent state-wide 200 packets of information to home educators, private schools, interested organizations, friends and allies.

Results:

  1. Home school parents lobbied the governor, the state school board, representatives and senators and caused Rockdale and Gwinnett County representatives to meet with the State School Superintendent.
  2. Superintendent Charles McDaniel agreed to drop two of the three points in the new policy but continued to require private schools to have at least 15 students.
  3. Home educators attended the State School Board meeting on February 9th and February 10th and
  4. they stopped the proposal.

Terry Roemhild et al. v. State

In July 1981 the Roemhilds began teaching their children at home and in a September 11th letter informed the local school principal, the local superintendent of schools and the state superintendent of schools that they were doing so.

The State Department of Education replied that home-study decisions were made on the local level between parents, the school system and legal authorities. Their principal and superintendent would not discuss the matter with them.

The Superior Court trial judge found them guilty of violating the compulsory attendance law 19 times - once for each of the days their children did not go to public school.

However, they appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court that, on October 25, 1983, reversed the lower court's decision.

March, 1984

The Phyllis Schlafly Report referenced the Roemhild v. State case and stated, "The Court voided the Georgia compulsory school law as unconstitutional because it is impermissibly vague in violation of due process." She further stated that it was a significant victory for the Roemhilds and for the principle of home schooling.

1984

Home Education became legal in Georgia as S.B. 504 passed the Senate 52-1 & the House 146-24
Provisions of S.B. 504:
  1. Parents must submit to their local school superintendent a declaration of intent to teach their children at home.
  2. The declaration must include the names and ages of the students enrolled in home study.
  3. Parents or guardians must have a high school diploma or G.E.D. and employ a tutor with a baccalaureate degree.
  4. The basic educational program must include reading, language arts, math, social studies and science.
  5. Instruction must be provided 4½ hours per day for 180 days per year.
  6. Attendance records must be submitted to the local school superintendent at the end of each month.
  7. Student progress must be tested every three years and the results retained by the parent or guardian.
  8. An annual progress assessment must be written by the parent or instructor and retained for three years.
Priceless quotes from Senators & Representatives during the 1984 debate on S.B. 504
"'[This bill] restores faith and hope in our ability as a people to govern ourselves ....". -Senator John Foster
"Whether we agree or not, parents have the right to educate their children [at home]." -Senator Roy Barnes
In the House Education Committee the explanations for the two dissenting votes were as follows:
  1. Paul Heard voted against S.B. 504 because he questioned "why the state infringes upon parents' rights and dictates to parents any requirements for education".
  2. Representative Bill Jackson said that "in Russia, they literally take the babies out of the mothers' arms and dictate every moment of a child's life - from the cradle to the grave." He thought S.B. 504 gave too much state control over the lives of parents and children.

Conclusion

Georgians for Freedom in Education have been joined by other organizations that support and fight for home education.

The Roemhilds' court case revealed the need for changing Georgia's compulsory attendance law to legalize home education. Terry and Vickie deserve your sincere gratitude for their courage and tenacity.

The 1984 legislators listened to home educators and consulted them as they wrote S.B. 504 to legalize home education.

During the past 14 years since that bill passed, there has been no change in the home school law although local school principals and superintendents have, at times, demanded more of home school parents and students than the law dictates. Home school parents know their rights and responsibilities and have withstood illegal regulations.

The first real challenge to the 1984 law came in H.B. 586 in 1997 and school social workers were the only ones speaking for it before the House Education Committee hearing.

You lobbied and won. Your hard-fighting predecessors would be proud of you. Congratulations!


HEIR is re-publishing the preceding article with permission from Georgia insight published by:

Sue Ella Deadwyler
4168 Rue Antoinette
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083

This article was originally presented as a speech by Sue Ella Deadwyler at Harvest Home Educators' Conference on April 24, 1998.

 

06/19/99 created
© 1999 Home Education Information Resource (HEIR)