Alabama State Law Regarding Homeschooling
Alabama does not have a specific homeschooling law. Parents who wish to teach their children at home have three legal options. The sections of the Code of Alabama which define and apply to these alternatives are given following each method.
Attend a church school (Ala. Code 16-28-1; 16-28-7; 16-28-8; 16-28-16)
Attend a private school (Ala. Code 16-28-1; 16-1-11; 16-28-7; 16-28-8; 16-30-3; 16- 30-4; 16-40-1)
Instruction by a private tutor (Ala. Code 16-28-5)
Church School Requirements
A church school operates as a ministry of a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or an association of churches which do not receive any state or federal funding. Church schools include either on-site or home programs. A home may be the location where a child receives instruction as a student enrolled in a church school. A parent may establish the church school in the home, or the home may be an extension of an existing church school.
Parents should report the enrollment of a child in a church school on a form provided by the local school district, signed by the parent and the administrator of the church school. This form should be filed once when the child is initially enrolled in the church school; there is no need to file annually.
The teacher of the church school must keep an attendance register for each child. Public schools are required to teach 180 days. There is not a specific number of days required for a church school; each church school can set their own requirements.
There are no teacher qualifications required to teach in a church school. (Ala. Code 16-28-5)
Private School Requirements
A private school is defined as schools established, conducted, and supported by a nongovernmental entity or agency offering educational instruction in grades K-12, including preschool, through on-site or home programs. Since a person is a legal entity, this means that private schools are an option for parents who want to teach their children at home, whether it is through an established private school or through a private school created with the home as its main location.
At the end of the fifth day from the opening of public school, the teacher of each private school must report on forms from the state department of education to the local superintendent of education the names and addresses of all children of compulsory attendance age who have enrolled in the private school. The teacher must keep an attendance register for each school day of the year. Weekly, the teacher of the private school should report attendance of all children enrolled in the private school and any new students who enroll. Public schools are required to teach 180 days. There is not a specific number of days required for a private school; each private school can set their own requirements.
There are no teacher requirements required to teach in a private school. (Ala. Code 16-28-5)
There are a number of requirements for private schools still in the Code of Alabama. But at the present time, the Alabama State Department of Education does not seem to be enforcing these requirements for home-based private schooling, since they are obviously meant for on-site schools.
Private Tutor Requirements
A private tutor must be certified by the state of Alabama (Ala. Code 16-28-5).
The private tutor must offer instruction in the subjects required in public schools, for at least three hours a day for 140 days each calendar year, between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm.
The private tutor must file with the local superintendent of education, a statement showing the child or children to be instructed, the subjects taught, and period of instruction. The tutor must keep a register of the child’s work showing daily hours of instruction and attendance, and make any reports that the state board of education may require.
Compulsory Attendance Age
Compulsory attendance ages are between the ages of 6 years and 17 years. The parents of a 6-year-old student (who has not previously been enrolled in an on-campus public, private, or church school) may opt out of enrolling the child in school by written notification to the local school board that the child will not be enrolled until age 7. If a student attends a church school prior to his or her 16th birthday, then he or she may withdraw at age 16. (Ala. Code 16-28-3).
Graduates of Non-Public Schools
No public two-year or four-year institution of higher learning may deny admission to an otherwise qualified student based on the fact that the student attended, graduated from, or is enrolled in a non-public school. Graduates of church schools and private schools will no longer be required to take the GED exam in order to be admitted to a state college.
Regulation of Non-Public Schools
Non-public schools are not subject to licensure or regulation by the state or any part of the state government, like the state department of education. However, regulation and reporting are different. It is still a parental responsibility to notify the local educational agency where their student(s) are enrolled, whether it is a church school, or a private school, or a private tutor.
You may hear that you do not have to register with your local school district IF you use the private school law. This is based on the wording in the 2014 law that the state does not regulate homeschoolers. Regulation and reporting are two different things; no matter which way you choose to homeschool, you must let the local school district know where your child is enrolled in school.
Homeschoolers and Public School Sports
Homeschoolers may play public school sports with the local school where the student is zoned to attend. There is no state law regarding this. The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) amended its by-laws to accommodate homeschoolers. The AHSAA recognizes a homeschool student as one who is receiving a home-based, parent-directed education in compliance with Alabama law in a home program of a church school, a home program of a private school, or with an Alabama-certified teacher (private tutor). In compliance with Alabama law, a homeschool student must be registered as such through the local city or county board of education.