Alabama Laws and Regulations

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An overview of the homeschool laws and regulations of Alabama, along with links to legislative source information, additional reference materials and government resources on homeschooling.

Alabama State Legislature

Department of Education

Revised 9/1/82

CERTAIN LAWS AND STATE BOARD RESOLUTIONS THAT PERTAIN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN ALABAMA (Excerpts from Code of Alabama 1975 to 1982)

16-1-11. Private schools to register and report. All private schools or institutions of any kind having a school in connection therewith, except church schools as defined in Section 16-28-1, shall register annually on or before October 10 with the department of education and shall report on uniform blanks furnished by the state superintendent of education, giving such statistics as relate to the number of pupils, the number of instructors, enrollment, attendance, course of study, length of term, cost of tuition, funds, value of property and the general condition of the school. (School Code 1927, Section 599; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 547.)

16-28-1. Private School. (A) The term “private school” as used in this chapter, shall mean and only include such schools as hold a certificate issued by the state superintendent of education, showing that such school conforms to the following requirements: (1) The instruction in such schools shall be by persons holding certificates issued by the state superintendent of education; (2) Instruction shall be offered in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this state; (3) The English language shall be used in giving instructions; (4) A register of attendance shall be kept which clearly indicates every absence of each child from such school for a half day or more during each school day of the school year; (B) The term church school, as used in this chapter, shall mean and only include such schools as offer instruction in grades K-12, or any combination thereof including the kindergarten, elementary, or secondary level and are operated as a ministry of a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or association of churches of a nonprofit basis which do not receive any state or federal funding. (School Code 1927, Section 302; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 299.)

16-28-3. Ages of children required to attend school. Every child between the ages of seven and 16 years shall be required to attend public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a competent private tutor for the entire length of the school term in every scholastic year except that every child attending a church school as defined in 16-28-1 is exempt from the requirements of this section, provided such child complies with enrollment and reporting procedure specified in Section 16-28-7, Code of Alabama 1975. Admission to public school shall be on an individual basis on the application of the parents, legal custodian or guardian of the child to the local board of education at the beginning of each school year, under such rules and regulations as the board may prescribe. (School Code 1927, Section 301; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 297; Acts 1956, 2nd Ex. Sess., No. 117, p. 446, Section 3.)

16-28-5. Private Tutor. Instruction by a private tutor means and includes only instruction by a person who holds a certificate issued by the state superintendent of education and who offers instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this state, for at least three hours a day for 140 days each calendar year, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and who uses the English language in giving instruction. Such private tutor shall, prior to beginning the instruction of any child, file with the county superintendent of education, where his place of instruction is in territory under the control and supervision of the county board of education, or the city superintendent of schools, where his place of instruction is in territory under the control and supervision of a city board of education, a statement showing the child or children to be instructed, the subjects to be taught and the period of time such instruction is proposed to be given. Such tutor shall keep a register of work, showing daily the hours used for instruction and the presence or absence of any child being instructed and shall make such reports as the state board of education may require. (School Code 1927, Section 303; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 300.)

16-28-6. Children exempt from attending public school.

(a) The following children, when issued certificates of exemption by the county superintendent of education, where they reside in territory under the control and supervision of the county board of education, or the city superintendent of schools, where they reside in territory under the control and supervision of a city board of education, shall not be required to attend school, or to be instructed by a private tutor:

(1) Children whose physical or mental condition is such as a to prevent or render inadvisable attendance at school or application to study. Before issuing such certificate of exemption, the superintendent shall require a certificate from the county health officer in counties which have a health unit, and from a regularly licensed, practicing physician in counties which do not have a health unit, that such a child is physically or mentally incapacitated for school work;

(2) Children 16 years of age and upward or children who have completed the course of study of the public schools of the state through high school as now constituted;

(3) Where because of the distance children reside from school and the lack of public transportation such children would be compelled to walk over two miles to attend a public school;

(4) Where the children are legally and regularly employed under the provisions of the law relating to child labor and hold permits to work granted under the terms of said child labor law.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed so as to deny any right to any child granted under the provisions of sections 16-39-1 through 16-39-12. (School Code 1927, Section 304; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 301, Acts 1947, No. 676, p. 517; Acts 1971, No. 2484, p. 3965.)

16-28-7. Report of enrollment. At the end of the fifth day from the opening of the public school, the principal teacher of each public school, private school, and each private tutor, but not church school, shall report on forms prescribed by the state superintendent of education to the county superintendent of education, in the event the school is operated in territory under the control and supervision of the county board of education, the names and addresses of all children between the ages of seven and 16 years who have enrolled in such schools; and thereafter, throughout the compulsory attendance period, the principal teacher of each school and private tutor shall report at least weekly the names and addresses of all children between the ages of seven and 16 years who enroll in said school or who, having enrolled, were absent without being excused, or whose absence was not satisfactorily explained by the parent, guardian or other person having control of the child. The enrollment and attendance of a child in a church school shall be filled with the local public school superintendent by the parent, guardian or other person in charge or control of the child on a form provided by the superintendent or his agent which shall be countersigned by the administrator of the church school and returned to the public school superintendent by the parent. Should said child cease attendance at a church school, the parent, guardian, or other person in charge or control of the child shall by prior consent at the time of enrollment direct the church school to notify the local public school superintendent or his agent that said child no longer is in attendance at a church school. (School Code 1927, Section 309; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 306.)

16-28-8. Reports required must be furnished. All school officers, including those in private schools, or private tutors, but not those in church schools, in this state, offering instruction to pupils within the compulsory attendance ages, shall make and furnish all reports the may be required by the sate superintendent of education and by the county superintendent of education or by the board of education of any city with reference to the workings of this chapter. The principal teacher of each public school, private school, church school, and each private tutor shall keep an attendance register showing the enrollment of the school and every absence of each enrolled child from school for a half day or more during each school day of the year. (School Code 1927, Section 310; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 307.)

16-28-11. Enrollment report and list of potential students compared. The county superintendent of education or the city superintendent of schools, as the case may be, shall upon the receipt of the report from teachers and private tutors showing the enrollment of children between the ages of seven and 16 years compare and study reports with the list which has been compiled of the children who should attend each school and ascertain what child or children required to attend school are not enrolled. (School Code 1927, Section 313; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 310.)

16-28-12. Person in loco parents responsible for child’s attendance. Each parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of any child required to attend school or be regularly instructed by a private tutor who fails to have such child enrolled in school or who fails to send such child to school or have him instructed by a private tutor during the time such child is required to attend a public school, private school, or be instructed by a private tutor, or fails to require such child to regularly attend such school or tutor, or fails to compel such child to properly conduct himself as a pupil, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $100.00 and may also be sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than 90 days. The absence of a child without the consent of the principal teacher of the school he attends or should attend or the tutor who instructs or should instruct such child shall be prima facie evidence of the violation of this section. (School Code 1927, Section 305; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 302.)

16-28-13. Burden of proof on person in loco parents. No parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of any child shall be convicted for failure to have said child enrolled in school or for failure to send a child to school or for failure to require such child to regularly attend such school or tutor, or for failure to compel such child to properly conduct himself as a pupil, if such parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of such child can establish to the reasonable satisfaction of the court the following: (1) That the principal teacher in charge of said school which he attends or should attend or the tutor who instructs or should instruct said child gave permission for the child to be absent; or (2) That such parent, guardian or other person is unable to provide necessary books and clothes in order that he child may attend school in compliance with law, and that such parent, guardian or other person had prior to the opening of the school, or immediately after the beginning of such dependency, reported such dependent condition to the juvenile court of the county and offered to turn the child over to the state department of pensions and security as a dependent child; or (3) That such parent, guardian or other person has made a bona fide effort to control such child and is unable to do so, and files in court a written statement that he is unable to control such child; or (4) That there exists a good cause or valid excuse for such absence; or (5) That such parent, guardian or other person has made a bona fide, diligent effort to secure the regular attendance of such child and that the absence was without his knowledge, connivance or consent.

16-28-15. Absence must be explained. Every parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of any child required to attend public school, private school, or church school, shall as soon as practical explain the cause of any absence of the child under his control or charge which was without permission of the teacher, and a failure to furnish such explanation shall be admissible as evidence of such child being a truant with the consent and connivance of the person in control or charge of said child, unless such person can show to the reasonable satisfaction of the court that he had no knowledge of such absence and that he had been diligent in his efforts to secure the attendance of such child. (School Code 1927, Section 308; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 305.)

16-28-17. When child may be taken into custody. It shall be the duty of the attendance officer, probation officer or other officer authorized to execute writs of arrest to take into custody without warrant any child required to attend school or be instructed by a private tutor who is found away from home and not in the custody of the person having charge or control of such child during school hours and who has been reported by any person authorized to begin proceedings or prosecutions under the provisions of this chapter as a truant. Such child shall forthwith be delivered to the person having charge or control of said child or to the principal teacher of the school or the private tutor from whom said child is a truant. If such child is an habitual truant, he shall be brought before the juvenile court for such disposition as the judge of said court finds proper from the facts. (School Code 1927, Section 315; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 312.)

16-28-22. Prosecutions. No prosecution or proceeding under this chapter shall be begun except by The following parties: (1) The county superintendent of education or city superintendent of schools where the matter affects a school or private tutor in territory under his supervision; or (2) An attendance officer; or (3) The principal teacher of the school which the child attends or should attend; or (4) The private tutor by whom the child is instructed or should be instructed; or (5) The probation officer of the county; or (6) A duly authorized agent of the state superintendent of education or the department of pensions and security. (School Code 1927, Section 324; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 320.)

16-28-23. Attendance register and rules and regulations as evidence. The registry of attendance of pupils kept by any public school, private school, church school, or private tutor in compliance with the provisions of law or any rule and regulation promulgated by the state board of education shall be admissible as evidence of the existence or nonexistence of the facts it is required to show. A copy of any rule and regulation of the state board of education, duly certified as true and correct by the state superintendent of education shall be admissible as evidence of the provisions of such rule and regulations, and the statement in the certificate of the state superintendent of education of the date of the promulgation shall be admissible as evidence that such rule or regulation was duly promulgated on the day and date named. (School Code 1927, Section 325; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 321.)

16-4-16. The state superintendent of education shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, and submit for approval and adoption by the state board of education a uniform series of forms and blanks for the use of county boards of education, boards of education of cities, school officials and teachers, and it shall be his duty to see that all financial matters and all educational records are made according to these forms and blanks. He shall also prepare, or cause to be prepared, and submit for approval and adoption by the state board of education forms and blanks to be used in the annual report and the monthly reports of persons conducting private schools and of private educational associations, corporations or institutions except church schools as defined in Section 16-28-1.

16-40-1. Physical education required. Every public school and private school, except church schools as defined in 16-28-1, shall carry out a system of physical education, the character of which shall conform to the program or course outlined by the department of education. (School Code 1927, Section 621; Code 1940, T. 52, Section 555.)

Section 10. Notwithstanding entitlement to the exemptions provided church school sunder Section 16-28-1, 16-1-11, 16-28-3, 16-28-7, 16-28-8, 16-28-15, 16-28-23 and 16-40-1 any church school s defined in Section 16-28-1 (B) shall certify to the local public school superintendent on forms supplied by the superintendent to the requesting church school that the exemptions specified herein are waived.

Note: Alabama does not recognize homeschooling as a separate legal option. Homeschoolers in Alabama must educate their children according to the provisions set forth in this legislation and therefore, most find “covering” or “umbrella” schools which will oversee their homeschooling programs and answer to the state.

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