An overview of the homeschool laws and regulations of Idaho, along with links to legislative source information, additional reference materials and government resources on homeschooling.
Compulsory attendance between the ages of 7 up to 16
Teacher certification required – No
State required subjectscourses – Subjects usually taught in the public schools
Required number of hours per day per year – Equal to that of the public schools.
Title 33: Education
Chapter 2: Attendance At Schools
The Idaho parent may choose between (1) homeschool (2) Public (3) Private (4) Parochial.
Title 33: Education
Chapter 2 – Attendance At Schools
33-202. School Attendance Compulsory.
The parent or guardian of any child resident in this state who has attained the age of seven (7) years at the time of the commencement of school in his district, but not the age of sixteen (16) years, shall cause the child to be instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of the state of Idaho. Unless the child is otherwise comparably instructed, the parent or guardian shall cause the child to attend a public, private or parochial school during a period in each year equal to that in which the public schools are in session; there to conform to the attendance policies and regulations established by the board of trustees, or other governing body, operating the school attended.
Title 33: Education
Chapter 2 – Attendance At Schools
33-203. Dual Enrollment.
- The parent or guardian of a child of school age who is enrolled in a nonpublic school shall be allowed to enroll the student in a public school for dual enrollment purposes. The board of trustees of the school district shall adopt procedures governing enrollment pursuant to this section. If enrollment in a specific program reaches the maximum for the program, priority for enrollment shall be given to a student who is enrolled full time in the public school.
- Any student participating in dual enrollment may enter into any program in the public school available to other students subject to compliance with the same rules and requirements that apply to any student’s participation in the activity.
- Any school district shall be allowed to include dual-enrolled nonpublic school students for the purposes of state funding only to the extent of the student’s participation in the public school programs.
- Oversight of academic standards relating to participation in nonacademic public school activities shall be the responsibility of the primary educational provider for that student. In order for the nonpublic school student to participate in nonacademic public school activities the nonpublic school student shall achieve a minimum score on the achievement test required annually by the state board of education, and that score shall be used to determine eligibility for the following year. The student shall be eligible if the minimum composite test score places the student within the average or higher than average range as established by the test service utilized.
- A public school student who has been unable to maintain academic eligibility is ineligible to participate in nonacademic public school activities as a nonpublic school student for the duration of the school year in which the student becomes academically ineligible and for the following academic year.
- A nonpublic school student participating in nonacademic public school activities must reside within the attendance boundaries of the school for which the student participates.
- Dual enrollment shall include the option of joint enrollment in a regular public school and an alternative public school program. The state board of education shall establish rules that provide funding to school districts for each student who participates in both a regular public school program and an alternative public school program.
- Dual enrollment shall include the option of enrollment in a post-secondary institution. Any credits earned from an accredited post-secondary institution shall be credited toward state board of education high school graduation requirements.
- A nonpublic student is any student who receives educational instruction outside a public school classroom and such instruction can include, but is not limited to, a private school or a home school.
The Idaho Code is the property of the state of Idaho, and is copyrighted by Idaho law, I.C. ¤ 9-350. According to Idaho law, any person who reproduces or distributes the Idaho Code for commercial purposes in violation of the provisions of this statute shall be deemed to be an infringer of the state of Idaho’s copyright. The Idaho Code is made available on the Internet by the Idaho Legislature as a public service. This Internet version of the Idaho Code may not be used for commercial purposes, nor may this database be published or repackaged for commercial sale without express written permission.
For additional information contact:
State of Idaho Department of Education – (208) 334-3236
POB 83720 Boise, ID 83720-002
Common Questions And Plain Answers About Home Schooling In Idaho
“The Parent or guardian….shall cause the child to be instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of the State of Idaho”
Idaho Code 33-202
The freedom of educational choice carries with it the responsibility to educate.
- How is education addressed in the Idaho law?
The Idaho Constitution, article 9, section I gives the legislature the power to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free, common schools. Idaho Code. title 33, section 101 through 33-116 creates a state board for the general supervision and control of all state education institutions and public school systems.
- Who is responsible for the education of a child in Idaho and what subjects must be taught?
Idaho code title 33, section 202 – “The parent or guardian of any child resident in this state who has attained the age of seven (7) years at the time of the commencement of school in his district, but not the age of sixteen (16) years, shall cause the child to be instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of the state of Idaho.” The generally accepted subjects are: English, math, reading, science, history and civics.
- What choices do parents have under the law regarding their children’s education?
Parents have four (4) choices to provide for the education of their children:
- Otherwise comparably instructed (Home school),
Idaho Code title 33, section 202 – “… Unless the child is otherwise comparably instructed the parent or guardian shall cause the child to attend a public, private or parochial school…” NOTE: If the child is “otherwise comparably instructed” (which includes home education), nThe other requirements beyond this statement apply.
- If private schools are a legal option in Idaho, is homeschooling considered private?
Yes. Attorney General Opinion 83-12 page 9 states: “While various courts have struggled with the definition of ‘school’… well established court cases define a school as, “minimum course requirements taught by a competent instructor for time prescribed by statute constitutes a school.” Any activity, school or otherwise, that does not receive public money is considered private.
- Must parents or guardians be certified or meet other qualifications to teach their children at home?
No. There is no certification requirement for home or private instructors, only that the instructors be competent (Attorney General Opinion 83-12,page 11). This same opinion confirms that “There is no code provision requiring state certification of home instructors.”
- Are parents/guardians required to adhere to the attendance policies of public schools for their home schooled children?
No. If the parent or guardians’ choice is public, private or parochial school, Idaho Code section 33-202 states that the child is, “to conform to the attendance policies and regulations established by the board of trustees, or other governing body, operating the school attended.” No such requirement applies to parents who provide “otherwise comparable instruction” for their children.
- Is there a requirement to conduct home school on the exact same days as the public schools?
No. The option of “otherwise comparably”; instructing subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools, and when that instruction takes place, is determined by the parent or guardian.
- Is it possible for a homeschooled child to participate in public school activities or selected classes?
Yes. Idaho Code Section 33-203 passed in 1995 allows all children to enroll in selected public school classes or activities, even if not attending that school full time.
- In order to teach my children at home, do I have to prove to the local school board that l am educating my children as required in Idaho Code 33-202?
No. Fourth District Court Decision, Case 13477 and 13478 Concludes that “in a proceeding under the Youth Rehabilitation Act, both child and parent could invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions about the home school program.” Idaho Code 19-108 says that no one can be compelled to be a witness against himself. Idaho Code 19-2104 presumes one to be innocent until proven guilty.
- As a homeschooler, what information am I required to furnish a local school board?
None. Fourth District Court Case 93225 says that parents who object to answering questions on constitutional grounds can simply discard the document without comment. “There is no statute or law which compels them to answer and no direct sanction provided for any refusal to do so.”
- Does the local school board have the right to require that my child be tested or evaluated?
No. There is no state law requiring testing of any kind for students. However, the State Board of Education rules provide for statewide testing programs in the public schools. Testing of home schooled children is available on a voluntary basis. Contact the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators.
- How should I respond to a public school or health and welfare official at my door or by phone questioning my right to home school?
Treat them with respect and courtesy. Inquire as to why they are there or calling, and ask them where they received their information. Inquire as to what evidence they have that a crime has been committed. You are under no obligation to answer their questions. You may want to inform them that you are teaching your children as required by law. (Reference: Idaho Code, Section 33-202. There is no need for further conversation.
- If I ignore the local school board’s request for information or approval of homeschooling, what action can they take against me?
According to Idaho Code Section 33-206, the school board can file a complaint with the local county prosecuting attorney if they believe parents are neglecting the education of their children. However, according to Idaho Code Section 16-1807, the complaint must contain evidence to support the allegations made in the petition filled.
- What action could the county prosecutor take against the homeschooler?
Idaho Code 16-1807 says that the court shall make a preliminary investigation and dismiss the petition or set the matter for a hearing. It is important to note that the prosecutor has the same burden of proving his case as is described in question 9. The homeschooler (defendant) also maintains his due process rights as described in the same question. The burden of proof rests with the prosecutor to prove that you are not educating your child.
- How should I respond if contacted by the county prosecutor’s office?
Take the initiative and make an appointment to see the prosecutor personally. Ask to see the evidence to support the allegations made. Determine who filed the complaint. Respectfully remind the prosecutor that the complaint, if filed within the law, places this case under the Youth Rehabilitation Act, and thereby becomes a misdemeanor crime. (Refer to answers to questions 9 and 13).
- How do I go about removing my child from public school enrollment?
Contact the attendance clerk of the school attended by phone or by letter and simply request that they remove your child’s name from their attendance roll, and that you are providing another means of education for your child.
- What should I do about my child’s student records from the public school?
If you desire to have the records, advise the school personnel to mail the records to your home or to make them available to you. If the school district refuses to provide the records, you can demand the information under the U.S. Civil Rights Code, Title 20, paragraph 1232g, Family Educational and Privacy Rights, and Title 5, paragraph 522(d), Access to Records.
- How can a student receive a high school diploma outside a public school?
The University of Idaho offers an accredited high school correspondence course, and private schools (including home schools) can issue their own diplomas upon completion of the curriculum. In addition, your child may complete the General Education Development a test administered at most colleges and universities, at 16 years old and older.
- If my child doesn’t graduate from an accredited high school, can he/she attend an Idaho college or university?
Yes. After attaining a satisfactory score on a specified entrance examination. Check the college or university handbook for details of any other requirements. The student will usually be enrolled on a provisional basis which would change to regular enrollment after three semesters of a grade point average of 2.1 or better.
Copyright Robert M. Forrey
Robert M. Forrey is a former Idaho State Legislator and long-time advocate for home education. Mr. Forrey has spoken to hundreds of groups and individuals about their rights and obligations to educate their children in Idaho. Over the years, Mr. Forrey has compiled these most common questions asked by parents about their responsibilities to their children. e-mail – Bob Forrey at firstname.lastname@example.org