An overview of the homeschool laws and regulations of Missouri, along with links to legislative source information, additional reference materials and government resources on homeschooling.
The following information is taken from the Missouri Statutes as of the end of 1995. They are listed in order of relevance to homeschooling. Missouri has some of the best laws in regard to homeschooling of any state, so please try to abide by it carefully and not abuse your privileges or you will be giving those who would like to make it harder for people to homeschool reasons to change the laws as they now stand.
Emphasis has been added to parts of the text to make it easier to follow (along with some comments in brackets).
Sec. 167.031. School attendance compulsory, who may be excused, nonattendance, penalty, home school, definition, requirements, school year defined, daily log, defense to prosecution.
- Every parent, guardian or other person in this state having charge, control or custody of a child not enrolled in a public, private, parochial, parish school or full-time equivalent attendance in a combination of such schools and between the ages of seven and sixteen years is responsible for enrolling the child in a program of academic instruction which complies with subsection 2 of this section. Any parent, guardian or other person who enrolls a child between the ages of five and seven years in a public school program of academic instruction shall cause such child to attend the academic program on a regular basis, according to this section.
Nonattendance by such child shall cause such parent, guardian or other responsible person to be in violation of the provisions of section 167.061, except as provided by this section. A parent, guardian or other person in this state having charge, control, or custody of a child between the ages of seven and sixteen years of age shall cause the child to attend regularly some public, private, parochial, parish, home school or a combination of such schools not less than the entire school term of the school which the child attends; except that
- A child who, to the satisfaction of the superintendent of public schools of the district in which he resides, or if there is no superintendent then the chief school officer, is determined to be mentally or physically incapacitated may be excused from attendance at school for the full time required, or any part thereof;
- A child between fourteen and sixteen years of age may be excused from attendance at school for the full time required, or any part thereof, by the superintendent of public schools of the district, or if there is none then by a court of competent jurisdiction, when legal employment has been obtained by the child and found to be desirable, and after the parents or guardian of the child have been advised of the pending action; or
- A child between five and seven years of age shall be excused from attendance at school if a parent, guardian or other person having charge, control or custody of the child makes a written request that the child be dropped from the school’s rolls.
- As used in sections 167.031 to 167.071, a home school” is a school, whether incorporated or unincorporated, that:(a)Has as its primary purpose the provision of private or religious-based instruction;
(b) Enrolls pupils between the ages of seven and sixteen years, of which no more than four are unrelated by affinity or consanguinity in the third degree; and
(c) Does not charge or receive consideration in the form of tuition, fees, or other remuneration in a genuine and fair exchange for provision of instruction;
- As evidence that a child is receiving regular instruction, the parent shall:(a) Maintain the following records:
- A plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities engaged in; and
- A portfolio of samples of the child’s academic work; and
- A record of evaluations of the child’s academic progress; or
- Other written, or credible evidence equivalent to subparagraphs 1, 2, and 3; and
(b) Offer at least one thousand hours of instruction, at least six hundred hours of which will be in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science or academic courses that are related to the aforementioned subject areas [core subjects] and consonant with the pupil’s age and ability. At least four hundred of the six hundred hours shall occur at the regular home school location.
- Nothing in this section shall require a private, parochial, parish or home school to include in its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice in conflict with the school’s religious doctrines or to exclude from its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice consistent with the school’s religious doctrines. Any other provision of the law to the contrary notwithstanding, all departments or agencies of the state of Missouri shall be prohibited from dictating through rule, regulation or other device any statewide curriculum for private, parochial, parish or home schools.
- A school year begins on the first day of July and ends on the thirtieth day of June following.
- The production by a parent of a daily log showing that a home school has a course of instruction which satisfies the requirements of this section shall be a defense to any prosecution under this section and to any charge or action for educational neglect brought pursuant to chapter 210, RSMo.
Homeschool, declaration of enrollment, contents, filing with recorder of deeds or chief school officer, fee.
For the purpose of minimizing unnecessary investigations due to reports of truancy, each parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child who causes his child to attend regularly a home school may [i.e., this is optional] provide to the recorder of deeds of the county where the child legally resides, or to the chief school officer of the public school district where the child legally resides, a signed, written declaration of enrollment stating their intent for the child to attend a home school within thirty days after the establishment of the home school and by September first annually thereafter. The name and age of each child attending the home school, the address and telephone number of the home school, the name of each person teaching in the home school, and the name, address and signature of each person making the declaration of enrollment shall be included in said notice. A declaration of enrollment to provide a home school shall not be cause to investigate violations of section 167.031. The recorder of deeds may charge a service cost of not more than one dollar for each notice filed.
Sec 167.061. Penalty for violating compulsory attendance law.
Any parent, guardian or other person having charge, control or custody of a child, who violates the provisions of section 167.031 is guilty of a class C misdemeanor. Upon conviction and pending any judicial appeal, the defendant shall be required to enroll the child in a public, private, parochial, parish or home school within three public school days, after which each successive school day shall constitute a separate violation of section 167.031. The fine or imprisonment, or both, may be suspended and finally remitted by the court, with or without the payment of costs, at the discretion of the court, if the child is immediately placed and kept in regular attendance at a public, private, parochial, parish or home school and if the fact of regular attendance is proved subsequently to the satisfaction of the court. A certificate stating that the child is regularly attending a public, private, parochial or parish school and properly attested by the superintendent, principal or person in charge of the school is prima facie evidence of regular attendance by the child.
Sec. 167.071. School attendance officers in six-director districts, powers and duties, powers of police officers in certain areas.
- In school districts having six or more directors the school board may appoint and remove at pleasure one or more school attendance officers and shall pay them from the public school funds.
- Each attendance officer has the powers of a deputy sheriff in the performance of his duties. He shall investigate the claims of children for exemptions under section 167.031, and report his findings to the person authorized by that section to grant the exemption sought. He shall refer all cases involving an alleged violation of section 167.031 involving a public school to the superintendent of the public school of the district where the child legally resides and all cases involving an alleged violation of section 167.031 involving a private, parochial, parish or home school to the prosecuting attorney of the county wherein the child legally resides. When reasonable doubt exists as to the age of any such child he may require a properly attested birth certificate or an affidavit stating the child’s age, date of birth, physical characteristics and bearing the signature of the child. He may visit and enter any mine, office, factory, workshop, business house, place of amusement, or other place in which children are employed or engaged in any kind of service, or any place or building in which children loiter or idle during school hours; may require a properly attested certificate of the attendance of any child at school; may arrest, without warrant, any truant, or nonattendants or other juvenile disorderly persons, and place them in some school or take them to their homes, or take them to any place of detention provided for neglected children in the county or school district. He shall serve in the cases which he prosecutes without additional fee or compensation. Each attendance officer appointed by a school board shall carry into effect the regulations lawfully prescribed by the board by which he was appointed.
- In any urban school district, any metropolitan school district and in school districts having six or more directors and which are located in a first class county having a charter form of government, any duly commissioned city or county police officer shall be ex officio school attendance officers. Any police officer exercising duties of ex officio school attendance officer need not refer any child apprehended pursuant to the provisions of this section to juvenile court or a juvenile officer, but nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the police officer’s regular powers and duties as a peace officer.
Sec 210.167. Report to school district on violations of compulsory school attendance law, referral by school district to prosecutor, when. If an investigation conducted by the division of family services pursuant to section 210.145 reveals that the only basis for action involves a question of an alleged violation of section 167.031, RSMo, then the local office of the division shall send the report to the school district in which the child resides. The school district shall immediately refer all private, parochial, parish or home school matters to the prosecuting attorney of the county wherein the child legally resides. The school district may refer public school violations of section 167.031, RSMo, to the prosecuting attorney.
Sec 162.996. Handicapped children attending private, parochial, parish or home schools, districts may provide special educational services, state aid, how calculated.
- Special educational services may be offered during the regular school day. Children who attend special educational services in the district and who otherwise attend a private, parochial, parish or home school shall be in compliance with section 167.031, RSMo.
- A public school district shall be entitled to state aid for resident handicapped children who attend special educational services and who otherwise attend private, parochial, parish or home schools. State aid shall be calculated on the basis of full-time equivalent average daily attendance of part-time students as provided in section 163.011, RSMo.
- Nothing in this section shall change the authority of a public school board to set the schedule of classes for full-time or part-time public school pupils including pupils receiving services under this section.
- Nothing herein shall be construed to require transportation for these services.
- No resident child shall be denied or discriminated against in special educational services offered by a school district on the grounds that the child regularly attends a private, parochial, parish or home school.
Sec 167.619. Most accessible care to be provided, discrimination prohibited.
When a school or school district enrolls as a medicaid provider pursuant to section 167.606 or receives a grant under section 167.603, the department of social services shall assure that the grants or funds are used to provide the most accessible care to school age children. No resident child shall be denied or discriminated against in school children health services or medicaid services offered by a school district or a local health department under sections 167.600 to 167.621 on the grounds that the child regularly attends or does not attend a public, private, parochial, parish or home school.
Daily log of teaching – In order to comply with the intent of Missouri law, most homeschool groups (such as Families for Home Education – FHE) recommend the keeping of a Daily Log, since it is required to maintain a “plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities engaged in.” Your Daily Log documents that the requirements of Missouri law are being met as a means of defense against any charges or prosecution connected with home schooling. By keeping a Daily Log, parents are not acknowledging any authority of the state in regard to their child’s education. It does demonstrate good faith in showing that education is indeed occurring in the home and documents this for any minimal interest of the State. The law also requires parents to keep a portfolio of each child’s academic work along with records of any evaluations of each child’s academic progress. You are not required to show anyone this portfolio; you only need to show the Daily Log if questioned. The intention of a Daily Log is to be the sole document shown to any authorities which gives the minimum information necessary to demonstrate compliance with the law. If an official asks to see more information, they may be stepping outside their rights under the law. When in doubt, consult an organization that can help you determine this (see resource list below). In addition to the daily log, parents are well-advised to also keep a more detailed daily journal/plan book of all educational content and activities in their home school for each child involved. This is for the parents’ use only, and by detailing specifics of what is done it serves as a good tool for planning future studies.
Guidelines for keeping a Daily Log
Here are some suggestions for the practice of keeping a Daily Log:
- Keep a separate log for each child aged 7 through 16. You may want to keep a copy of the relevant state laws in the front of the folder you keep each log in to demonstrate your intention to comply with the law. Only mark down the number of hours spent on each subject. No more details are required.
- Begin each log in July and end in June (according to how the school year is defined by law). Record the information daily so as to avoid the possibility of losing track of what has been done (or else keep a detailed daily diary and then transfer the hours to your log daily or once a week).
- Create your own code or label for topics outside the core subjects (such as art, music, physical education, religion, etc.). One class session on a topic is equivalent to an “hour of instruction.”
- The actual time to complete the same lesson may vary from student to student, but don’t abuse the flexibility of the law at this point. Remember, the goal is to give our children an excellent education.
- Create columns to total hours in each subject by day, month, and school year. For each school year, you must have a total of 1000 hours of instruction – 600 hours under core academic subjects of reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, or other courses directly related to these subjects (400 hours of which must be at the regular home school location), and the remaining 400 hours in elective subjects.
What to do if you are investigated.
While investigations are not common in Missouri, they do occur and you should be prepared for such an event. The Division of Family Services (DFS) may call or visit in response to the infamous “anonymous report” from someone claiming that your children are not being schooled. Here are some suggestions to remember:
- Preventative: Maintain your Daily Log accurately and consistently on a weekly basis. That way it will be ready if you need to show it to someone. Maintain good relations with your neighbors. Let them know that you homeschool so that they are aware of the fact. While you are certainly free to maintain a more flexible schedule with homeschooling, taking young children out in public during “regular school hours” may invite people to report you, so use some common sense in this regard.
- When a visit occurs: Do NOT let anyone inside your home without a search warrant! Even if they are from DFS, they have no legal authority to enter your home without a warrant. Be polite, but firmly refuse to permit them entrance. You can discuss the issue with them on the front porch if need be. Inform them that you are homeschooling. Do NOT volunteer any more information than is necessary. If you are not comfortable with the situation, ask to arrange an appointment away from your home and bring a veteran homeschooler with you if you wish. If the DFS still suspects “abuse,” their only real option in cases of supposed educational neglect is to refer your case to the local prosecuting attorney by way of the local public school authorities. Do NOT show your Daily Log to anyone from DFS or the local school authorities, as it could possibly be used against you in a future court proceeding. If you wish, use a small tape recorder in plain sight to record the interview and thus discourage the investigator from using any illegal hints or threats against you. As soon as they leave, call your local homeschool support group or The groups below. They can help advise you as to your best options to clear the matter up quickly. Remember, you are not breaking the law by homeschooling. As long as you keep a Daily Log, there is little that can be done to you and your family (even though an overzealous local official may try).
Missouri Homeschool Law Explained: What is Required of You
The first part of the requirements deals with records. The Missouri Homeschooling law states that “the production by a parent of
1. a daily log showing that a home school has a course of instruction which satisfies the requirements of the law, shall be a defense to any prosecution.” The importance of the daily log appears to be quite clear. It should be both accurate and clear in its presentation of each student’s progress toward the various hourly minimums set out in the law. You should keep one log for each child ages 7 to 16. Missouri’s compulsory age is 7. The law also requires that you keep
2. samples of the child’s work and
3. records of evaluations of the child’s academic progress.
What is an evaluation? This can come in many different forms: chapter/unit tests, daily/weekly grades, professional evaluations, achievement tests, periodic subjective reviews of each student’s progress by the parents, etc . . .
The second requirement is that you offer at least One Thousand Hours of instruction. Of the thousand, at least six hundred shall be of the core subjects listed below. (At least four of the six hundred core hours shall occur at the regular homeschool location.) The other four hundred can be of non-core subjects, such as home-economics, art, music, physical education, etc. An hour of instruction is not a literal hour. It’s a class session. Field trips may need to be recorded as hours on the clock, though. The school year runs from July 1st to June 30th.
Reading: Phonics, literature, book reports- written and oral
Language Arts: all communication skills, such as penmanship, spelling, composition, grammar, speech, language based studies such as Latin or Greek, and foreign language such as German or Spanish.
Mathematics: number concepts, computation- (add, subtract, multiply, divide) and math applications such as budgeting,problem-solving, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, etc.
Social Studies: history, geography, economics, cultural studies and heritage studies.
Science: from astronomy to zoology!
The above information was retyped from a document distributed by FHE, Families for Home Education.
- As used in sections 167.031 to 167.071, a home school” is a school, whether incorporated or unincorporated, that:(a)Has as its primary purpose the provision of private or religious-based instruction;