By Spencer Mason, October 2021
The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) recently sent out an email to randomly selected homeschools in North Carolina requesting that they attend a virtual record review meeting. The way the email reads, it would be easy to understand this request as a legal requirement. It says, “Please note that DNPE encourages you to participate as the NC Statutes governing non-public schools (Chapter 115C Article 39; § 115C 547 – 567) require all non-public schools to make available their records upon request. An invitation to attend a record review meeting is such a request.”
It is important to note, however, that later in the email it states, “If you do not have Microsoft Teams or you prefer not to meet virtually, you may either email or mail a copy of your 2020-21 attendance chart and standardized test results to DNPE.” We know from talking with DNPE representatives that they view the meeting request as voluntary. However, they do not view the request to mail or email your records as voluntary.
The statute states, “For one year after the testing, all records shall be made available, subject to G.S. 115C-174.13, at the principal office of such school, at all reasonable times, for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the State of North Carolina.”
According to our understanding of this law, the only way that the DNPE can request to view your records is by coming to your home (“the principal office of such school”). Therefore, it is important that you understand that you are not required by law to attend the virtual meeting or to send in any records by mail or email.
While it is the decision of each homeschool administrator as to how to respond to these requests by DNPE, NCHE advises cooperation. Government officials are charged with maintaining the integrity of the law. It is important that one’s relations with government officials remain civil. NCHE encourages homeschools to be in compliance with the law, and to assist government officials in carrying out their task, within the bounds of the law. It is NCHE’s view that the current regulations on North Carolinians for record maintenance are not over-burdensome, and that DNPE has demonstrated itself to be in support of alternatives to public-sponsored education. Lack of cooperation may raise questions by some regarding the integrity of the law and validity of the practice of home education. In contrast, a working, cooperative relationship with government officials communicates respect for civil governance and the common good.
- You are not required by law to attend the virtual meeting or to send in any records by mail or email.
- The law DOES require that we maintain attendance, immunization, and annual testing records.
- It’s important that homeschoolers recognize that we’re in danger of having more regulations added if there’s a perception that we’re doing a poor job or there’s a lack of sufficient oversight.
- We at NCHE believe cooperating with DNPE on these inspections is the best way to protect our present freedoms. DNPE understands homeschools and has supported our mode of education from the beginning. On the other hand, the Department of Public Instruction is not supportive and would be a disastrous substitute.
- So, if you’re doing a good job teaching your children at home, as NCHE trusts you are, you have nothing to fear from these inspections.