Fall 2017 / by Spencer Mason

The NC Division for Non-Public Education (DNPE) has implemented a major change in their school database that affects homeschools. This change–to a real-time database–will make a dramatic improvement in the efficiency of DNPE operations and provide better accuracy and security to homeschool information. When a Notice of Intent to Open a Home School (NOI) is entered online, the person entering the notice will create a user ID, password, and will enter an email address. The site will ask for the following information:

• Name of the homeschool (Be sure to pick a name that will look good on a high school diploma. Once you have picked a name, you can’t change it.)

• Mailing address and county

• The name of the chief administrator

• Under which part of Article 39 the school will operate (Choose Part 1, religious or Part 2, non-religious. Your school will be treated the same with either choice.)

• The age and gender of the homeschool students (You are not required to fill in this section.)

• The primary teacher’s name

• Additional teacher’s names (This is not required.)

• A scanned image of the teacher’s high school diploma or equivalent. (You can provide an image of a high school diploma or transcript, a GED transcript, a college diploma or transcript (AA, AAS, BS, MS or PhD), a professional license or certificate (such as a nursing certificate), or a DD214 (military discharge document) or active military documentation.)

Once families fill out the required information and attach a scanned proof of a high school diploma, they will have their schools added to the DNPE database. In a few days, they can sign in to their account to see the status of their NOI.

Because of the changes, schools can be added to the DNPE database in days rather than weeks.

The DNPE Email to Homeschools Opened before 2003

DNPE recently sent emails to homeschool administrators who opened their homeschools before 2003. The email asked homeschoolers to respond to the email with the following information so DNPE can update their records.

• The Chief Administrator of your school

• The name of your school

• The status of your school (opened or closed)

• If your school is a two-household school (Not required by law)

• Enrollment (not required by law)

• Address changes

The reason for this email is that when DNPE mailed letters to these homeschools, more than half of the letters were returned as undeliverable. Then DNPE sent this email to the homeschools they could not reach and more than fifty-percent of the emails bounced as undeliverable. DNPE could not contact the majority of homeschools that were opened before 2003. As a result, those schools were closed.

DNPE Annual Reminder Emails

Each year DNPE will send an email to homeschools to remind them to sign into their account and check the accuracy of the information about their homeschool and make corrections when needed. If you have moved or changed your address since opening, and you have not notified DNPE, you should email or call them to ensure that your school is still open and that DNPE has the correct information.

Homeschool administrators will have the opportunity to provide the date annual standardized tests were administered and the name of the tests that were used. This is for the homeschoolers who want the state to have a record of the tests that they administered. There is not a way to enter scores or student-identifying information—only the type of test taken. Homeschoolers do not have to give this information. The inspection by mail program was discontinued several years ago, but many homeschools still mail copies of their records to DNPE every year. Because DNPE must store these papers for three years, DNPE is running out of room. They have asked us to get word out again. Please don’t mail copies of your records to DNPE.

Summary of What Is Required by Law

All the requested information is valid and reasonable to request. However, the law requires only the following information to be shared with the state, “name and address of the school, and name of the school’s owner and chief administrator.” The law also requires that the homeschool administrator “shall notify a duly authorized representative of the State of North Carolina (DNPE) upon termination of the school.” The law doesn’t require homeschools to provide any information about their students or their status as a two family homeschool. However, NCHE recommends that you provide DNPE any of this optional information that you feel comfortable sharing. The reason is that this will give DNPE a more accurate idea of the number of NC homeschool students.

If you have further questions or concerns, please share them with us by sending them to law-policy@nche.com.

Spencer Mason and his wife, Debbie, homeschooled their four children from birth through high school, starting in 1981. Now their four grandchildren are being homeschooled. Spencer has served on the NCHE board for twenty-seven years—serving in several different positions, including twice as president. He now serves as law and policy director where he managed the successful campaign to improve our homeschool law in 2013. Under his leadership, NCHE maintains a respected voice on both sides of the aisle in the legislature. In addition to his board position, he is now serving as the NCHE executive office manager.