Homeschool families have expressed concern on social media, via email, and in phone calls to NCHE about Senate Bill 105 (SB 105). The NC Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) has stated that they are complying with SB 105 by contacting homeschools and instructing them to update their records and provide relevant information. Is SB 105 instigating this campaign by DNPE? In a word, no. DNPE began the current drive to update homeschool records before the bill was ratified.
In recent years, DNPE has been getting pressure from the legislature to provide more accurate homeschool information. When homeschool families do not follow the law by notifying DNPE when they move or by closing their school when they stop homeschooling or move out of the state, DNPE has difficulty keeping accurate records.
What Is SB 105?
SB 105, signed into law in November of 2021, is an appropriations bill that directs money to the various NC government departments, divisions, and programs. It does not make any changes to the NC homeschool law. It does, however, codify what DNPE reports about NC homeschools in its annual report. Interestingly, the data that SB 105 requires in the report coincides with the data in the reports that DNPE has been posting on their website since 2008.
DNPE Reporting Details Required in SB 105
- Total number of all homeschools, the number of homeschools electing to operate under Part 1, and the total number operating under Part 2 of Article 39 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes
- Total student enrollment, total student enrollment for home schools electing to operate under Part 1 and total enrollment for home schools electing to operate under Part 2 of Article 39 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes
- Total student enrollment by grade
- Total number of home schools in each county
- Total student enrollment in each county
Except for the student enrollment by grade, these numbers have been reported every year since 1989. DNPE began reporting student enrollment by age/grade in 2008. The homeschool law doesn’t require homeschools to report the number of students, the grade level or the sex of the students. However, in the early years after the passage of the homeschool law, the DNPE representatives could acquire that information when they visited homes to inspect homeschool records. Later on, DNPE estimated the number and sex of the students using data from the voluntary inspection by mail program and record review meetings.
SB 105 Is Not the Issue
DNPE has recently changed its interpretation of the homeschool law. The law reads, “Each school shall make and maintain records of the results achieved by its students. 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.” The Department of Administration Counsel has determined that virtual visits by DNPE meet the requirement “at the principal office of such school.” Whereas, NCHE and HSLDA maintain that the visit has to be physically at the office. NCHE believes that only a court case or an on-the-record opinion from the NC Attorney General can settle this disagreement. We do not believe that either solution is wise at this time.
Don’t Panic if You Are Contacted
Even though the law doesn’t require it, NCHE recommends that you log into your account and update your records annually, if you feel comfortable doing so. This is the easiest way to avoid a hassle. If you are contacted by DNPE via postcard or email asking about your homeschool status, don’t panic. They are just doing their job, and your homeschool is not in danger. If you have not done so, update your record. You are required by law to close your school if you aren’t actively homeschooling in NC. You can re-open your homeschool by logging into your DNPE account and opening your school without having to file a notice of intent if you do so within five years of closing your homeschool. Also, you must inform DNPE if you move. If you receive a request from DNPE and you have updated your record, call the DNPE Education Consultant who contacted you and let her know that your records have been recently updated.
NCHE Is Dedicated to Preserving Homeschool Freedom
While SB 105 gave DNPE more money to update their records, it did not add to homeschool requirements. NCHE maintains a vigilant watch for legislative bills that have the potential for adding homeschool regulations, and we actively lobby to prevent the passage of any bills or policies that will limit our homeschool freedom. The homeschool community will be notified when bills are filed that will affect homeschool families.