NOTE: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Please read and/or refer to the Louisiana State Laws for Homeschooling information and websites that are referenced in this article.
Homeschooling seems to be more and more popular these days, and I really don’t blame people for making the switch! I love that our society has become more accepting of homeschooling and I love that more parents are taking the initiative to school their children on their on terms!
If you’re new to homeschooling, know that this is an amazing decision, but it can also be an overwhelming one. I just want to give you a little extra help and insight into the process!
There is so much to take into account in the beginning; laws, requirements, curriculum, organization, learning expectations, personalities, schedule, and literally SO MUCH MORE.
But that shouldn’t sway you. Because once you start, you figure it all out and it just gets better. I promise that if I can do it and succeed, so can you.
So you are thinking of homeschooling in Louisiana?! Great news! Being able to homeschool is such a blessing! I get questions all the time about how to start homeschooling. Now, I don’t know what the laws are in your neck of the woods, but I thought I would share about how to start homeschooling in Louisiana.
Getting Approval to Homeschool in Louisiana
Homeschooling in Louisiana requires approval by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Once you are initially approved, you have to renew every 12 months, or each time your child completes a grade level (whichever is first.) In essence, your renewal will need to be done every year to stay in good standing with the state.
While HSLDA recommends sending all forms via certified mail, this isn’t required. The name of the game is record keeping, so if you’re keeping proper records, you shouldn’t have an issue.
You can choose to file with the Louisiana Believes (Louisiana’s Department of Education) using their online application, just be sure to keep records that you did so should the system fail.
Louisiana requires children to be enrolled in school between the ages of 7, so you don’t have to begin registering with the state for approval until then.
You must submit the initial application within 15 days of starting your school year, and then within 12 months of your approval date following. If your child hasn’t attended a public school, you aren’t required to communicate with schools in your area as the state takes care of that.
Letters of approval are usually sent within 1-3 weeks of receipt by the state.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when requesting approval from the state to begin homeschooling in Louisiana.
This is the information that you’ll be asked for:
- Date of Birth (Optional)
- Age (Optional – paper application only)
- Grade (Required)
- School Year Family Contact Information
- Name of Parent/Legal Guardian
- Parish or City School District in which the family resides
- Telephone Number
- E-mail address (optional – enhances communication with families)
- Immunization Statement for students who are 11 years old. (More information on page 7, here.)
- Disclosure of Information
- Original birth certificate (not a copy)
Withdrawing your child from a Louisiana Public School
We’ve always homeschooled, but maybe your children are already in school and you need to know how to withdraw them so that you can begin homeschooling in Louisiana.
This is so important, mamas! You have to officially withdraw your child from school. Even if you choose to start homeschooling over summer vacation, or the holidays! Once your child starts public school, there is a record and they are expected to remain in some sort of school environment.
You do not have to apply or be approved before you withdraw, but you must file for approval within 15 days of officially beginning your school year.
To withdraw your child, you must be at the school or school board (depends on your state, call your district for more information) in person.
Once you withdraw your student, this information is sent to the state, so be sure to comply with the rules following. The above step is so important because if you don’t follow, you could be charged with truancy for being in violation of attendance laws- and nobody needs to have to deal with that.
Rules and Requirements for Louisiana Homeschooling
- In Louisiana, a child between the ages of 7-18 must be in an approved home study program, or in some sort of official private or public school.
- Records of completing 180 school days
Failure to abide can have you in violation of the Compulsory Attendance Law. Just be sure to have your records!
Satisfactory Curriculum Evidence:
When you renew your application, you must submit information to the state to verify the information that you are giving them is correct. This is why your records are important.
There are three options that you have to provide specific documentation. You can refer to page 8 of the Louisiana Believes BESE Home Study Approval Packet for more information on the information they are requesting.
- Homemade Curriculum Packet
- Standardized Test Scores (options available)
- Teacher Statement
- Louisiana does not provide curriculum, materials, or funding. But homeschooling can still be affordable.
- You can “borrow” textbooks from your district if there are some available.
- Your child can complete more than one grade per year as long as you are following record guidelines.
- It seems like a lot, but homeschooling requirements in Louisiana aren’t as strict as other places!
Homeschooling in Louisiana Myths
1. You don’t get a “real” diploma.
By law, all approved Louisiana Home Study diplomas are recognized by secondary educational institutions, state departments, agencies, boards, and commissions and all other state/local government entities. You can also get a template from the state to use.
2. If you homeschool, you can’t apply for the Louisiana TOPS program.
As long as students are enrolled in a BESE-Approved Home Study program for both 11th and 12th grade, or can prove that their previous school was attended/left in good standing, they can qualify using the same TOPS requirements for public students.
There are other requirements should your student not meet the ones above. Read more about the Louisiana TOPS program.
3. You have to participate in state testing.
State testing is not required for BESE-Approved Home Study Programs. You can choose to have your child tested by scheduling this with your local school board. It’s important to note that a fee may apply. Read more about optional state testing for Louisiana Homeschoolers.
There will definitely be more things along the way, but this is just a place for you to find more information on how to get you started.
As you can see, homeschooling in Louisiana does take some planning and preparation, but it is completely doable. If you want to know more about homeschooling in Louisiana, please comment below or shoot me an email, and I can try to help!
How many of you are Louisiana homeschoolers?
Disclaimer: Louisiana Homeschool laws can change at any time. Do your own research regarding homeschooling rules and regulations in Louisiana. Please stay up to date with new practices as this information may not always be reliable.