Yes, home education is supported by law in Illinois. It’s legal!!! Illinois law properly recognizes parents as having the right to supervise the education of their children. Home schools fall into the category of private schools in Illinois.
Indeed, Illinois law places only three requirements on home schools:
- Children between the ages of 7 and 17 years must attend school.
- The school must teach the "branches of education" (language arts, mathematics, biological and physical science, social sciences, fine arts and physical development and health - see ISBE) "taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools".
- The "branches of education" core instruction is taught in the English language.
That’s it! However, diligence is expected. In the Illinois Supreme Court Case which confirmed home schools in Illinois (People vs. Levisen), the court noted that home educating parents “have the burden of showing that they have in good faith provided an adequate course of instruction in prescribed branches of learning, but burden would not be satisfied if evidence fails to show type of instruction and discipline having required quality and character.”
For a more complete legal analysis, please visit HSLDA's Illinois law page.
Things NOT Required
Public school officials have no authority over home schools. For them to administer guidelines, approve curriculum, or oversee home schools is illegal. In fact, home schools are not even required to register with any public school or board of education. It is important to note that each school district has a different set of rules if your child is to re-enter school. They must be consistent in their requirements for all students, and you may inquire with the school if necessary to determine re-entrance requirements.
Further, Illinois law recommends, but does not require you to teach a certain number of hours or days each year, as it does with public schools.
Withdrawing from a Public School
While no special requirements are imposed on parents who withdraw their children from public school, it is a good idea to communicate your intentions to withdraw to the local Superintendent. But remember, no public school official has legal authority to inspect your curriculum or methods.
Our experience has been that children withdrawn after the end of the school year usually are not contacted at all. However, parents who withdraw their children mid-year or after school has begun, are often contacted and the public school requests some formal statement of withdrawal. Whenever you are contacted by any state/school authority figure, communicate with them in an error-free professional letter on your school letterhead. If you do not have a letterhead for your school, then an error-free letter, neatly typed on plain paper will suffice. It is important to keep photocopies of all correspondence on file. Please see the sample letter below.
Your school’s address
City, State, Zip
local public school address
City, State, Zip
Dear (Principal’s Name):
This is to inform you that as of (date), our child (child’s name), will be withdrawing from attendance at (school’s name). (Child’s name) will be enrolled at (your home school’s name goes here).
(You may wish to include a brief paragraph here expressing your appreciation for any programs, staff, teachers or experiences of particular excellence, or expressing general affirmation of the school. Remember, “Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8)
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Sincerely, Your signature(s) Your typed name(s)
*At this point you may either wish to end your letter or include the following:
1. Your home school is a private home school.
2. Child’s name receives instruction in all branches of education in the English language as required by law.
3. This instruction is in compliance with the requirements of the Compulsory Attendance Law, Chapter 122, Section 26-1 of the Illinois School Code.
It is suggested that you send a letter like this to your regional superintendent of schools in place of filling out the form that they send to you. You will want to include the three points above when writing to him. Please note that the text above does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, contact www.homeschoolfoundation.org.
APACHE strongly recommends joining a home education advocacy group such as HSLDA who will help protect your right to home school should you need legal representation.