School districts in Mississippi can’t regulate homeschoolers

Brett KittredgeAvatar

A school district in Mississippi appears to have backtracked from comments that appeared in a recent article detailing the district’s new proposed policy for homeschool students.

According to the Delta Democrat Times, Greenville Public School District Deputy Superintendent Glenn Dedeaux said the district is “legally responsible to ensure every child of educating age receives an adequate education” and he warned that not all homeschool curricula “are approved by the Mississippi Department of Education to meet the necessary standards.”

Dedeaux also implied that homeschoolers must take subject matter tests to graduate.

Regardless of what you may or may not think about homeschooling, these comments run counter to Mississippi law. Indeed, Mississippi has one of the most parent-friendly homeschool laws in the country.

Mississippi code specifically says:

[I]t is not the intention of this section to impair the primary right and the obligation of the parent . . . to choose the proper education and training” for their child, “and nothing in this section shall ever be construed to grant, by implication or otherwise, to the State of Mississippi . . . any right or authority to control, manage, supervise or make any suggestion as to the control, management or supervision” of the private education of children. Further, “this section shall never be construed so as to grant, by implication or otherwise, any right or authority to any state agency or other entity to control, manage, supervise, provide for or affect the operation, management, program, curriculum, admissions policy or discipline of any such school or home instruction program.

To homeschool in Mississippi, a family must file a certificate of enrollment with the school attendance officer where the family resides. They must do this by September 15. Beyond that, parents have the freedom to make their own education decisions for their children.

While there is not official data on the number of homeschoolers in Mississippi, estimates put it at around 17,000 students statewide. If homeschoolers were a single district, they would be the fourth largest district in the state.

Dan Beasley, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, reached out to Dedeaux. Dedeaux said he was misquoted in the original article. And, to his credit, he understands he has no authority over which program a homeschool family selects.

Mississippi families who choose to homeschool their children should not be susceptible to illegal attempts by school districts to regulate their education.