In 1985, the Texas Education Agency announced that homeschooling was illegal under the law that states "Any child in attendance upon a private or parochial school which shall include in its course a study of good citizenship" is exempt from the requirements of compulsory attendance. This law does not reference home schooling. After over 80 innocent home school families were criminally prosecuted for truancy, a class action suit was filed against every school district in Texas (over 1,000). The class action suit, Leeper v. Arlington Indep. School Dist., No. 17-88761-85 Tarrant County 17th Judicial Ct. Apr. 13, 1987), resulted in a trial level decision in favor of home schooling.
Among other things, the court ruled that:
• Home schools can legally operate as private schools in Texas;
• The legislature is only authorized to establish and maintain public education, not private or parochial education;
• Homeschools must be conducted in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship; no other requirements apply.
• The court interpreted the law based on the historical treatment of homeschooling. "The evidence establishes that from the inception of the first compulsory attendance law in Texas in 1915, it was understood that a school-age child who was being educated in or through the child's home, and in a bona fide manner by the parents … was considered a private school…."
As a result of the Leeper decision, home schools do not have to initiate contact with a school district, submit to home visits, have curriculum approved or have any specific teacher certification. Home schools need only have a written curriculum, conduct it in a bona fide manner and teach math, reading, spelling, grammar, and good citizenship.
Homeschool graduates are specifically protected by law from discrimination by Texas colleges: "Because the State of Texas considers successful completion of a nontraditional secondary education to be equivalent to graduation from a public high school, an institution of higher education must treat an applicant for admission to the institution as an undergraduate student who presents evidence that the person has successfully completed a nontraditional secondary education according to the same general standards as other applicants for undergraduate admission who have graduated from a public high school." Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 51.9241.
Additionally, the court in Leeper specifically stated that the school district could not mandate standardized testing.
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