Michigan home school law and information
Compulsory attendance – between 6 on or before October 1 (effective 2014-2015) and 16 years of age. The law was amended in 2010 to increase the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18 for a child who turned 11 after December 1, 2009, or who entered grade six after 2009. The exceptions include, but are not limited to, sending a child to a state-approved nonpublic school or educating a child at home in an organized educational program.
Application – You do NOT have to request a Non-Public School Membership Reporting Form.
Parental Qualifications – (3)(a) Be a teacher or homeschool with one or claim religious exemption, or (3)(f) No requirements whatsoever!
Testing – None
Curriculum – The state does not regulate the content of the basic courses.
Reporting – None required
This is not intended to be legal advice and is distributed for information purposes only. For more home schooling requirements in Michigan, check the Michigan State Department of Education’s page: Information on Home Schools.
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Michigan’s Compulsory School Attendance Law
This law states that “every parent, guardian, or other person in this state having control and charge of a child from the age of 6 to the child’s 16th birthday, shall send that child to the public schools during the entire school year” (MCL 380.1561, Section 1561). Thankfully, Michigan’s Compulsory School Attendance law also contains exemptions so that all children between the ages of 6 and 16 do NOT have to attend a public school.
MCL 380.1561, Section 1561:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, for a child who turned age 11 before December 1, 2009 or who entered grade 6 before 2009, the child’s parent, guardian, or other person in this state having control and charge of the child shall send that child to a public school during the entire school year from the age of 6 to the child’s sixteenth birthday. Except as otherwise provided in this section, for a child who turns age 11 on or after December 1, 2009 or a child who was age 11 before that date and enters grade 6 in 2009 or later, the child’s parent, guardian, or other person in this state having control and charge of the child shall send the child to a public school during the entire school year from the age of 6 to the child’s eighteenth birthday. The child’s attendance shall be continuous and consecutive for the school year fixed by the school district in which the child is enrolled. In a school district that maintains school during the entire calendar year and in which the school year is divided into quarters, a child is not required to attend the public school more than 3 quarters in 1 calendar year, but a child shall not be absent for 2 or more consecutive quarters.
(2) A child becoming 6 years of age before December 1 shall be enrolled on the first school day of the school year in which the child’s sixth birthday occurs, and a child becoming 6 years of age on or after December 1 shall be enrolled on the first school day of the school year following the school year in which the child’s sixth birthday occurs.
(3) A child is not required to attend a public school in any of the following cases:
(a) The child is attending regularly and is being taught in a state approved nonpublic school, which teaches subjects comparable to those taught in the public schools to children of corresponding age and grade, as determined by the course of study for the public schools of the district within which the nonpublic school is located.
…(b), (c), (d) and (e) are exemptions for students living extremely far from transportation to public school, and for those in attendance in confirmation or religious classes, or have already graduated.
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(3)(f) The child is being educated at the child’s home by his or her parent or legal guardian in an organized educational program in the subject areas of Reading, Spelling, Mathematics, Science, History, Civics, Literature, Writing and English Grammar.”
(4) For a child being educated at the child’s home by his or her parent or legal guardian, exemption from the requirement to attend public school may exist under either subsection (3)(a) or (3)(f), or both.
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Home Educating Under Exemption (3)(a) as a Non-Public School
If a family chooses to home school under exemption (3)(a) as a non-public school, they will be under the authority of the MDE. The MDE has authority over all non-public schools and home educators operating under exemption (3)(a) because the Non-Public School Act of 1921 gives them that authority. All non-public schools must comply with the requirements of the Act which includes the following:
388.551 Section 1.
The superintendent of public instruction has supervision of all the private, denominational, and parochial schools of this state in such matters and manner as provided in this act. The superintendent of public instruction shall employ assistants and employees as may be necessary to comply with the provisions of this act. The number of assistants and employees is subject to the approval of the state administrative board. The salaries and expenses shall be paid by the state treasurer from the fund designated in this act at the time and in the manner as other state officers and employees are paid. The superintendent of public instruction may remove any appointee under this act at any time that the superintendent of public instruction considers advisable. It is the intent of this act that the sanitary conditions of the schools subject to this act, the courses of study in those schools, and the qualifications of the teachers in those schools shall be of the same standard as provided by the general school laws of this state.
Constitutionality: Requiring all teachers in the state to be certified is not unconstitutional. Sheridan Road Baptist Church v Department of Education, 426 Mich 462; 396 NW2d 373 (1986).
388.553 Section 3.
No person shall teach or give instruction in any of the regular or elementary grade studies in any private, denominational or parochial school within this state who does not hold a certificate such as would qualify him or her to teach in like grades of the public schools of the state: Provided, however, that any person who shall have taught in any elementary school or schools of the standard specified in this act for a period of 10 years or more preceding the passage of this act, shall, upon filing proof of service with the superintendent of public instruction, be entitled to a certificate by said superintendent of public instruction in such form as he shall prescribe, to teach in any of the said schools within the state: Provided further, That teaching in such schools shall be equivalent to teaching in the public schools for all purposes in obtaining a certificate: Provided further, That the teachers affected by this act may take any examination as now provided by law and that the superintendent of public instruction may direct such other examinations at such time and place as he may see fit. In all such examinations 2 sets of questions shall be prepared in subjects ordinarily written on Saturday, 1 of which sets shall be available for use on Wednesday by applicants who observe Saturday as their Sabbath: Provided further, That any certificate issued under or by virtue of this act shall be valid in any county in this state for the purpose of teaching in the schools operated under this act: Provided further, That any person holding a certificate issued by the authorities of any recognized or accredited normal school, college or university of this or other state shall be entitled to certification as now provided by law: Provided, however, That teachers employed in such private, denominational or parochial schools when this act takes effect shall have until September first, 1925, to obtain a legal certificate as herein provided.
Constitutionality: Michigan Supreme Court held that the “teacher certification requirement [for home schools] is an unconstitutional violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment as applied to families whose religious convictions prohibit the use of certified instructors.” People v DeJonge, 442 Mich 266; 501 NW2d 127 (1993).
388.555 Section 5.
The superintendent of public instruction by himself, his assistants, or any duly authorized agent, shall have authority at any time to investigate and examine into the conditions of any school operating under this act as to the matters hereinbefore set forth and it shall be the duty of such school to admit such superintendent, his assistants or authorized agents and to submit for examination its sanitary condition, the records of enrollment of pupils, its courses of studies as set forth in section 1 of this act and the qualifications of its teachers. Any refusal to comply with provisions herein on the part of such school or teacher shall be considered sufficient cause to suspend the operation of said school after proceedings taken as stated in section 4 of this act.
What Must a Non-Public School Home School Do to Exist?
To begin a non-public school home school you simply begin home schooling. You do NOT have to ask permission, get a license or even a permit to get started.
You do NOT have to request a Non-Public School Membership Reporting Form.
You must be or use a certified teacher (or claim a religious exemption to this requirement).
You must teach curriculum comparable to that taught in your local school district according to your child’s age and grade.
You must provide information regarding “enrollment of pupils, courses of studies and the qualifications of teachers” if, and only if, the Superintendent of Public Instruction or one of his/her “authorized agents” requests this information from you. You may report this information on the SM4325 form, or you may simply submit to the MDE a letter providing the information required by law.
You must submit to investigations and/or examinations by the superintendent or his agent “at any time” at your “non-public school” (your home), unless you are willing to refuse this kind of intrusion into your home and are willing to have the operation of your school suspended, and/or be taken to court over the matter. Although no school official has attempted this type of harassment, anyone choosing this exemption should know that the possibility exists for this to happen.
Home Educating Under Exemption (3)(f) as a Home Education Program
Families choosing to home school under exemption (3)(f) are not required to do any type of reporting to any school official. If you are sent a SM4325 form, you do not have to return it or make any type of response. The MDE has stated that, “If the home school family has not registered, the Department will consider the home school family to be operating under the exemption (f) solely.” There is also no law requiring that any information be provided to the local or intermediate school district. Therefore, a home school existing under (3)(f) has no responsibility to provide any information to local school officials.
To begin a home education program you simply begin home schooling. You do NOT have to ask permission, get a license or even a permit. You do NOT have to request a Non-Public School Membership Reporting Form (form SM4325). You must provide your children instruction in the subject areas of Reading, Spelling, Mathematics, Science, History, Civics, Literature, Writing and English Grammar.”
The Michigan Department of Education’s Position on the Exemptions
The following statements have been taken from a Question & Answer document which the MDE provided to all of the Local and Intermediate School District Superintendents. It details how they have interpreted their role concerning the exemptions available to home educators.
“A home school family choosing to operate under exemption (a) solely, and complying with the requirements of the Non-Public School Act is considered a non-public school.”
“A home school family choosing to operate under both exemptions (a) and (f) must comply with the requirements of both (a) and (f).”
“A home school family choosing to operate under exemption (f) solely, is NOT a non-public school and NEED NOT comply with the requirements of the Non-Public School Act.”
“The MDE plays no role with this (the family choosing exemption (f) solely) home schooling family.”
“There are no minimum qualifications for the teachers (in an exemption (f) solely home school) except that they must be the parents or legal guardians of the children.”
“The (exemption (f) solely) home school family does not report to the MDE.”
“Question: How does a home school family operating under exemption (f) provide an organized educational program in the subject areas of reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, literature, writing and English Grammar?
Answer: The state does not regulate the content of the basic courses.” (But the Content Standards can give you some ideas of what a child may be capable of learning in each grade level. Use for guidance only if needed.)
Michigan Homeschool Laws Help
Homeschooling in Michigan
The section of the Revised School Code that addresses Home Schools is contained in the Michigan Compiled Laws under MCL 380.1561.
Information on Home Schools
Michigan Department of Education answers your homeschooling questions in this set of pdf files.
Nonpublic and Home School Information
State definition of a nonpublic school and options for homeschool families choosing the (3)(a) option for home education. Those truly needing school district supported programs may wish to use this
Michigan Homeschool Message Board
A friendly and inclusive forum that Michigan homeschoolers use to ask questions, discuss answers, and share experiences. Serious discussions, off-topic queries, humorous anecdotes, and mindless chatter are all appreciated here.