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A2Z Homeschool - THE A-to-Z of Homeschooling
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South Dakota Home School Laws

South Dakota homeschooling laws and requirements

Requirements to homeschool South Dakota. South Dakota homeschooling laws. Ways to homeschool legally within South Dakota homeschooling laws.

*This is not intended to be legal advice and is distributed for information purposes only. Check for updates at the State of South Dakota Department of Education Home School page, where the following information originated.

Parent Responsibilities

Complete the form requesting exemption from public school attendance (13-27-2) May not instruct more than 22 students (13-27-3)

  1. Required only up to age 18 (compulsory attendance requirement)
  2. Return the completed from to the school district for school board approval

No requirement to be certified (13-27-3)
Must test in grades two, four, eight, and eleven (13-27-3)

  1. Test may be monitored by local school district
  2. SAT10 test provided by the Department of Education (not the Dakota STEP test) at no cost
  3. If another test is chosen, it is at the expense of the home school
  4. Test results must be sent to the local school district

The statutes listed below will provide information regarding alternative instruction in South Dakota:

SDCL 13-27-1— Responsibility of person controlling child for school attendance

SDCL 13-27-2— Attendance Excused by School Board

SDCL 13-27-3— Child excused if provided alternative instruction–Application–Investigation–Revocation–Restrictions–Testing.

SDCL 13-27-3.1— Birth certificate or affidavit to be submitted

SDCL 13-27-3.2— Maintenance of Birth Certificates

SDCL 13-27-3.3— Report to State’s Attorney of Children for whom Birth Certificate not Furnished

SDCL 13-27-3.4— Certified Copy of Birth Certificate to be Provided to Certain Persons at No Cost

SDCL 13-27-7 — Applications for Excuse From Attendance

SDCL 13-27-9— Certificates of Excuse Copies Maintained

SDCL 13-27-20— Verification of Contents of Complaint

SDCL 13-27-29— Placement in an Accredited School from an Unaccredited Program

SDCL 13-34-23— Loan of Textbooks

SDCL 13-36-4 – High School Interscholastic Activities Association-Qualifications-Power & Authority

Questions regarding alternative instruction can be directed to Carol Uecker, South Dakota Department of Education,
(605) 773-3134, or your local public school district. (Click phone number link on a cell phone to dial.)


Home Schooling
Parents/guardians who currently provide alternative instruction pursuant to SDCL 13-27-3 are required to file an Application for Public School Exemption Certificate annually.

The completed application must be filed with the superintendent of schools in the public school district in which the parent /guardian resides.

Parents/guardians who wish to begin providing alternative instruction pursuant to SDCL 13-27-3 must also complete an Application for Public School Exemption Certificate. The completed application must then be submitted to the local public school administration office.

Application for Public School Exemption Certificate form

The Law and Alternative Instruction Programs

The South Dakota Codified Laws summarized below are provided for your review and understanding. The laws have been printed here exactly as they appear in a law text.

SDCL 13-27-1. Responsibility of person controlling child for school attendance–General education development test preparation program–Kindergarten–Transfer from another state. Any person having control of a child, who is not younger than five or older than six years old by the first day of September, or any child who, by the first day of September, is at least six years old, but who has not exceeded the age of eighteen, shall cause the child to regularly attend some public or nonpublic school for the entire term during which the public school in the district in which the person resides, or the school to which the child is assigned to attend, is in session, until the child reaches the age of eighteen years, unless the child has graduated or is excused as provided in this chapter. However, the requirements of this section are met if a child who is at least sixteen years of age enrolls in a general education development test preparation program that is school-based or for which a school contracts and the child successfully completes the test or reaches the age of eighteen years.

SDCL 13-27-2. Child excused from school. Upon filing of an application with a school official from the parent or guardian of the child for the reasons set forth in § 13-27-3, the child shall be excused, without the necessity of school board action, subject to revocation thereafter as provided in this chapter. School boards of all school districts may excuse a child from public school attendance for the reasons set forth in §§ 13-27-6 and 13-27-6.1.

SDCL 13-27-3. Child excused if provided alternative instruction–Application–Investigation–Revocation–Restrictions–Testing. A child shall be excused from school attendance, pursuant to § 13-27-2, because the child is otherwise provided with alternative instruction for an equivalent period of time, as in the public schools, in the basic skills of language arts and mathematics. The parent or guardian of the child shall identify in the application the place where the child will be instructed and any individual who will instruct the child. The individuals are not required to be certified. The secretary of the Department of Education may investigate and determine whether the instruction is being provided. Failure to provide instruction is grounds for the school board, upon thirty days’ notice, to revoke the excuse from school attendance. The secretary of the Department of Education may inspect the records of an alternative education program with fourteen days’ written notice if the secretary has probable cause to believe the program is not in compliance with this section. The records to be inspected are limited to attendance and evidence showing academic progress.

No individual may instruct more than twenty-two children. All instructions shall be given so as to lead to a mastery of the English language. Children receiving alternative instruction who are in grades two, four, eight, and eleven shall take a nationally standardized achievement test of the basic skills. The test may be the test provided by the state and used in the public school district where the child is instructed or another nationally standardized achievement test chosen by and provided at the expense of the child’s parent, guardian, or school giving alternative instruction. The test may be monitored by the local school district where the child is instructed.

SDCL 13-27-3.1. Birth certificate or affidavit to be submitted–Violation as misdemeanor. Any person who is required pursuant to § 13-27-1 to cause any child to attend any public or nonpublic school or alternative instruction program pursuant to § 13-27-3 in this state shall, either at the time of enrollment in any school in this state or upon being excused from school attendance pursuant to § 13-27-3 or within thirty days of initial enrollment or excuse, provide the public or nonpublic school or the alternative instruction program with a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate or affidavit in lieu of birth certificate as issued by the Department of Health in such cases where the original birth certificate is deemed unattainable. Any parent or guardian who requests an excuse for his or her child pursuant to § 13-27-3, shall with the initial request for excuse, provide a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate or an affidavit notarized or witnessed by two or more witnesses, swearing or affirming that the child identified on the request for excuse is the same person appearing on the child’s certified birth certificate. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.


SDCL 13-27-3.2. Maintenance of birth certificate by school as permanent record. Any copy of any certified birth certificate provided pursuant to § 13-27-3.1 shall be maintained by the public or nonpublic school or alternative instruction program and shall be a part of the child’s permanent cumulative school record.

SDCL 13-27-3.3. Report to district school board of children for whom birth certificate not furnished–Board to notify state’s attorney. The superintendent of any public or nonpublic school or any person who provides alternative instruction in this state who maintains a child’s permanent cumulative school record shall within thirty days of enrollment report to the school board of the district the name and address of any child whose permanent cumulative record does not have a copy of a certified birth certificate in violation of § 13-27-3.1 or 13-27-3.2. If the violation is not corrected within thirty days after the report, the school board of the district shall notify the state’s attorney.

SDCL 13-27-3.4. Certified copy of birth certificate to be provided to certain persons at no cost. Notwithstanding § 34-25-52, the department of health or the local registrar of vital records shall provide a certified copy of any child’s birth certificate at no cost if the person requesting the certificate pursuant to § 13-27-3.1 is eligible to receive temporary assistance for needy families under chapter 28-7, food stamps under chapter 28-12, or county poor relief under chapter 28-13.

SDCL 13-27-7. Applications for excuse from attendance–Certificate of excuse–Revocation. All applications for excuse from school attendance for the reasons provided in § 13-27-3 shall be on a standard form acknowledged before a notary or two witnesses. The form shall be provided by the secretary of the Department of Education. A certificate of excuse shall be included as part of the application and is effective upon the filing of the application with a school official, without the necessity of school board action, subject to revocation thereafter as provided in this chapter. The certificate of excuse shall be for a period not to exceed one year and shall state the reason for the excuse is that the child will receive alternative instruction. Upon a showing by the secretary of the Department of Education that a child excused from school attendance pursuant to § 13-27-3 is not being instructed in compliance with § 13-27-3, the school board may immediately revoke the child’s certificate of excuse.

All test scores required by § 13-27-3 shall be kept on file in the public school of the district where the child has school residence as defined in § 13-28-9. If subsequent achievement test results reveal less than satisfactory academic progress in the child’s level of achievement, the school board may refuse to renew the child’s certificate of excuse.

SDCL 13-27-9. Record of certificates of excuse from attendance–Copies to secretary and place of instruction. A permanent record of all certificates of excuse shall be kept in some safe place as determined by the school board. Any certificate of excuse of a pupil receiving alternative instruction pursuant to § 13-27-3 is confidential. Copies of any certificate of excuse shall be forwarded to the secretary of the Department of Education. Copies of any certificates of excuse shall also be forwarded to the place where the child is instructed. The copies shall be forwarded within thirty days of issuance.

SDCL 13-27-20. Complaints against persons responsible for truancy–Contents of complaint–Verification. Each truancy officer shall make and file truancy complaints, and any teacher, school officer, or any citizen may make and file a truancy complaint, before a circuit court judge, against any person having control of a child of compulsory school age who is not attending school or whose attendance is irregular. The complaint shall state the name of the parent, guardian, or person responsible for the control of the child. The complaint shall be verified by oath upon belief of the complainant.

SDCL 13-27-29. Placement of child who has attended unaccredited school or alternative program–Appeal. If a child of compulsory school age has been attending an unaccredited school in another state or country or has been receiving alternative instruction pursuant to § 13-27-3 enrolls in a public school in this state, the child shall be placed at the child’s demonstrated level of proficiency as established by one or more standardized tests. However, a child’s placement may not be in a grade level higher than warranted by the child’s chronological age assuming entry into the first grade at age six and annual grade advancement thereafter. After initial placement the child may be advanced according to his demonstrated performance. If a child of secondary school age has been attending an unaccredited school in another state or country or has been receiving alternative instruction pursuant to § 13-27-3 enrolls in a public school in this state, the child shall be placed in English and math at the level of achievement demonstrated by one or two standardized tests, and in all other subjects on a review of transcripts according to the policy formally adopted by the school board. The child’s placement may not be in a grade level higher than warranted by the child’s chronological age assuming entry into the first grade at age six and annual grade advancement thereafter. After initial placement the child may be advanced according to his demonstrated performance. Any parent or guardian who is dissatisfied with the secondary placement of his child may appeal it to the secretary of the Department of Education.

SDCL 13-34-23. Loan of textbooks–Textbooks defined. Each public school board shall loan without charge to all persons ages five through nineteen who are either enrolled in a public school, or a nonpublic school, or who are engaged in a course of instruction pursuant to § 13-27-3, within the school district under such board’s jurisdiction or who are residing in such district but are not enrolled in any such school or engaged in any such course of instruction, such nonsectarian textbooks designed for individual use as are normally furnished by such school board to individual students enrolled in the public schools of the district under such board’s jurisdiction. For the purposes of this chapter, textbooks are any instructional materials that constitute the principal source of teaching and learning for a given course of study including print and digital materials, but not including any computer hardware. All such textbooks shall be approved by the respective school boards.

SDCL 13-36-4 Delegation of control, supervision, and regulation of high school interscholastic activities to association. The school board of a public school, approved and accredited by the secretary of the Department of Education, may delegate, on a year to year basis, the control, supervision, and regulation of any high school interscholastic activities to any association which is voluntary and nonprofit if membership in such association is open to all high schools approved and accredited pursuant to this section, including any school that allows participation by students receiving alternative instruction as set forth in § 13-27-3, pursuant to the provisions of this title, and if the constitution, bylaws, and rules of the association are subject to ratification by the school boards of the member public school districts and the governing boards of the member nonpublic schools and include a provision for a proper review procedure and review board.

The governing body of a nonpublic school, approved and accredited by the secretary of the Department of Education, or the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), or the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), or the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), or Christian Schools International (CSI), or National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA), or Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod School Accreditation, may also delegate, on a year to year basis, the control, supervision, and regulation of any high school interscholastic activities to any association which is voluntary and nonprofit if membership in such association is open to all high schools approved and accredited pursuant to this section, including any school that allows participation by students receiving alternative instruction as set forth in § 13-27-3, pursuant to the provisions of this title, and if the constitution, bylaws, and rules of the association are subject to ratification by the school boards of the member public school districts and the governing boards of the member nonpublic schools and include a provision for a proper review procedure and review board.

Any association which complies with this section may exercise the control, supervision, and regulation of interscholastic activities, including interscholastic athletic events of member schools. Such association may promulgate reasonable uniform rules, to make decisions and to provide and enforce reasonable penalties for the violation of such rules.


Home School
Parents/guardians who currently provide alternative instruction pursuant to SDCL 13-27-3 are required to file an Application for Public School Exemption Certificate annually. Note that at the time of my update, the links to legislation on the DOE site were incorrect.

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One Response to South Dakota Home School Laws

  1. […] South Dakota Education Code For Homeschooling AN A TO Z RESOURCE Not intended as legal advice. Laws for your information only. […]

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