Montana Education Code For Homeschooling
Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Montana Office of Public Instruction website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Montana? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what recordkeeping and testing is required, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Montana homeschool law. You may feel overwhelmed as you start this process, but there are resources available and other homeschoolers who have already succeeded on this adventure!
Here is some information on Montana homeschool requirements to get you started:
Montana Homeschool Law
According to Montana Code Annotated §20-5-102, “Except as provided in subsection (2), any parent, guardian, or other person who is responsible for the care of any child who is 7 years of age or older prior to the first day of school in any school fiscal year shall cause the child to be instructed in the program prescribed by the board of public education pursuant to 20-7-111 until the later of the following dates: (a) the child’s 16th birthday; or (b) the date of completion of the work of the 8th grade.”
One exception is for children “enrolled in a nonpublic or home school that complies with the provisions of 20-5-109. For the purposes of this subsection (2)(e), a home school is the instruction by a parent of the parent’s child, stepchild, or ward in the parent’s residence and a nonpublic school includes a parochial, church, religious, or private school” (Mont. Code Ann. §20-5- 102).
“A parent has the authority to instruct his child, stepchild, or ward in a home school and is solely responsible for: (1) the educational philosophy of the home school; (2) the selection of instructional materials, curriculum, and textbooks; (3) the time, place, and method of instruction; and (4) the evaluation of the home school instruction” (Mont. Code Ann, § 20-5-111).
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
There are no minimum qualifications required for you to homeschool your child.
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes. According to Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-109, you must “notify the county superintendent of schools of the county in which the home school is located in each school fiscal year of the student’s attendance at the school.”
Montana Homeschool Requirements
Even though Montana does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Montana homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 7.
- “Notify the county superintendent of schools of the county in which the home school is located in each school fiscal year of the student’s attendance at the school” (Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-109).
- “Maintain records on pupil attendance and disease immunization and make the records available to the county superintendent of schools on request” (Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-109).
- “Provide at least the minimum aggregate hours of pupil instruction in accordance with 20-1-301 and 20-1-302” (Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-109). Per Mont. Code Ann. §20-1-301, “The minimum aggregate hours required by grade are: (a) 360 hours for a half-time kindergarten program or 720 hours for a full-time kindergarten program, as provided in 20-7-117; (b) 720 hours for grades 1 through 3; and (c) 1,080 hours for grades 4 through 12.” One exception is that “1,050 aggregate hours of pupil instruction for graduating seniors may be sufficient.”
- Offer instruction “in a building that complies with applicable local health and safety regulations” (Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-109).
- “Provide an organized course of study that includes instruction in the subjects required of public schools as a basic instructional program pursuant to 20-7-111” (Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-109). Be sure to review Montana’s Standards of Accreditation for the academic requirements of public schools.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
No. Per Mont. Code Ann, § 20-5-111, you are responsible for the evaluation of your home school instruction. How you evaluate your instruction is up to you.
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
According to Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-109, you must “maintain records on pupil attendance and disease immunization and make the records available to the county superintendent of schools on request.”
In addition to the required recordkeeping, we also recommend you do some personal recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or post-secondary pathways. Recommended recordkeeping includes the following:
- Attendance, required
- Immunization records, required
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
- Test and evaluation results
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on Montana homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Montana Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Montana homeschool law and meeting Montana homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child receive special education services offered by the public school?
In accordance with federal regulation 34 CFR 300.137, “In Montana, homeschooled students that are registered with the county superintendent of schools are considered parentally placed private school students. These students must be treated the same as other parentally placed private school students under the IDEA. No parentally placed private school student with a disability has an individual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services that the student would receive if fully enrolled in a public school” (Montana Office of Public Instruction).
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
You do have the option to enroll your child in public school after homeschooling. Based on Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-110, “The trustees of a school district shall:
- (1) adopt a district policy on assessment for placement of any child who enrolls in a school of the district and whose previous place of instruction was a nonpublic school that is not accredited;
- (2) include in the adopted policy the following provisions:
- (a) the specific assessment for placement to be administered to any child subject to the provisions of subsection (1);
- (b) a procedure for grade and program placement of the child based on results of the assessment for placement, including considerations for the age and identified abilities of the child; and
- (c) a hearing process before the board of trustees of the district if the parent or guardian of a child is not in agreement with the placement of the child and requests a hearing before the board; and
- (3) administer the adopted policy required in subsection (1) in a uniform and fair manner.”
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
Be sure to contact any colleges or universities, organizations, or the military for admission requirements when planning for postsecondary pursuits.
See the Home School Information Packet on the Montana Office of Public Instruction’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Montana.
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Remember, too, that you are not alone. You should connect with local homeschoolers from your state, who can help you with Montana homeschool law and Montana homeschool requirements and offer you all kinds of practical advice and suggestions. They can give you guidance on everything from curriculum to daily schedules to recordkeeping, and they may be able to share information about local resources, support groups, and field trips. Click the image below to find Montana Homeschool Groups by county.