Because home schools are considered private schools in Texas, the administrators (parents) of home schools have the ability to determine the requirements for graduation for its students just as any other private school.  The Leeper vs. Arlington ISD court case decided what home school curriculum requirements would be.
1. To have a curriculum (written down plan) which teaches the following:
  • reading
  • mathematics
  • grammar
  • spelling
  • good citizenship
2.  The curriculum/lessons must be in visual form (books, workbooks, videos, etc).
3.  Must be pursued in a bona fide manner.

We may use, borrow or purchase curriculum materials from an outside source or develop curriculum of our own.  We may also send our children to the home of another parent for instruction or have a tutor come into our family's home for all or part of the children's instruction.

For more informatikon, please see the Texas Home Coalition website.



The Battle with CPS takes SHAPE

By Tracy Mann

Last fall, the home school families in our co-op began gearing up for another school year, and our co-op resumed classes just as it had in the past, completely unaware that in just a couple of months, we would face a challenge that had the potential to affect home school co-ops all over the state. Our home school cooperative became involved in a fight for our rights to homeschool in a ‘bona fide manner.’ Like most battles, it was not a fight we went looking for, but rather something that came to us when the state of Texas tried to require regulation of our academic home school cooperative.

SHAPE Academy—Supporting Home educators in Academics with a Partnership for Excellence—had its humble beginning in October 2005, when I began hosting meetings in my home to discuss the formation of an academic cooperative. In August of 2006, SHAPE Academy began meeting three days a week. We lease space from Lake Granbury Christian Temple in Acton, Texas, and meet fifteen weeks in the fall with multiple vacations interspersed and sixteen sporadic weeks in the spring. The K-12th grade students have both academic and enrichment classes available to them. SHAPE exists solely to help parents educate their children, but we are not ‘the’ school. We just partner with families by offering academic classes, but these same classes are co-taught by the parents at home.

In mid-October 2008, during our third year of operation, Ms. T. of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Child Care Licensing Inspector V visited the building in which our home school cooperative meets. Ms. T stated that an anonymous caller had reported us to Child Protective Services as a day care operating without a permit from the state. She stated that no complaint was made regarding the care of children. She felt that we fell under regulation by the Texas DFPS as a child care program requiring licensing by the state. She proceeded to interview me and tour the facilities.

She gave me a state of Texas publication. She said that, although we are a unique academic operation and she has never dealt with a home school group before, she felt we must be licensed. I told her if we did indeed need to be licensed, that we would comply but I wanted to look over the information to see if we were exempt. We set a date of November 20, 2008, to talk again and either begin moving toward compliance with the state of Texas Day Care regulations or request exemption.
I immediately called the members of our board of directors. After talking about the publication Ms. T. gave me, we agreed that we (SHAPE) do not meet many of the requirements for regulation. Ms. T agreed we might be exempt and that she would check with a supervisor. In November, Ms. T. called to confirm that she had spoken with her supervisor, and we filed an official exemption form on December 8, 2008.

On December 18 we received a letter denying our exemption request. My husband and I both began doing more research and spoke with Ms. T. a few more times. We still believed we were exempt. I made many phone calls to home school cooperatives throughout the state. None of them were regulated. SHAPE would then be setting a precedent and opening the door to academic home school cooperative regulation statewide if we chose to comply. It was then that I knew that we couldn’t acquiesce to the demands, because it would affect many other cooperatives, not just ours.

As per Ms. T.’s request, I attended a licensing class on January 8. I told her we were moving toward compliance but would also be sending a letter to ask for a review and exemption. When I returned from the class, I felt a strong assurance that we were indeed exempt and that I had the research to back it up.

However, I knew I needed help and needed help quickly. I e-mailed Tim Lambert with THSC and Chris Klicka with HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). Both responded and began working on it in different ways. Mr. Klicka wrote a letter to Ms. T. and her department informing them that we did not fall under a category that could even be considered as a daycare in need of regulation; therefore, we did not need exemption status at all.

Mr. Lambert immediately contacted the governor’s office, state officials and the commissioner of Texas Department of Family services. Read Tim’s letter. Tim then met with the new commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services to follow up on the letter he had written. The CPS caseworkers had ruled that the home school co-op was not exempt because they were not an accredited school; however, the DFPS officials agreed with Tim and agreed to give a ruling in writing regarding the exemption of co-ops. Read the letter from the DFPS.

None of our SHAPE families ever thought they would need the expertise that THSC brings to the table, but THSC is there to represent home school families and fight for their rights whenever the situation arises. They truly did that for SHAPE Academy, and I am thrilled about the positive outcome for both SHAPE and Texas home schoolers.

We were so excited that THSC and SHAPE were able to set the standard for home school co-ops and defeat attempts by CPS at unwarranted regulation.

What a victory for SHAPE and for home school co-ops all over the state! Most of all, to God be the glory for again providing for Texas home school families!
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