So you are thinking about home schooling your children in Montana?
Every state has compulsory attendance laws. In Montana the compulsory attendance laws for instruction is 7-16. That means that every child in Montana must be enrolled in public school when they are at least 7 years old, and up to 16 years old - UNLESS they are exempted by attending a nonpublic or home school.
In Montana a home school is defined as "instruction by a parent of the parent's child, stepchild, or ward in the parent's residence". To satisfy Montana law there are five requirements to be met (20-5-109 MCA):
Maintain records on pupil attendance and disease immunization and make the records available to the county superintendent of schools on request;
Provide at least the minimum aggregate hours of pupil instruction in accordance with 20-1-301 and 20-1-302 ;
Be housed in a building that complies with applicable local health and safety regulations;
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 ; and
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.
Notifying the County Superintendent of Schools: THE ANNUAL NOTIFICATION BY HOME SCHOOLING PARENTS, NEEDS TO BE DELIVERED TO THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS - NOT THE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT. (The ELECTED County Superintendent of Schools has an office in the county courthouse). The school district superintendent is a different office AND has NO responsibility with home schools OR the required annual notification requirement.
IMPORTANT: Until notifying the County Superintendent of Schools, the child(s) is not EXEMPT from the 'compulsory attendance' law in Montana - thus they could be deemed truant. One other thing to consider, in most Montana counties, if the student(s) are absent in their school district (not attending public school) for more than ten days, they are considered truant. So technically, ten days after their school district year starts, and the County Superintendent's office has not been notified, they are truant in their school district.
A Special Note about the Superintendent's Request for Student Ages: ALL schools (public, private and home) are required by federal law to be advised of their right to participate in some specific federal programs. This request (and notification requirement) varies depending on student age group. The County Superintendent's office often include the FP question on a form to help sort out who has interest. All they do is ask if they want to participate in their district's federal programs, (a description is often provided). If they do, the school district then sends them information in the Spring. If they don't want to participate, they will not be contacted.
Knowing the age of the student(s) helps the County Superintendent's office provide the family the correct form. This is a federal requirement that has been in existence for over 30 years (and in 50 states).
(CLICK HERE for a sample notification form to print out and use)
To view a complete listing of all the County Superintendents of Schools in Montana CLICK HERE
Attendance Records: Until about 10 years ago, attendance for the year was reported in days (180 days for year). The law was changed to remove required days, thus leaving only the required hours (720 or 1080 hrs / year) (see 20-1-301 MCA). (This was done by the legislature to provide flexibility to the public schools for 'snow' days, thus eliminating longer school years for making up 'lost' days) Attendance records need to be reported to the County Superintendent only IF REQUESTED. Some County Superintendents will provide a form to use as a courtesy. There is no mandate to use their form if you have your own. The hours of instruction are from July 1 to June 30 annually.
CLICK HERE for a great site that offers FREE Attendance Record Forms
Disease Immunization Records: IF REQUESTED, Montana home educators are required to provide disease immunization records to the County Superintendent of Schools UNLESS the parent has a religious or medical objection (see Montana law: 20-5-405 MCA).
CLICK HERE for an Exemption form to print out and submit to the County Superintendent.
A complete list of Montana laws related to home education can be found under the 'Law' section.
Here is a great article from an experienced home educator for those considering home schooling in Montana:
For a complete general checklist of home schooling startup tips, visit:
Home education in Montana is slightly different depending on the age of your children:
Montana Content Standards & Model Curriculum Standards CLICK HERE
Participating in Public School Sports CLICK HERE
IMPORTANT (COVID RELATED) TESTING INFORMATION FOR GRADUATING SENIORS: CLICK HERE