** This webpage is provided for informational purposes. It is not legal advice. **

Homeschool co-ops have existed in Maryland for decades. Originally, co-ops were created by families who chose to meet once or twice a week to learn together in select classes. Parents volunteered to create and teach a class and there’d be social time afterwards.

Over the years, some co-ops have transformed into much more committed endeavors. Today, some co-ops require families to pay tuition, purchase specific books, and follow an explicit curriculum for an entire year. What once was seen as an informal way of supplementing a family’s home instruction has become very much like a small scale non-public school.

COMAR 13A.09.09.02.B(12) defines a "school" as:

[A]n educational program that is provided for an organized group of students, at least two of whom do not have the same parents or legal guardians and at least two of whom are not being instructed on a regular daily basis by the students’ parents or legal guardians, that is governed and operated by a legal authority, excluding the federal government or any State, county, or municipal agency or division of these.

So, what does this mean in plain-speak?

  • 20 homeschool families who get together once a week for 2-hours of enrichment learning participate in a co-op
  • 3 families who meet 4-days a week to share all their classes together would likely be considered a school

If You Run a Co-op

The legality of certain homeschool co-ops has not been officially established by the Maryland State Department of Education. Generally speaking, MSDE considers a co-op as operating as an unregistered school if the co-op meets very regularly and provides all of a child’s instruction. Attending an unregistered school is not considered homeschooling by MSDE.

Co-ops run by bonafide church organizations – that meet the definition of a “school” – must file notice of their school’s legal existence with the Maryland State Department of Education. Anyone else operating a “school” must obtain a Certificate of Approval from MSDE to operate as a nonpublic school.

Last modified on September 13, 2019