** 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 meet once or twice a week to learn together. Parents volunteered to create and teach classes. There would be social time afterwards.
Over the years, some co-ops 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 much like a micro-school.
Why Does It Matter?
Maryland law expressly defines what a school is AND who can use words like “school” and “academy” in their name.
So, what does this mean in plain-speak?
- 20 homeschool families who meet once a week for 2-hours of enrichment learning participate in a co-op
- 2 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
In June 2020, the Maryland State Department of Education published new Frequently Asked Questions about homeschooling. Question #9 addresses the use of co-ops by homeschool families. In the document, MSDE advises parents that the state may “may take action against the operator(s) of the co-op” if the co-op is found to be proving regular instruction to children who are not in the same family. According to the MSDE document, co-ops who only offer supplemental instruction in addition to a family’s primary instruction at home are not at risk of adverse action.
Co-op directors should contact the Nonpublic Approval Branch of the Maryland State Department of Education for additional information on whether or not they should register as a church-exempt or registered nonpublic school.
Last modified on September 5, 2023