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

Meet Dr. Lynne Muller

On Thursday, August 23, 2018, the Maryland Homeschool Association hosted a community meeting for statewide homeschooling families and Dr. Lynne Muller. Dr. Muller works as the Section Chief for Student Services and School Counseling with the Maryland State Department of Education. She oversees homeschooling, on behalf of MSDE, and ensures county homeschool liaisons properly implement the state’s homeschool regulations.

The following summarizes Dr. Muller’s presentation on frequently asked questions regarding homeschooling in Maryland:

Notice of Intent and Starting to Homeschool

Families may homeschool their children beginning at any age. They do not, however, need to file a Notice of Intent form until their child reaches the compulsory school age of 5. Families should be aware that if they plan to homeschool early and then enroll their child into 1st or 2nd grade – but their child is technically too young for the grade level per public school standards – the school will evaluate the child to determine grade level placement just as they do for any student returning to public school from homeschooling.

Grandparents who do not have legal guardianship for their grandchildren may help to homeschool their grandchild – however, the child’s parent is responsible for filing all paperwork and for meeting portfolio review requirements.

Homeschool families must teach their children for a¬†“sufficient duration to implement the instruction program.”¬†How long is¬†sufficient depends upon your child’s learning needs? COMAR, however, does not require homeschool families to teach their children for 180 days. Additionally, families are not required to follow a school year calendar. Families should discuss their plans with the home school Coordinator in their school system.

Homeschool parents can determine when their child has completed high shool, as long as they can show the child has completed all the regular courses a 12th grader would normally take. There is no age of completion for home instruction.

Portfolio Questions

While COMAR does not require families to date work samples, doing so helps to establish if¬†regular, thorough instruction¬†is being provided. If a family chooses to not date their child’s work, they should consider alternative ways to show¬†regular, thorough instruction.

No specific number of work samples can be required from a family. One (or two) work samples per week per subject per child is a reasonable expectation to demonstrate regular, thorough instruction.

Maryland homeschool students are required to teach four years of English.

Maryland COMAR 13A.03.02.03 and 13A.04.12.01 specifically requires Algebra 1 and Geometry be taught to students enrolled in high school. MSDE interprets that to mean that regular, thorough instruction for homeschoolers of high school age must include a minimum of Algebra 1 and Geometry. Math is required every year the student is in high school.

Homeschool families are not required to teach physical education, health, art, or music more frequently than is taught in public schools. In other words, if a county only offers health one-day a week for one-semester for each year of elementary school, then homeschool families should not be required to teach more than that. MSDE recommends a similar rule-of-thumb be applied to high school homeschoolers.

Residency Issues

As long as a homeschool family maintains a legal residence in the state of Maryland, they are subject to portfolio reviews even if they opt to homeschool with RVing the country or otherwise traveling abroad. Travel-homeschool families should make arrangements with their county liaison to schedule a digital review or discuss arrangements for paper reviews. NOTE: Maryland military homeschool families stationed outside of Maryland fall should follow the homeschool regulations where they are stationed.

Should a homeschool family move to another county within Maryland, they will have to complete a new form. There is no process to transfer files or notification forms.

Maryland families who register their children to use a complete online curriculum that is (or is not) accredited and based in another state still must participate in portfolio reviews with their local county liaison or with a registered umbrella. Registering a homeschooler in an out-of-state online school does not constitute a school transfer situation.

Other Questions

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.

June 2020 UPDATE: MSDE issued a new Frequently Asked Questions document about homeschooling. Question #9 in the document addresses homeschool co-ops. Parents are reminded that co-ops that provide regular instruction to homeschool children from different families – rather than supplemental instruction – would be considered operating as a school and subject to oversight by MSDE’s Nonpublic School Division.

In the State of Maryland, homeschoolers may request FREE evaluations through their local public school, if they suspect their child may have a special learning need. Once the testing has been completed, the school will let the family know what services the child would be eligible for if the parent enrolls the child in public school. In Maryland, public schools are not required to provide special education services to homeschool families.

Last modified on July 8, 2020

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