Nebraska Homeschool Laws
In Nebraska, parents choosing to homeschool must notify the state of their intention by completing the forms mandated by the state. Homeschools are considered “exempt schools” and parents must file for an exemption under Rule 13, the rule that governs the procedures and standards for homeschooling parents.
- Rule 13 affidavits state that the requirements for school approval and accreditation required by law i) violate the parents’ or legal guardians’ sincerely held religious beliefs, OR ii) interfere with the decision of the parents or legal guardians in directing their child’s education. Religious exempt schools do not need to comply with immunization laws.
To get forms and review the information from the Nebraska Department of Education, visit their website.
A Brief Review of Homeschool Laws
Synopsis of Nebraska Education Statutes Applicable to Home Education
(Sections 79-201, 79-202, 79-211, 79-217, 79-1601)
Section 79-201 and 79-202 Compulsory Education; Attendance Required.
Ages: School attendance is compulsory unless the child:
- has obtained a high school diploma from a state approved or accredited school; or
- has completed the program of instruction offered by an unapproved Rule 13 school under section 79-1601 [includes homeschool graduates]; or
- has reached the age of 18 years; or
- has reached the age of 16 years, attends a public, private, denominational, or parochial school, and successfully completes an exit interview with parents and the local school superintendent; or
- has reached the age of 16 years, attends an unapproved school under 79-1601, and such child’s parent or guardian has signed a notarized release discontinuing the enrollment of the child on a form provided by the Commissioner of Education and filed it with the Department of Education; or
- will reach 6 years of age on or after January 1 of the then-current school year (i.e., those children who will reach 6 years of age prior to January 1 must attend school), or
- will reach 6 years of age prior to January 1 of the then-current school year, but will not reach 7 years of age prior to January 1 of such school year, such child’s parent or guardian has signed an affidavit stating that the child is participating in an education program that the parent or guardian believes will prepare the child to enter grade one for the following school year [e.g., Montessori school, etc.], and such affidavit has been filed by the parent or guardian with the school district in which the child resides; or
- will reach 6 years of age prior to January 1 of the then-current school year but has not reached 7 years of age, such child’s parent or guardian has signed an affidavit stating that the parent or guardian intends for the child to participate in an unapproved school under section 79-1601 and the parent or guardian intends to file the Rule 13 paperwork on or before the child’s seventh birthday, and such affidavit has been filed by the parent or guardian with the school district in which the child resides [this effectively retains the old 7-year-old compulsory attendance age, but only for those children who will be attending a Rule 13 unapproved school whose parents file the affidavit]; or
- will not reach 6 years of age prior to January 1 of the then-current school year and such child was enrolled in a public school and has discontinued the enrollment according to the policy of the school board (i.e., the parents discontinue enrollment of their under-compulsory-age child because he/she wasn’t really ready yet).
Section 79-211. Minimum school term.
School term: “not less than one thousand thirty-two (1,032) hours for elementary grades and one thousand eighty (1,080) hours for high school grades”
Section 79-1601. Schools. Private, teachers, laws applicable; election
not to meet accreditation or approval requirements.
There are no statutes that define homeschools. Homeschooling takes place under
Section 79-1601(2) that applies to private, denominational, or parochial schools which elect not to meet accreditation or approval requirements. A homeschool is considered a private school.
Subjects: “language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health” Section 79-1601(2)
Parents or the legal guardians of children attending a private school, i.e. homeschool, must submit the following information to the Commissioner of Education:
- a certified copy of each child’s birth certificate the first year they begin to homeschool, and
- a notice of intent to operate a private (home) school 30 days prior to the date the parents initially start/begin to homeschool their compulsory attendance age children, and
- a signed statement that specifically states they are choosing to home educate because the requirements for approval and accreditation required by law and the rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education either (i) violate sincerely held religious beliefs of the parents or legal guardians, or (ii) interfere with the decisions of the parents or legal guardians in directing their child’s education.
- necessary information to prove to the Commissioner of Education that the homeschool:
- meets the minimum requirement relating to health, fire, and safety standards,
- meets the attendance requirements of Section 79-201 (see above),
- maintains a sequential program of instruction designed to lead to basic skills in the language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health (see Subjects above).
- a statement that the parents or guardians have satisfied themselves that the individuals monitoring instruction in the homeschool are qualified to monitor instruction in the basic skills (see Subjects above).
- Items #2 through #5, above, must be submitted by the parents or guardians to the Commissioner of Education annually by July 15 after the initial date they begin to homeschool.
- Parents or guardians who do not intend to start homeschooling their child who will reach 6 years of age prior to January 1 of the then-current school year must file an affidavit with their local school district stating that they intend for their child to participate in a school which has elected or will elect pursuant to section 79-1601 not to meet accreditation or approval requirements and that the parent or guardian intends to provide the Commissioner of Education with a statement pursuant to subsection (3) of section 79-1601 on or before the child’s seventh birthday.
- Parents or guardians will need to sign a notarized release discontinuing the enrollment of their 16- or 17-year-old child should they allow that child to drop out of school prior to graduation. This notice should be filed with the Department of Education in order to avoid possible truancy charges.
- Parents or guardians should file a notice of course completion [i.e., graduation] to the Department of Education if their graduate will remain under 18 yeas of age during a significant portion of any typical school year (Sept-May) in order to avoid possible truancy charges. Parents may want to file the notice anyway because the state is now effectively recognizing completion of homeschool studies (i.e., graduation) as suitable for fulfilling the educational requirements of the compulsory attendance law.
- Parents or guardians choosing to home educate for other than religious reasons must comply with the immunization requirements of Section 79-217, which requires each student attending a private school to be protected against measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, diptheria, pertussis, and tetanus by immunization prior to enrollment. There are exceptions to Section 79-217 at Sections 79-221 & 222.
Teacher Certification: None; Section 79-1601(3).
Department of Education Rules and Regulations: The statutes identified above are implemented by Department of Education rules and regulations; specifically, Rule 13 which now covers both homeschooling for religious reasons and homeschooling for other than religious reasons. Rule 13 originally became effective August 22, 1984, for religious homeschooling only; Rule 12 became effective August 4, 1999, for homeschooling for other than religious reasons only. On May 21, 2016, Rule 13 was changed to the current version which includes both homeschooling for religious reasons and other than religious reasons, and rule 12 was repealed.
Student Testing/Standardized Tests: While Section 79-1601(2)-(5) gives the State Board of Education the option to adopt rules and regulations for regular achievement testing of students and visitation of schools, these would have to be arranged with the consent of the parents. An opinion issued by Nebraska Attorney General Robert Spire dated July 30, 1987, stated testing of students and visitations must be applied uniformly to all private schools and their students and must be arranged with the consent of the parents. To date, the State Board of Education has chosen not to test or visit private schools.
THIS SUMMARY DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE
©Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association (NCHEA) 2004, 2013, 2016
PO Box 57041, Lincoln, NE 68505-7041