Homeschooling in Mississippi & Homeschool Laws

Homeschooling in Mississippi & Homeschool Laws

You may be considering home schooling your child in Mississippi, but don’t know where to start regarding state regulations and requirements to start homeschooling in Mississippi. This guide will walk you through what you need to know to successfully set up your own program legally in the state. We’ll cover the history of homeschooling in Mississippi, current laws and regulations, required notifications and filings, curriculum and testing choices, high school transcripts, extracurricular activities, graduation requirements, and special education services.

History of Homeschooling in Mississippi

Homeschooling in Mississippi has a relatively long history, dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when the modern home-based schooling movement began to gain momentum across the United States. Home-based schools were initially met with skepticism and legal challenges.

In 1984, the state passed legislation explicitly recognizing the right to home-based school. This was a significant step forward in the state, as it provided legal protection and established guidelines for home schooling. Mississippi homeschool laws required a homeschool parent to notify their local public school district of their intent and to maintain records of their children’s academic progress.

In 1992, the state implemented additional requirements for a family, including the establishment of minimum learning standards and testing provisions. These regulations aimed to ensure that the homeschooled received instruction at grade level, equivalent to that provided in traditional brick and mortar schools.

Today, home schooling is a well-established and legally protected option for Mississippi. The state’s home schooling laws provide flexibility to tailor a child’s self paced instruction to their individual needs, while also ensuring that homeschooled children receive quality homeschooling in Mississippi.

Current Mississippi Homeschool Laws and Regulations

State law stipulates that all compulsory-school-age children, who will be six (6) years old on or before September 1 of the calendar school year and have not yet reached seventeen (17) years old by September 1 of the same year, must attend a public, private, or home school.

Mississippi homeschool laws require the following:

  • Home-based educators are required to submit a certificate of enrollment (COE).

  • The designated school official responsible for individuals attending a nonpublic institution must also complete a COE.

  • The Office of Compulsory Attendance Enforcement is solely authorized to disseminate and collect the certificates. District personnel are obligated to notify the Office of Compulsory Attendance Enforcement if a household intends to begin homeschooling.

  • The COE must be submitted annually to the officer where the child resides no later than September 15th.

  • A “Certificate of Enrollment” for students beyond the compulsory attendance age will only be accepted if the homeschooler is currently or was previously in a home-based program.

How to Set Up a Homeschool In Mississippi

To begin your homeschool Mississippi requires a few straightforward steps:

  • To initiate the process, reach out to the local attendance officer (SAO) for specific requirements.

  • It is essential to ensure that the current academic year has concluded before initiating the process for home schooling in the subsequent academic year.

  • It is mandatory for every family opting to homeschool in Mississippi for compulsory aged individuals to annually complete a form with the SAO. Get the form here.

  • The certificate of enrollment form is designed to gather the following essential information:

    • Name, address where child resides, telephone number, and date of birth of the child.

    • Name, address, and telephone number of the parent of the compulsory-school-age child.

    • A brief description of the learning program the compulsory-school-age child is receiving.

    • Signature of the parent of the compulsory-school-age child.

  • Useful additional information available here

Maintaining Your Mississippi Homeschool

Maintaining a homeschool in Mississippi involves several key steps to ensure compliance with Mississippi homeschool laws.

  • Familiarize yourself with Mississippi homeschool laws. Ensure that you comply with all legal requirements, including notification procedures, record-keeping, and learning standards.

  • Notify your local School Attendance Officer (SAO) of your intent to home school your child. This notification typically includes basic information about your child and your learning plans.

  • Design a plan tailored to your child’s learning needs and goals. Consider your child’s learning style, interests, and academic strengths and weaknesses. You have the flexibility to choose educational materials that best suit your child’s learning preferences.

  • Maintain detailed records of your home-based activities, including attendance, academic progress, and any extracurricular activities. These records may be required for assessment purposes or in case of an audit.

  • Conduct regular assessments to evaluate your child’s progress and academic achievement. Assessments may include standardized tests, portfolio reviews, or evaluations by qualified professionals.

  • Stay connected with support groups in your community. Networking with other home schoolers provides opportunities for socialization and accessing additional support.

  • Be flexible and willing to adjust your approach as needed. Monitor your child’s progress regularly and adapt your curriculum to address any changing learning needs.

  • Stay informed about changes to laws. Regularly check official sources such as the Mississippi Department of Ed website for any important announcements about homeschooling programs in Mississippi.

By following these steps and maintaining a proactive approach, you can ensure a successful and fulfilling learning experience for your child in Mississippi.

Mississippi Homeschool Reporting Requirements

In Mississippi, homeschooling families are not required to submit annual achievement testing, progress reports, or other academic documentation to state authorities or their local public school district.

However, the SAO does have the authority to request information showing student progress. Therefore, keeping good records is important, even though there are no routine required filings when homeschooling in Mississippi.

In addition to the certificate of enrollment, it is advised to keep the following essential records:

  • Attendance records detailing your student’s presence in educational activities.

  • Documentation on the textbooks utilized by your student.

  • Samples of your student’s schoolwork showcasing their academic progress and achievements.

  • Any correspondence exchanged with public school officials.

  • Any other pertinent documents demonstrating compliance with applicable laws.

It’s advisable to maintain these records for a minimum of two years to ensure accessibility if needed.

Homeschool Testing In Mississippi

In Mississippi, homeschooling is considered a form of private school, and there are no specific testing requirements mandated by the state for homeschooled students. However, it is important to note that while the state does not impose testing requirements on homeschool groups, some may opt to use standardized tests or other assessment methods to track their children’s progress and ensure they are meeting educational goals. Ultimately, the decision to administer tests and the choice of assessment tools lies with those responsible for the program when homeschooling in Mississippi.

Funding Your Mississippi Homeschool

Unfortunately, the state provides no direct funding assistance to help cover the costs of curriculum, activities, field trips, etc. All expenses incurred through homeschooling in Mississippi must be borne privately by the household.

There are no tax credits, grants, voucher programs, or other forms of public financial support in the state. This is in contrast to some other states which may offer tax deductions or education savings accounts.

Some tips that can help keep costs down include:

  • Utilizing free online homeschool curricula and open educational sources.

  • Joining local co-ops to share costs across homeschool families.

  • Taking advantage of community programming like public library activities.

  • Looking into discounts at local museums, parks, venues, etc.

  • Pursuing affordable used curriculum and second-hand materials.

While the financial burden is entirely private, there are creative ways families can access quality materials without going over tight budgets.

Federal Tax Breaks

Homeschooling families may be eligible for certain federal tax benefits to help offset educational expenses. One option is a Coverdell Education Savings Account, which allows money to grow tax-free when used for qualified costs. You might also be able to deduct a portion of mortgage interest or rent if part of the home is used regularly and exclusively for homeschooling in Mississippi. Finally, tax credits or deductions could be available for required books, supplies, equipment and curricula used for home school instruction. To learn more about these potential tax advantages, homeschooling families should review the following pages of information and resources provided by the IRS.

Mississippi Immunization Requirements

In Mississippi, state law mandates specific immunizations for students attending public and private schools, with only medical exemptions permitted. However, there are no stipulated immunization requirements for home schoolers. Therefore, homeschooling families are not obligated to ensure their children receive vaccinations for homeschool programs Mississippi approves.

Mississippi State Graduation Requirements

Unlike some other states, the magnolia state does not have any uniform statewide graduation requirements that homeschooled students must meet. 

  • Parents have the authority to decide when their homeschooled student has met the graduation criteria and can issue their own home-based diploma. Alternatively, students enrolled in private or online homeschool may receive diplomas from those institutions.

  • Homeschool students are not subject to testing requirements for graduation.

  • Parents have the flexibility to craft their own student transcripts, incorporating any details, such as language arts courses, or others which are relevant for college applications, military enlistment, or future employment opportunities.

  • Parents have the authority to decide when their student has met graduation requirements. To create transcripts, some parents opt to assign credits to individual courses.

There are no state-mandated credits, courses, or assessments that must be fulfilled. Parents serve as the administrators of their child’s education and make all decisions regarding high school graduation when homeschooling in Mississippi.

Mississippi Homeschool Charters

Unfortunately, the magnolia state does not have any full-time online homeschool, accredited homeschool programs in Mississippi, or charter school options available for K-12 students. All students must be enrolled in a traditional brick-and-mortar public school, legitimate private school, an online program or an approved homeschool in Mississippi.

The state does not operate home-based charter schools or state-run virtual academies that a child can be enrolling in on a full-time basis. state law and education policies mandate that students attend a physical school facility or be officially homeschooled through the certificate of enrollment process.

While the option does not currently exist, some Mississippi homeschooling organizations have advocated for the creation of virtual charter schools that could provide technology access, and partial public funding for home schoolers.  

In the meantime, homeschooling in Mississippi must take place completely independently through parent-directed education at home.

Local Mississippi Homeschooling Resources

Even without state-level virtual schools or funding sources, there is helpful local support for homeschoolers and families across the different regions of the state:

  • Mississippi Home Educators Association (MHEA): They are dedicated to empowering, equipping, and inspiring families who have chosen to educate their children at home.

  • Local Libraries: Municipal library systems offer great help like meeting spaces, educational programming, activity passes, curriculum, and more.

  • Parks and Recreation: Some city parks facilitate home-based hubs with affordable classes, clubs, and field trips.

  • Curriculum Providers: Mississippi has several local businesses specializing in homeschool curriculum like Manikin Resources and Mississippi Book Supply.

While state assets to provide support are limited, homeschooling Mississippi families who connect locally with Mississippi homeschool groups can find many supportive resources, co-ops, and providers serving the community across Mississippi.

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