The Office of Public Instruction receives dozens of calls each year from people with questions about private/nonpublic schooling. Many request OPI provide a summary of Montana law pertaining to home schooling. This document outlines key statutes re: private/nonpublic schools in Montana.
The statutes discussed below may also be found in the 2007 Montana Code Annotated. They have been in effect for many years. This information is not provided as a complete analysis of the issue nor does it constitute legal advice.
Compulsory enrollment and excuses. Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-102 (1) states: "Except as provided in [Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-102(2)], any parent, guardian, or other person who is responsible for the care of any child who is 7 years of age or older prior to the first day of school in any school fiscal year shall cause the child to be instructed in the program prescribed by the board of public education pursuant to 20-7-111 until the later of the following dates:
(a) the child's 16th birthday;
(b) the date of completion of the work of the 8th grade."
Home school exception to compulsory enrollment in Mont. Mont. Code Ann. §20-5-102(2)
Montana law provides that a "parent, guardian, or other person shall enroll the child in the school assigned by the trustees of the district within the first week of the school term or when he establishes residence in the district unless the child is:
(e) enrolled in a nonpublic or home school that complies with the provisions of 20-5-109. For the purposes of this subsection (e), a home school is the instruction by a parent of his child, stepchild, or ward in his residence and a nonpublic school includes a parochial, church, religious, or private school. "
Home school requirements. Section Mont. Code Ann §20-5-109, states: "To qualify its students for exemption from compulsory enrollment under 20-5-102, a nonpublic or home school shall:
(1) maintain records on pupil attendance and disease immunization and make the records available to the county superintendent of schools on request;
(2) provide at least the minimum aggregate hours of pupil instruction or the equivalent in accordance with 20-1-301 and 20-1-302;
The minimum aggregate hours required by grade are:
(a) 360 hours for a half-time kindergarten program or 720 hours for a full-time
kindergarten program, as provided in 20-7-117;
(b) 720 hours for grades 1 through 3; and
(c) 1,080 hours for grades 4 through 12.
(3) be housed in a building that complies with applicable local health and safety regulations;
(4) provide an organized course of study that includes instruction in the subjects required of public schools as a basic instructional program pursuant to 20-7-111; and
(5) in the case of home schools, notify the county superintendent of schools, of the county in which the home school is located, in each school fiscal year of the student's attendance at the school."
Responsibilities and Rights of Parent Who Provides Home School and Rights of Child in Home School. Mont. Code Ann, § 20-5-111, states "Subject to the provisions of 20-5-109, a parent has the authority to instruct his child, stepchild, or ward in a home school and is solely responsible for:
(1) the educational philosophy of the home school;
(2) the selection of instructional materials, curriculum, and textbooks;
(3) the time, place, and method of instruction; and
(4) the evaluation of the home school instruction."
Addresses of home schooling associations that may assist you:
Association of Nonpublic Schools of Montana
P O Box 1708
Helena, MT 59624
P O Box 3228
Missoula, MT 59806
Montana Coalition of Home Educators
P O Box 43
Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
Web Site: www.mtche.org
5008 Creekmore Rd.
Huntley, MT 59037
For copies of the home school packet, contact
Office of Public Instruction
PO Box 202501
Helena MT 59620-2501
4th of February, 2010