North Carolina compulsory school attendance age
Your child must attend school between the ages of 7 and 16 years.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under North Carolina law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for North Carolina available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Complying with North Carolina’s homeschool law
North Carolina law defines a “home school” as “a nonpublic school consisting of the children of not more than two families or households, where the parents or legal guardians or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction.” You may choose to operate your homeschool as one of two different types of “nonpublic” schools: (1) a qualified nonpublic school; or (2) a private religious school or a school of religious charter. The requirements are the same regardless of the type of homeschool, and are listed below.
1. Submit a notice of intent.
You must submit a notice of intent to operate a homeschool to the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE). Submitting this notice is only required once, when you are establishing a new homeschool. Your notice must contain the name and address of your homeschool and the name of your homeschool’s owner and chief administrator. You may submit your notice of intent to operate a homeschool via the DNPE’s website. Alternately, if you are an HSLDA member and prefer to use a paper form, you may download ours here.
2. Ensure that the teachers in your homeschool have the required qualifications.
The persons who provide academic instruction in your homeschool must have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.
3. Provide the required days of instruction.
Your homeschool must operate on a regular schedule for at least nine calendar months each year, except for “reasonable holidays and vacations.”
4. Keep attendance and immunization records.
You can download a homeschool attendance form from the DNPE’s website, although the use of this form is not mandatory. Immunization records can be obtained from your child’s health care provider. Information about medical and religious exemptions from immunizations is available on the website of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
5. Administer an annual standardized test.
At least once during every school year, you must test your child using a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measurement. The test you choose must measure achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and mathematics. For one year after the testing, your child’s test scores must be kept “available” at the principal office of your homeschool at all reasonable hours for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the state of North Carolina.
Although the DNPE has attempted to perform home visits under this provision, the law gives its officials no right to enter homes or to inspect any records besides test scores. There is also no statutory requirement for parents to attend record review meetings arranged by the Division of Non-Public Education for the purpose of reviewing their records.
6. Close your home school.
When you stop homeschooling in North Carolina—or if you move out of the state—you must notify the DNPE that your home school has closed. You can close your home school after logging in to the DNPE’s website.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find North Carolina’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.
These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.